June 23, 2006

Terror Watch

June 23 - CTV reports that Saudi Arabia shootout kills 6 'militants' (another was arrested) after security forces "stormed a suspected al Qaeda hide-out":

One policeman was also killed in the clashes, it said.

The statement, carried by the official Saudi news agency, said security forces chased seven members with "deviant thoughts" who "belong to the astray bunch" to a house in Riyadh's al-Nakheel district. The Saudi government often refers to al Qaeda members as individuals with "deviant thoughts."

The house was "a hideout for crime, corruption, and a base for the plots of aggression and outrage," the statement said.

Why do the pronouncements from these guys always make me groan as much as did those incessant quotes from Chairman Mao's Red Book back in the day?

June 24 - 19:01 CTV reports that 17 were wounded in the attack and over 40 suspects have been arrested in sweeps after the raid.

Maybe the Saudis were feeling a bit left out what with all the arrests in Toronto, Britain, heavy action in Afghanistan and the recent U.S. arrests of 7 plotters:

Five of the suspects were arrested Thursday in Miami, after authorities swarmed a warehouse in Miami's poor Liberty City area, a federal law enforcement official said.

One person was arrested in Atlanta on Thursday, and another person was arrested before yesterday, according to CNN. (Bolding added)

(That last sentence made me giggle because I was expected a place, not a date, but it can't be that funny if I have to explain it.)

Most of the chatter on Fox is actually worth listening to because they are doing a great job of speculating about things that can only make wanna-be terrorists nervous -- like the rumour that the head of the terror cell was an FBI agent.

Our guys in Iraq continue to rack 'em up: on Monday a senior Al Qaeda operative and 3 others were detained (no names released.)

Sorry, I shouldn't be happy. I should be sombre, and Weighted With The Enormity Of It All, but I'm not. Maybe it's because it's Friday, maybe it's because we ducked another bullet, but more likely it's because Ace is hot on the story:

You will not be surprised that the "timing" of these "arrests" of "terrorists" is being "questioned."
His link to Allah is, as always, beyond funny.

Here's your CanCon and a return to seriousness: when I read the CNN headline (on the World page) "Rights boss: Stop terror abuse" I actually thought ... but no, alas, it was just

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, taking aim at the war on terrorism, reminded all states on Friday of their duty to ban torture and give all security detainees a fair trial.

In a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Arbour also voiced concern at the alleged existence of secret detention centres, saying they facilitate abusive treatment.

Although she mentioned no names, her remarks were clearly aimed at the United States and its allies in their "war on terror" launched after the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.

"It is vital that at all times governments anchor in law their response to terrorism," Arbour told the 47-member state body ahead of the U.N.'s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, being observed next Monday. (bolding added)

Your timing sucks, bitch. Consider

The torture and murders of two soldiers who, by all legal definitions, qualified for protection under the Geneva Convention: Private Thomas Tucker and Private Kristian Menchaca.

A government worthy of condemnation: Sudanese militias kill hundreds in Chad
Car bomb in Philippine market place kill 5, wounds 10 in a probable attempt to kill the governor of the southern province;
Tamil Tigers Caught Laying Sea Mines:

A POWERFUL explosion occurred off the coast north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo today, with police saying it was probably a sea mine planted last week by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The explosion was heard about 15km from Colombo, near the site where police on Saturday arrested five Tigers in diving gear who were laying sea mines, Sri Lanka's police chief Chandra Fernando said.

"There are no reports of casualties. We are investigating," Fernando said.

"Last week we had information that there were eight sea mines. Seven were accounted for but we had not found one. The blast today is probably that mine."

Officials said sea mines were similar to limpet mines but magnetically attached to a ship's hull and could be triggered to explode by a time-delay fuse or by remote control.

One of the five arrested divers had swallowed cyanide and committed suicide to prevent being questioned, and another two who took cyanide were taken to hospital.

The terror attack links are in fact relevant to Arbour's admonition to "governments" as these terror attacks were undertaken by groups that intend to take state power. This one, howerver isn't because it relates to a man who, pre-Spider Hole, actually held state power and lied to the U.N.: Hundreds of WMDs found in Iraq.

And the NY Times continues their normal job of assisting the terrorists by revealing a clandestine program intended to follow the money:

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

Data provided by the program helped identify Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2005, officials said.
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

I wonder if they are referring to Hambali. who provided the money, or to Canadian Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, who paid the bombers directly for the Bali bombing. *
The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, "has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities," Stuart Levey, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.
Maybe liberals are so shrill about the rights of terrorist because they also enable terrorists.

(Louise Arbour is a Canadian, if that needed clarification.)

*09:46 - FoxNews TV says it was probably Hambali.

12:23 - Newsbeat1 has a nice list of terrorists killed or captured since Zarqawi's death.

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June 21, 2006

Privates Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca

June 21 - It was probably as well that I couldn't post this morning. I'm no less angry this evening, but the best steel is tempered and going white-hot in the moment diverts us from the aims of the war.

Anyone who, after Sept. 11, still believed we were dealing with a rational enemy, should have been disabused of that notion after the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl. The video-raped beheading of Nick Berg and the triumphant circulation of that vicious act on the internet was yet another blow to individuals who, and I say this with respect, wanted peace instead of war.

Who the hell doesn’t prefer peace? But when the cost of peace means turning Iraqis and Afghans (and that's just for starters) over to the kind of monsters that murdered Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, and countless others, then excuse me for a second so I can grab my gun compose myself.

Bless today's uncompromising New York Post editorial (may require free registration) Barbarians

Thuggish, depraved butchers - that's what America is up against.
And John Podhoretz, who cautions that this latest barbarity may exploit our divisions and alter not only our strategy but also our principles:
But the kidnapping and apparent torture/murder of Privates Tucker and Menchaca may represent a new strategy. If similar kidnap efforts are successful, if this event was not a fluke but an ambitious new tactic to throw Coalition forces off-balance, then things are going to change in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq likely hopes to make service personnel believe themselves at risk of death by torture from any band of Iraqis they encounter - so that they'll act differently: cautious, suspicious, with the hypervigilance of someone in the midst of a battle. If it works, civilians who mean our armed forces no harm may find themselves shot or killed by mistake as a result of the hair-trigger posture our forces will have to assume to keep themselves safe.

Could anyone blame them?

The answer, of course, is yes. If this is a new strategy, it exists not only to terrorize American and Coalition forces but also to divide them from Iraqis - to sow fear and hostility that will go both ways, to cause an upsurge in resentment and anger toward U.S. forces.

Our soldiers already know this.

There is a further reason for cooler heads to prevail. I think it likely that this recent barbarity was an al Qaeda public relations stunt intended to shift focus from brutalizing Iraqis back to brutalizing coalition forces.

Al Qaeda's recruitment posters proclaim "Kill Americans, See the World." Their Iraq chapter has graphically demonstrated that they are returning to that basic theme in an effort to restore their reputations after Zarqawi's indiscriminate murder of Muslims revealed too much about the true nature of al Qaeda.

This isn't the first time we've been outrageously provoked (remember the bridge in Fallujah?) and it likely won't be the last, but we are not children, we are not to be diverted, and we will pursue this war to victory.

19:38 - Bombing an ice cream shop? Not exactly a high-value target, unless you are targeting kill civilians (or children.) The so-called insurgency is all about bloodletting, not politics. No matter their banner, all the anti-Iraqi forces have been unmasked and I think Zarqawi's legacy will be impossible for any of them to overcome.

20:00 - The Boston Herald drives home the point that the Silence deafening when U.S. is torture target (via Newsbeat1.)

Of course, torture is wrong yet if the inmates at Gitmo don't like rock music we can always alter our tactics. How about playing them some Gershwin? or Bernstein? Some Tiny Tim would be nice, but that's probably going too far.

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June 09, 2006

Zarqawi is still dead

June 9 - I'm slowly moving from the giddiness occasioned by the elimination of the monsterous Zarqawi but the process, as they say, is far from complete and besides, I'm not really in any hurry.

I am kind of relieved that I'm not the only relic person who sang "Ding dong the witch is dead" upon first hearing the news.

I won't comment on the revelation that Zarqawi was still alive when Iraqi police and U.S. forces arrived on the scene because we all have, um, imaginations.

Okay, maybe a little sobriety. Christopher Hitchins writes Why Zarqawi's death matters:

Zarqawi contributed enormously to the wrecking of Iraq's experiment in democratic federalism. He was able to help ensure that the Iraqi people did not have one single day of respite between 35 years of war and fascism, and the last three-and-a-half years of misery and sabotage. He chose his targets with an almost diabolical cunning, destroying the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad (and murdering the heroic envoy Sérgio Vieira de Melo) almost before it could begin operations, and killing the leading Shiite Ayatollah Hakim outside his place of worship in Najaf. His decision to declare a jihad against the Shiite population in general ... has been the key innovation of the insurgency: applying lethal pressure to the most vulnerable aspect of Iraqi society. And it has had the intended effect, by undermining Grand Ayatollah Sistani and helping empower Iranian-backed Shiite death squads.
Read the whole thing, because Hitchins also revisits former Sec. of State Colin Powell's 2002 address to the U.N. in which he cited Zarqawi's presence in Iraq.

Abu al-Masri has been mentioned as the probable successor to Zarqawi. So an Egyptian is likely to replace a Jordanian to head al Qaeda in Iraq? It seems to me that this rather bolsters claims that there are a number of foreign fighters in Iraq, and certainly the inability to name an Iraqi to head the terror group there implies a degree of isolation that I find hopeful.

It hardly needs be said that the biggest challenge for the Iraqi government will be to take aggressive steps to contain the sectarian and criminal violence.

Let Zarqawi's epitaph be that, in the end, he failed.

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June 08, 2006

Zarqawi is Dead. Dead. Dead. (Updated)

July 8 - (Updating continuously and time stamp intentionally keeps this on top.)

06:29 - The no-good, m-f'ing, murderous pscyopath is dead: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi Killed in Bombing Raid. I wonder how he likes it in Hell?

My son called me at work at 4 a.m. this morning and said "You want to hear some good news?" Heh. I hope my, um, enthusiastic response doesn't get me fired. The downer: I told the other people, and none of them knew him by name and I had to list some of his crimes.

And it looks as though they used my fav-ou-rite weapon: Predator and Hellfire.

This is huge, and I mean huger than capturing Saddam Hussein or killing Udai and Kusai, and in terms of the immediate strategy for Iraq, this may well be the turning point. More later, perhaps, when I settle down.

One last word: I can never think of Zarqawi without thinking of Nick Berg. Well, he has been avenged at long last. Rest in Peace, Nick, and all those who fell victim to that monster.

07:32 - I'm still blushing over the language that I used when I first heard the news. I so need to wash my mouth out with soap.

How wonderful and appropriate that Iraqi police made the identification! He has orchestrated the murders of so many of them -- as well as those who stood in lines to join the police (and army) -- that I can easily imagine their grim satisfaction that a vicious foe has been "eliminated."

Pres. Bush is speaking on this, and although he is far more cautiously optimistic than I, I do echo his closing: God Bless the Iraqi People, and God Bless America.

Okay, so now U.S. officials are being cautious. Lord give me strength: I was not convinced that capturing Saddam was going to stifle the insurgency but they thought such was the case however, as I stated at the outset, I think this is bigger than they are saying (maybe because their own optimism has led them astray before? They really need to read more blogs.)

Now Dan Senor is speaking, and he is hitting the nail on the head: this latest instance of "blasting the bastard to Kingdom Come" shows that it take time and patience, but the days of people like Zarwawi are numbered.

I haven't heard anyone say it yet but I just know some wanker is going to try to throw cold water on this and prattle "but Bin Laden is still loose" to which I will pre-emptively respond "what's your point?" I don't care about Bin Laden, I want the strategists and the architects of terror like Zarqawi and al-Zawahiri. I want bin Laden to watch helplessly as his followers fall one by one because more and more people choose to stand up to those who try to rule them by terror, and finally for him to die a lonely, disillusioned man with only bitter dreams of glory to comfort him. I want him to know utter despair before he dies.

8:03 - Rats. Not Predator/Hellfire. Oh well, he's still dead.

08:09 - Australian PM John Howard is more enthusiastic:

"The reported death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is great news for the people of Iraq, the real victims of his murderous behaviour," he said.

"He has been the principal architect of terrorism in that country.

"Not only does his death remove a cruel terrorist, but it's also a huge boost for anti-terrorist forces in Iraq."

The Prime Minister said the Iraqi Government's determination to destroy terrorism should be supported.

"The determination of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and his new Government to confront terrorism and the insurgency is something that everyone should support," he said.

I love that guy.

Tony Blair was concise as always:

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said al-Zarqawi's death "was very good news because a blow against al Qaeda in Iraq was a blow against al Qaeda everywhere."
Properly his words should be up on the BBC website but I couldn't find his comments there and I haven't seen any comments yet from Canadian PM Harper. The CTV does quote "terrorism expert" Eric Margolis, though, at that link. They just can't help themselves.

08:39 - Michael Yon's post is aptly titled Death Finds the Devil's Second Most Favored Serpent and concludes:

His death will not likely fracture the terror campaign in Iraq because of the disparity of the insurgency itself, comprised of many distinct and disjointed elements, not all of whom were following al-Zarqawi.

Nevertheless, this is an important victory in the GWOT showing that persistent effort can and will produce definitive results. But al-Zarqawi was largely a media-produced terror hero, now that he is gone, let us not produce another.

08:47 - In the press briefing, Caldwell is calling the information collected at the site "a treasure trove" and confirming that they were 100% convinced they were hitting Zarqawi at the "safe house." Heh. Another humourous concept is that Zarqawi's "spiritual advisor" was also killed.

I may as well admit it: I really, really wish that the kill had gone to the Iraqis. It would have been appropriate given how many of them he has killed as well as a tremendous confidence booster for the police and army. Again, though, I think that being the ones to identify his body parts was a great source of satisfaction.

The press briefing showed Zarqawi's head. Of course there was no intentional irony.

One dead Zarqawi
Courtesy of FoxNews.

11:47 - A good round-up of reactions here at Pajama's Media (link via Newsbeat1.)

I want to extend a hearty congratulations to the people of Iraq, who have endured more than their share of monsters. This may not be the end of their road but I hope this represents a significant turning point for them.

I need to get some sleep, and it occurs to me that a great many mothers in Iraq are settling their kids down for bed about now. None of us can predict what tomorrow will bring, but is it really too much to hope that tonight, if only this night, all of Iraq's children can sleep without fear?

Posted by Debbye at 02:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

On Haditha

May 30 - Yes, I remember My Lai. In fact, I'm old enough to actually remember My Lai -- as well as the subsequent court-martials and sentences that were handed down because following orders then, as now, were not grounds upon which U.S. military personnel can base their defense.

But I also remember Jenin. After much of the media and pundits denounced Israel, the U.N. reported the following:

Palestinians had claimed that between 400 and 500 people had been killed, fighters and civilians together. They had also claimed a number of summary executions and the transfer of corpses to an unknown place outside the city of Jenin.

The number of Palestinian fatalities, on the basis of bodies recovered to date, in Jenin and the refugee camp in this military operation can be estimated at around 55. Of those, a number were civilians, four were women and two children. There were 23 Israeli fatalities in the fighting operations in Jenin.

There's a lesson there, people.

However tempting it may be to denounce unproven allegations, I'm willing to wait because, just as happened with My Lai, the Ongoing Probes Will Yield Facts About Haditha Incident.

Not speculation, allegations and rumours but facts.

As a sidenote, many of those in the media (ahem, Haroon Siddiqui and Toronto Star) did not apologize to Israel for their hysterical condemnations after the Jenin fraud was exposed. That failure, by any reasonable yardstick, is what separates propaganda from honest news reporting.

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No points for subtlety

May 30 - Anti-Iraq forces aren't even trying to be subtle: Future City Hall Bombed in Lutafiyah.

Fortunately neither are we, as the same article also notes that "coalition forces killed three terrorists and detained 10 more suspects in three incidents May 28."

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2006

Keep those letters coming in ...

May 11 - The translation of the letter recovered in a raid on a terror house in Samarra is available here and is well worth reading despite the length.

The writer's evaluation of the limited tactics al Qaeda can employ are chilling:

1. ... The only power the mujahidin have is what they have already demonstrated in hunting down drifted patrols and taking sniper shots at those patrol members who stray far from their patrols, or planting booby traps among the citizens and hiding among them in the hope that the explosions will injure an American or members of the government. In other words, these activities could be understood as hitting the scared and the hiding ones, which is an image that requires a concerted effort to change, as well as Allah’s wisdom.
2. The strength of the brothers in Baghdad is built mainly on booby trapped cars, and most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin without any organized military capabilities.
3. There is a clear absence of organization among the groups of the brothers in Baghdad, whether at the leadership level in Baghdad, the brigade leaders, or their groups therein. Coordination among them is very difficult, which appears clearly when the group undertake a join operations
4. The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction.

This direction has large positive effects; however, being preoccupied with it alone delays more important operations such as taking control of some areas, preserving it and assuming power in Baghdad (for example, taking control of a university, a hospital, or a Sunni religious site).

Investor's Business Daily has an excellent analysis of the letter, noting that it laments the sucess of U.S. efforts to build Sunni political organizations that will participate in rather than try to destroy the new Iraq government and has some great commentary on the aspects of the document that connect the terror bombings to how they understand the manner in which the U.S. media is likely to portray them yet overlook the political gains in Iraq. The analysis concludes with an all-too familiar question:
But there's also a question just screaming to be asked: When al-Qaida itself knows we're winning this war, how come Democratic politicians and the media elite in America want us to declare defeat?
The answer is both self-evident and elusive. Clearly the terror attacks, especially in Baghdad, are made-to-order for a news media that thrives on spectacular events and too often seeks to prove their compassion by portraying the Iraqis as helpless victims, yet that is precisely what they failed to do when Saddam was ruthlessly murdering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and dumping them in in mass graves (new mass graves are still being found but when did that last make the front page?)

Yet why does the news media seemingly protect the images of both the Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda? It is as though the mindset of CNN, which confessed it had repressed news about atrocities in Saddam-era Iraq in order to maintain their offices in Baghdad, still operates on the part of too many in the media. Most of us recognize that those responsible for the bombs are those who planted them, but it is hard to keep that focus when the media relentlessly blames the U.S. and President Bush for the actions of a cruel and vicious organization.

Actually, I do understand the U.S. mainstream news media. Their problem is that they balance their eagerness to expose American real and imagined wrongdoing by downplaying the wrongs of others; in other words, they seek balance through imbalance. Oh well, no one said they were capable of self awareness or there would have been more red faces onscreen when they covered the significant turnout for Iraq elections -- the same elections which they had solemnly predicted would not even take place.

Back to the letter, read this part again:

The only power the mujahidin have ... is planting booby traps among the citizens and hiding among them in the hope that the explosions will injure an American or members of the government. In other words, these activities could be understood as hitting the scared and the hiding ones ...

2. ... most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin without any organized military capabilities.

That's fraking cold. How many Americans or members of the government do they think go to markets? How many children are they willing to kill in the forlorn hope of getting one American? I don't think I'm bloodthirsty but damned straight I rejoice when one of those miserable bastards is sent to Hell.

(Investor's Business Daily link via Newsbeat1)

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April 20, 2006

I love April (but hate tax time)

Apr. 20 - Mark's youth team (he's a lowly coach) had some exhibition games on Saturday. They seemed to field and pitch okay, but don't have game sense, i.e., they don't seem to know what to do with the ball when they field it.

It ought to be simple. Before the ball is put into play, fielders need to have a notion as to what they will do if the ball is hit to them and what they will do if it's not hit to them, i.e., what position they will back up. It's not exactly hard to figure; after all, a 3-1 play is fairly routine (that's the first baseman tossing the ball to the pitcher for the out at first) and I know the kids have seen it several times.

And relay. It's a baseball fundamental, but kids don't get it - they want to be the hero who throws it into home from left field. They also don't get why trying to hit a legitimate home run (as opposed to a single and 3 errors) is selfish. The sorriest statistic in the world is "runners left on base."

And deeking out a baserunner? Dude, we call that a balk.

Strikes are fascist, ground balls are democratic. The truth and implications of that statement is crystal clear to me but very difficult to explain to those who don't already know it. Luckily I don't have to; Mark does. Heh.

I hate the way the concept "team work" has been bastardized. In a sports setting, team work is the magic that happens when the players have a winning attitude and bust their asses to win the game. The fielders do their utmost to retire batters and "passed ball" is regarded by catchers as grounds to commit suicide. Everything comes together and the bang-bang plays create an intensity and excitement that drives the entire team. Who doesn't love a clutch hitter?

Team work is that intangible thing that cannot be artificially created but comes straight from the heart - a stubborness and perseverance that marks those who strive to win.

In a work setting, though, team work seems to be code for "some people need to work harder to cover up for those who refuse to perform." If a company really wants team work they need to do as sports teams are supposed to do: bench or release players that won't or can't strive to win in order to keep that winning edge.

It's going to be an interesting season.

I managed to get a few consecutive days off work before Easter and resolved to do those things most easily deferred: my taxes, and washing the windows and curtains.

The windows and curtains really do need to be done. I haven't done them since Sept. 11 despite my earnest intentions. Somehow it always seemed more important to surf the news channels and internet to see if there had been another terror attack - and, too often, there had indeed been one.

But I found we had only a tad of window-washing solution, so I did my taxes - sort of. Mind, I was very well prepared. I had sharp pencils, the correct forms, my adding machine, scratch paper, all my receipts, and some cold beer in the fridge to celebrate the successful conclusion of this annual ritual. When I went to get my T-4, though, it wasn't where I had seen it less than 24-fraking-hours earlier.

I began to search, and boy did I search. I found all sorts of papers and mailers and stuff I meant to look at (some of it went back to the beginning of Gulf War II, which I guess is a commentary as to how long I've been shutting out everyday stuff) and, because I still suffered with a mild variety of the spring cleaning bug, I began to toss or file. Then I went through the newly bulging files; I'm not sure why I had baseball registration lists from 1997, but I can honestly say that now I no longer have them. Was I still procrastinating? Yes, because all the figures I needed were on my final pay voucher of 2005 so I finally bit the bullet and did my stupid taxes (and called work Monday morning to humbly request a replacement T-4.)

Then I noticed this weird smudge on a wall. You know what happens when you wash a smallish section of a wall, right? Right.

If anyone next to you has just fallen off their chair you are undoubtably sitting beside someone who knows me and how much I hate housework. It was all very well and good when the kids were little (and, come to think of it, spending most of my time trying to up clean the dirt they and the dog brought in from outside) but that was the in the pre-Internet era as well as those days when all history ended and life is much more exciting now - and considerably more dangerous.

Solutions seem harder to come by now (maybe because the Cold War strategy was conceived before I was even born.) Except for Iraq: that one is as simple as A-B-C. We keep faith with the people of Iraq. We don't flinch. We stick it out.

Iran, though, is hard. Those who discount the messages coming out of Iran as simple rhetoric simply haven't been paying attention. Bin Laden used to be dismissed too, until we learned to our shock that he meant business.

We can't go back to 1979 (which is why a long vacation would look good on President Carter right now) and have to deal with what is happening today. The U.N. will likely be useless - will there likely be a new Oil-for-Food program for Iran after sanctions prove to be a burden on the Iranian people? Puh-leeze.

And then there are those voices that are carefully implying that if we abandon Israel we'll end the "root causes" that caused Sept. 11 and the threat from Iran. But let's get serious: the root cause of barbarism is, you know, barbarism, and even the barbarians didn't occupy Rome until the Romans had lost the will to fight -- most clearly evidenced in that they had sub-contracted their fighting out to others.

Come to think of it, one of Bin Laden's grievances was on behalf of dead infants in Iraq which he attributed to the sanctions. Has he lifted the jihad now that the sanctions have been lifted? Or directed one to Saddam for diverting money from health care for his own personal gain? Of course not. There will always be grievances because there will always be those who will justify unbelievable acts of savagery for their own ends. But do we have to play along?

I would be willing to go on a bit of faith that the cartoon controversy was viewed by many national leaders as a skirmish and the feckless response was simply a feint, but something very precious was seen to be surrendered: the right to be irreverent, and without irreverence we lose our joy. No South Park? No Simpson's? Or, and this is really scary, no Monty Python?

Those who take themselves too seriously run the risk of ulcers and migraines, but I doubt waiting for the dour mullahs to develop life-style health problems is a useful strategy.

So the spectre of nuclear weapons in Iran - a country that has absolutely neither reverence for international relations much less a sense of humour - continues to pose a problem that challenges us all. I do feel certain we need to come up with a strategy that differs from those employed in both Afghanistan and Iraq and the best one I've heard thus far is to give more tangible support to the pro-democracy forces within Iran. It's a long shot, and I guess that even though I never would have characterized myself as a gambler I do remain, at heart, a liberal (in the classic sense) and I'm willing to gamble on my belief that the yearning for freedom remains the most compelling urge in the history of humanity.

Relying on the choice less hopeful is straight out of Tolkien - the quest to destroy the ring was one such choice, and Arvedui's claim of the kingship in Gondor was another. [That's an admittedly obscure reference; my fellow explorers in the the History of Middle Earth will undoubtably recognize it and others can find it in the Appendix of Return of the King where Earnil's ascension to the throne is discussed.]

Oh well, I'll do the stupid windows and curtains over the weekend but place the responsibility on Mark to remember to buy window cleaner. That might work, but I know I'll have to keep reminding him. And if it rains, maybe he'll have to cancel practice and then can help me take the curtains down!

Yeah, sometimes team work means cursing obstinate household fixtures together.

Posted by Debbye at 05:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 06, 2006

Sometimes they get it right

Apr. 6 - I must be a very bad person because this headline made me laugh: Saddam-era judge insists 148 Shiites sentenced to death all confessed. Right. I'm sure they did. Torture has that kind of effect.

Posted by Debbye at 06:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Worthington on Saddam's trial

Apr. 5 - Peter Worthington reprints a column he wrote in 1959 about another trial during Baghdad's bad old days.

It's pretty illuminating and, through the comparison, indirectly chastizes those who may be unhappy with the way Saddam's trial has been proceeding. One could say that Saddam is getting far better than he deserves or swing the other way and call it a travesty, but this column refutes both extremes.

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March 30, 2006

Predator gets 3

Mar. 30 - The Predator silently watched while three wannabes planted a homemade bomb near Balad Air Base in Iraq and then let them have it:

The Predator monitored the three terrorists for about a half hour while they used a pick ax to dig a hole in the road, placed an explosive round in the hole, and strung wires from the hole to a ditch on the side of the road. When it was clear the individuals were placing a bomb, the Predator launched the 100-pound Hellfire missile, killing all three insurgents.
The article also notes the weapons piles that have been located by tips from civilians. I call them patriots.

This has been a growing trend and further evidence of the growing sense of responsibility Iraqis feel for what happens there, and I find it so thrilling to watch as Iraqis assume more and more control over their country. The base assumption of the war in Iraq was our belief that their capabilities would render our presence unnecessary once the clean-up was done, and the continued line-ups for both the police forces and the military -- despite the attacks on the aspirants -- argue that this willinginess to take responsibility for themselves is neither a figment of anyone's imagination nor political spin but a real manifestation of energy and optimism.

Three years in and there's a lot more to do, but it's worth it. Indeed it is.

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November 18, 2005

Rooting out the corrupt

Nov. 18 - Background checks didn't work in this instance: Issuing Contracts, Ex-Convict Took Bribes in Iraq, U.S. Says:

A North Carolina man who was charged yesterday with accepting kickbacks and bribes as a comptroller and financial officer for the American occupation authority in Iraq was hired despite having served prison time for felony fraud in the 1990's.

The job gave the man, Robert J. Stein, control over $82 million in cash earmarked for Iraqi rebuilding projects.

Along with a web of other conspirators who have not yet been named, Mr. Stein and his wife received "bribes, kickbacks and gratuities amounting to at least $200,000 per month" to steer lucrative construction contracts to companies run by another American, Philip H. Bloom, an affidavit outlining the criminal complaint says. Mr. Stein's wife, who was not named, has not been charged with wrongdoing in the case; Mr. Bloom was charged with a range of crimes on Wednesday.


The charges against Mr. Stein and Mr. Bloom have emerged from a sweeping probe of rebuilding contracts by a task force led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, and including investigators from the criminal investigations division of the Internal Revenue Service, the immigration and customs enforcement section of the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department's inspector general.

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November 17, 2005

"Nobody was beheaded or killed."

Nov. 17 - Can you imagine another country in the Mid-East (excluding Israel) in which allegations of torture would receive such media attention?

CNN's title is extremely misleading (Iraq official defends 'torture' facility) as Bayan Jabrm, Iraq's interior minister, didn't state there was a 'torture' facility nor was he defending the legitimacy of 'torture.'

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's interior minister has defended a government facility that was found to be holding dozens of prisoners, including some showing signs of torture, saying it held "the most criminal terrorists."

"Nobody was beheaded or killed," a defiant Bayan Jabr told a news conference Thursday, saying that only seven of 170 detainees showed marks of torture.

"Those detainees, those criminal killers inside the bunker were not Indians or Pakistanis or Iranians," he said, waving a stack of passports in the air. "Those are your Arab brothers that came here to kill your sons."

He said one detainee who had been reported as paralyzed was afflicted before his arrival at the facility and had been used "by one of the terrorists" to set off bombs.

"They gave the handicapped $1,000, and he was just a beggar," Jabr said. (Emphasis added.)

The minister said a judge was in charge at the facility and was dealing with each case. Jabr pledged to hold anyone who has tortured a detainee accountable.

"I will punish them if (the investigation) proves they are responsible for any violations," he said.

It is easy to be skeptical of Jabr's account of a handicapped man being used as a homicide bomber, but the revelations that mentally handicaped children were being used to launch terrorist attacks against Israel lends some credibility, no?

However, if the media are really interested in this kind of story there are thousands of mass graves in Iraq and I understand a great many people have stories of torture under the loving gazes of Saddam & Sons. They could investigate the treatment of prisoners in Egypt or Iran. They could even interview Bill Sampson as to the treatment he received from the Saudis.

Please believe that I'm not downplaying how serious these allegations are nor pretending that I am not dismayed by them, but merely pointing out that torture in many prisons (or holding facilities) is sadly common in many non-democratic nations. Zahra Kazemi was tortured in Iran and Bill Sampson was tortured in Saudia Arabia, yet Iraq is the likliest to actually take the allegations seriously, undertake an earnest investigation into the matter, and find out who is responsible.

This is a regrettable but not surprising bump along the road as Iraq attempts to rebuild her nation from one terrorized by a madman into one that respects human rights and is willing to protect those rights. (Heck, European and North American nations are still working on that human rights thing.)

I still have faith in the Iraqi people, and I wonder if future generations will talk about Iraqi "exceptionalism" or regard them as pioneers on uncharted terrain?

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October 23, 2005

The Media got it wrong? Surely you jest.

Oct. 23 - John B. was right on the money. From Newsbusters, Stephen Dupont, the Australian Journalist Who Filmed Burning Taliban Bodies Suggests Media Got it All Wrong and that "the bodies were burned purely for reasons of hygiene when the local villagers refused to retrieve them, and that the American soldiers didn't do anything wrong." (My bolding.)

I sympathize with the villagers who refused to pay any honour to the dead Taliban. I doubt somehow that they are among those who are expressing how shocked, appalled, offended and humiliated they feel - at least now that the Taliban has been removed from power.

There is also some discussion about the psy-ops strategy which I like to call "Come out and play if you have a pair."

Am I take this too lightly? Maybe it's just my way of establishing a defensive perimeter so as to better withstand the expected battery of vapidly moralizing journalists who won't be able to refrain from running and re-running this story into the ground.

Do members of the news media actually fail to grasp what happens when terrorists detonate bombs? The blackening of the body parts is not due to the intense cold.

(Via Neale News.)

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Michael Yon on the Iraq referendum

Oct. 23 - Michael Yon's eagerly awaited article on the Iraqi referendum vote All Quiet on the Baghdad Front in online.

Great read. Michael Yon has the uncommon ability to speak to us - not around, through, over, or beyond us - and reflect those private doubts and fears we allow ourselves to experience only after the fact. He begins by writing about the January elections:

There were bombs exploding, mortars falling, and hot machine guns. The fact that the voting was going great despite the violence was something few people expected. Until that day, I'd been skeptical about Iraq. Not fashionably cynical, merely skeptical. ..But nobody really knew what the Iraqi people had in mind, and the Iraqis were the people who counted most.

The millions who voted sent a message: Serpentine lines of ebullient Iraqis risked their lives--dozens died--to have a say in their futures. ..

The courage of the Iraqi people that January day planted a seed of confidence. These were not timid or cowering souls. ..The voice of the Iraqi people had risen above the clamor of insurgent violence.

Aw, hell. I am so tired of myself crying when I read these things. I may as well accept the fact that I'm incurable and just sniff away as I write.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I expect that everyone will read this article and I don't intend to do much more than highly recommend it, but I must note the honesty about uncertainty as to "numbers" with which Yon concludes:

Next morning, I got information from the Army that there had been 19 attacks on polling sites throughout Iraq, and in January there had been 108. There may be some garble in the numbers (there usually is). There had actually been somewhere between 300 and 350 total attacks on the January election day. And the army would later say that there were 89 total attacks during the voting last week. Who knows? I know that it was quiet from my perch, and that the guns had been silenced long enough that we could hear the Iraqi voice speak for a second time. The voice was louder, stronger, and prouder than it had been in January.
Some of Mr. Yon's best-known photos and the compelling story of his journey in Iraq are here, and, with all deference to UNICEF and the Smurfs, the following declaration must be placed on the balance scales as to why we are in Iraq and why we give battle:
I've been criticized for using terms like terrorist and enemy in my dispatches. Most critics are a safe distance from the battleground. Up close, its more than a matter of taking sides. There's no value in using imprecise language in a futile attempt to appear objective. There is a difference between Coalition soldiers and Iraqi police officers and the terrorists and criminals they confront. Whether you call them insurgents or resistance fighters or terrorists, the people who wake up in the morning plotting how to drive explosives-laden cars into crowds of children have to be confronted.
That is the reality in Iraq and thus the banner under which we fight. That many do not like the fact that the U.S.A. is in the forefront of this war is a damning reflection on the morally impovershed state of those who would take refuge in their acquiescence to evil; the fact that the proud British, Australians, Italians, Polish, Danes and other those of other Coalition nations are capable of seeing beyond narrow confines of immediate gain today and keep their aspirations fixed to the world they envision tomorrow still fills me with awe and breathless gratitude. The Spanish who fled and those who still stand aloof - and I must include Canada among them,
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
I vote we name Michael Yon as the "Most Trusted Name in News."

Don't forget that you can listen to Michael Yon This Sunday, 9 p.m. ET, on Pundit Review Radio.

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October 21, 2005

"Do these people not feel the shame and disgrace that shroud them?"

Oct. 21 - Lots of people should feel shame these days for things that have been done, things that have not been done or said, and things that should be done but most likely will not be done.

'Omran Salman has written about the continuing extermination of Shi'ites in Iraq and attacks the silence of Sunnis there and that of Arab journalists and statesmen throughout the Mideast: "Aren't the Arabs Ashamed When Some of Them Massacre Iraqi Citizens?":

"What can we say in light of the attitude of the Arab media [in general] and the Arab satellite channels in particular, which report the killings, the slaughters, and the suicide bombings among Iraqi citizens coolly, treating them as routine events [and] as part of what has been termed 'the series of [acts of] violence in Iraq?'

"The war being waged by the Al-Qaeda organization and the terrorists against the Shi'ites in Iraq is among the acts of collective extermination, which is rare in modern history. There has been no case in the past in which somebody has declared a similar war against a race or a group as a whole, except [for the case of] Nazi Germany against the Jews...

"The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq and similar [bodies] in Arab countries have issued dozens of fatwas about current political issues, but have not issued even a single fatwa declaring bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, or Al-Zarqawi to be infidels because of their killing of the Shi'ites."

Salman could have included much of the Western media in his denunciation because they too have failed to place the targeted murders in the context of al Zarqawi's stated purpose, preferring to pretend that the bombings of civilians is part of the "insurgency."

Since we're on the subject of shame, the media silence about the recent Iraq referendum has been deafening, and Oliver North does some sharpshooting in The purple finger effect:

The same potentates of the press who focused for weeks on hanging chads in Florida five years ago widely ignored one of the most dramatic political events of our time. In the midst of a bloody war, politicians in an Islamic country spent seven months drafting their own constitution and then sent it to their people for ratification.
More shame: the U.N. report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri has concluded that Syrian officials were behind the bomb that killed Hariri and
CNN was able to obtain a copy of the report given Thursday to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Security Council members, which lists the names of the men accused of planning the February 14, 2005, bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people.

The names were not in copies of the report released for general distribution.

In addition to Maher Assad, the Syrian president's brother, those investigating Hariri's death accused Assef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law; Jamil al-Sayyed, head of Lebanese intelligence; Hassan Khalil, former head of Syrian intelligence; and Bahjat Suleyman, a personal friend of the Syrian president, as participating in planning the assassination.

A witness, who is Syrian but lives in Lebanon, and who claims to have worked for Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon, told investigators that about two weeks before Security Council Resolution 1559 was passed, the officials decided to assassinate Hariri.

President Bush spoke about the report today:
"Today, a serious report came out that requires the world to look at it very carefully and respond accordingly," he said. "The report is deeply disturbing."

Bush said he instructed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to "call upon the United Nations to convene a session as quickly as possible to deal with this very serious matter."

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, will be meeting with the author of the report, German prosecutor Detleve Mehlis, Friday morning, and will urge the U.N. Security Council to meet and "consider options." That's all very nice, but the U.N.'s options are extremely limited. They can't ignore their own report, but would the General Assembly pass a resolution condemning Syria? and then ... what?

Lebanon is a member of the agency of "francophonie" as are France, Romania and Benin, nations which currently sit on the UNSC, and thus one would expect them to exhibit some degree of solidarity, right? [As an aside, Canada, New Brunswick and Quebec are also members of the agency of francophonie.]

One group that realistically might be able to exert pressure on Syria is the EU. They were quick to make overtures for increased trade with Syria after the U.S. Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act in 2004 and are thus in a position wherein they could at minimum impose sanctions. Right.

(Memri link via Newsbeat1)

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A burning body maybe, but where's the evidence?

Oct. 21 - Okay, I've watched the footage of what appear to be U.S. soldiers standing on a rock under which boots and maybe a human body are burning (available by link at story at CNN.com U.S. State Dept: Video 'very troubling') but what I haven't seen is any evidence that U.S. soldiers set the boots or any body alight.

I heard a U.S. soldier - in a separate shot - reading a statement in which he taunts members of the Taliban to come out and fight like men, but that's nothing new. (I've done it myself.)

I'm trying to think through a lot of possible possibilities, and another thing I can't say I saw was any indication that the purported burning body was that of a Muslim. What if it was that of a Hindu, many of whom are our allies in Afghanistan?

Burning bodies is supposed to be a major no-no for Muslims, yet we didn't hear the same level of aghast horror last year at a bridge in Fallujah so spare me the angst now.

It's hard to burn a human body (but not harder than it is to flush a Koran down a toilet) and I have to wonder why, if this reporter could film a burning body, he wasn't able to film the steps leading up to the burning of said body. Something easy, like tossing a burning match. Something that would be evidence.

There's something very off here.

Oct. 23 - John B. had it right as to hygiene being the reason why the bodies were burned. Read Journalist Who Filmed Burning Taliban Bodies Suggests Media Got it All Wrong.

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What don't get they about "when the mission is completed?"

Oct. 21 - The Washingto Post had an un-insightful item yesterday: Rice Declines to Give Senators Timeline for Germany South Korea Iraq Withdrawal.

I could have included Bosnia/Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa in the strike-outs, but it was already getting a tad long! (Feel free to add your own favourite "quagmire," but Los Angeles is off-limits!)

I hate to disappoint the Post, but most Americans understood going in that it would be a long-term committment. We also understood that sticking this through would meet our long-term objectives far more than cutting and running.

Having said that, it also grieves me that some of our best men and women are being killed and maimed over there. It just seems wrong that the intelligent idiots in their ivory towers babble on while those who many - including me - consider their betters are on the front lines.

Where are all those human shields, anyway? They would protect hospitals and electrical stations under Saddam's rule but not under Iraq home rule? Couldn't they at least protect the defense lawyers for Saddam's trial? (No link yet, but word has it that he has been found dead.) [07:45 - link now available here.

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October 18, 2005

Referendum results surprise Iraqis

Oct. 18 - Ballots from Saturday's referendum in Iraq are being scrutinized amidst allegations of tampering by many who are suspicious of the strong "yes" vote (Iraqis Continue Checking Referendum Results.)

It's too early to rule anything out, but I wonder if the answer is far simpler. Maybe Iraqis - Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds - are sick and tired of the "insurgency." They are tired of the electrical failures, they are tired of worrying that a visit to the local market will turn into bloodshed, they are sickened by the atrocities being visited in the name of Islam, and they are tired of being linked to monsters.

There is a further consideration. Although many of the stories after the take down in Fallujah were anecdotal, they bore striking similarities (especially of the restrictions placed upon women) and the grisly discovery of bodies and butcher rooms were horrifying. The Sunnis were probably more distressed by al Qaeda rule than has been credited and that too could account for a strong "yes" vote.

Enter the often overlooked brilliance of the "secret ballot." No matter what you say, what poster you carry or what button you wear, once you're in that booth you can vote as you please and it's strictly between you and your conscience.

It's possible that many saw approving a new Constitution - with provisions for later improvements - as a chance to begin to lead normal lives.

Just my $ .02.

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October 17, 2005

On the Iraq referendum

Oct. 17 - From "Debate on al Qaida's losses in Iraq" by Walid Phares in the World Defense Review.

There is some solid analysis of the dynamics of the vote and how the gradual realization that they are one country had shaped the debate about the referendum as well as the growing competency of the Iraqi army and police units.

I'm only going to quote from what I see as the critical component: getting the Sunnis involved in the process. After boycotting the vote last January, Sunnis began to revisit their rationale and

... Seeing a new parliament acting, media flourishing, and political life developing, many Sunni groups, cadres and leaders crossed the line from boycott to engagement in the political process: First by adhering to the constitutional discussion; second by participating in the referendum, even with a "no" cast.

By August 2005, there was a Sunni "position" toward the constitutional debate. Many among them distanced themselves from the Zarqawi "refusal of all constitutions" to a "criticism of this constitution." The integration was slow, and will remain so, but it is happening. The national consensus is not total, but it is widening and strengthening, by bits.

Now an overwhelming majority of Iraqis have put an end to the dictatorial past and rejected the terrorist agenda. The differences are nevertheless wide, but the country wants political "treatments."

The essay also deals with the wider implications of Saturday's vote which makes clear why this was an Iraqi victory.

Do I need to repeat that? The vote wasn't about us. The vote was not a referendum on us but a referendum in which Iraqis cast ballots to decide on the political structure of their country.

Mr. Phares generously calls it an "American achievement" but I think even that overstates it a bit; we created the conditions that made it possible, but the Iraqis made it happen.

David Adesnik at Oxblog looks at the Sunni vote and makes some astute observations. He concludes:

In contrast, I think the Sunnis have decided that they should give the political process a chance in order to see whether it produces better results than the insurgency -- while using the insurgency to improve their position at the bargaining table, just as Arafat used suicide bombings as an adjunct to the negotiating process rather than a substitute for it.

Of course, Arafat was never willing to abandon violence no matter how many concessions he secured. .. Arafat was also able to draw on a major reserve of international support, both political and financial.

In contrast, the Sunnis control nothing and get only few shreds of support from Syria, et al. They have a lot more to gain from peace.

As the president has said many times, we will leave Iraq when the job is done. This vote brings us closer to that day, but neither the referendum nor the results are going to end the insurgency. Other means will continue to be employed. [Fox changed the story so I'm changing the link to a more reliable one.]

(Walid Pharas link via Instapundit.)

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Collaborationists by any other name still stink

Oct. 17 - It's so hard not to make writing about significant al Qaeda captures a cause for personal celebration. Therefore, I won't try: Al Qaeda 'propagandist caught',

Yasir Khudr Muhammad Jasim al-Karbali, also known as Abu Dijana, was apprehended in the September 25 raid, the military said.

He was the senior Al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda cell leader for Karabilah, Al Qaim and Husaybah, the statement said.

"Abu Dijana's cell consisted of photographers who used video and still photograph images to document insurgent attacks against Iraqi citizens and Iraqi and Coalition Forces," according to the statement.

"Local Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders notified Abu Dijana of impending attacks in the area, at which time he would contact his terrorist cell members and provide them with equipment and supplies needed to record the attacks."

Abu Dijana later collected the photographs and video and forwarded them to other Al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda officials for their use, the military said, and the images were made into terrorist propaganda products for distribution through print and Web sites.

Don't expect me to rationalize why CNN felt it appropriate to include "caught" in their death quotes, but given the degree of propaganda we endure in North America, maybe it requires no explanation.

I guess not only al CNN but also al AP, al Reuters, al BBC, al CBC and al Jazeera will have to find another news tipster. (If you think that's harsh, I'll send you what I deleted.)

Also, well said, Damian. Too many are so anxious so see the U.S.A. fail in her efforts to bring democracy to certain nations that they have forgotten those principles which once impelled those of us who are, and in some rather significant ways remain, liberals.

What madness pits damning US foreign policy against cheering for human rights? Only the wankers can answer that.

For me, truth remains in these immortal words:

That all men [insert "and women"] are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
The racial superiority that lies in the assertion that Muslims are incapable of living under consensual governance is becoming increasing odious and I am finding it harder and harder to contain my rage.

Tell me this: if Muslims cannot abide consensual governance, then why do we welcome them to our countries? and why do they immigrate here? You can't have it both ways! My worldview believes that all people thirst for freedom and that's why they come here and that's why Iraqis hit the polls despite the real threats to life and limb. The apologists for al Qaeda evidently have another worldview and they need to state clearly and unequivocally why they believe Muslims are racially or ethnically unwilling to embrace democracy yet why we welcome them to countries that are governed by consensus.

My worldview takes facts into account. What about the worldview of the wankers terror apologists? They've moved the goal posts so far that they're situated beyond even the bleachers and still moving and headed for what? Lake Ontario? The Pacific Ocean? (I'm indulging in a bit of drowning imagery here. Feels good.)

Yes, I'm angry. I'm actually furious. I'm willing to die for freedom. People I care deeply about are putting their lives on the line in the cause of freedom, yet too many others are willing to applaud those who murder to stifle freedom. Yet they are the "liberals" and I'm the "conservative."

You know what? Bite me! or, to be less polite, FOAD. Like, soon. Either come up with a plausible explanation or crawl in the hell-hole you dug and just shut up. I won't really miss you.

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October 15, 2005

Vote in Iraq

Oct. 15 - Today's vote went off smoothly, and the few disruptions were handled by Iraqi security forces. Overall turnout is about 61% and whichever way the vote goes, the result will be determined solely by the will of the Iraqis.

Mohammed reports that coalition presence was limited to helicopter patrols and has photos of today's events.

The big bad terrorists went all out to spread mayhem and fear before today's vote on the proposed Constitution in Iraq: they disrupted the electricity service in Baghdad. Yawn. The most newsworthy aspect of that story is reporters were so desperate for bad news that they actually bothered to report it.

Whenever I read about "the struggle for hearts and minds" I wonder what the heck they're talking about. Seems to me that the flame of liberty is already pretty firmly in Iraqi hearts and they clearly have their own minds!

I'm off for the night, but Instapundit has links analyzing today's events in Iraq.

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October 14, 2005

Bring on the purple finger!

Oct. 14 - How many times and in how many countries have Constitutions been submitted to the electorate for ratification? Five years ago, who would have believed such an event - a free vote - could take place in Iraq, of all places?

From IRAQ THE MODEL: Iraqis preparing to decide:

People on the street, TV and radio are all talking about the coming historic event while papers went on hiatus since yesterday but many of them published the document on Wednesday to ensure that more people get to read it.
Although the distribution didn’t go perfectly, I doubt there are many who didn’t get the chance to take a look as the document was published many times on different outlets including websites and there were many discussions on TV where articles were discusses thoroughly. Add to this the thousands of workshops and lectures organized by NGOs. So I think it’s fair to say that only those who weren’t interested in the subject would say that they didn’t have the chance to read the document.
Those who have bewailed the disagreements, compromises and threats to boycott have kind of missed the point of democracy: the intensity of the political debates in public forums - and I cannot overly stress the word public - is the ultimate counter-argument to those who have tried to persuade the world that Muslims don't have the democracy gene, for what is democracy if not people publicly debating public issues without fear?

Mohammed recalls a different kind of discussion over another vote in the recent past:

I am so excited but a flashback from Saddam’s referendum three years ago still hurts; he wanted a 100% as the 99.96% of the previous one shocked the dictator. I was depressed that way and I decided not to go to the voting office and so did the rest of the family but my father was afraid that not going could be dangerous.
He said that maybe one member of the family could go alone and cast votes for the rest of us. We looked at each other thinking who’s going to volunteer to do this ugly job to protect the family. At that moment my father said “it was my generation that caused the misery we’re living in so I’m the one who should do this”.
I couldn’t stop him and I couldn’t utter a word but I felt sad for him; his sacrifice was big and I had teary eyes when I watched him taking our papers and heading out.
We take so much for granted over here! The purple fingers humble we who casually accept our liberty so let loose! Loudly cheer the steadfast Iraqis (and the Iraqi army, police and security forces) who have braved bombings, kidnappings and assassinations to pursue this freedom thing.

Have doubts about the success of those Iraqis dedicated to protect Iraq? Read this, via Newsbeat1:

While languishing in prison under the Saddam regime, General Rasheed and his superior, General Adnon, formulated the idea of a commando style unit.
Their idea, to say the least, has been highly successful!

I'm off to work but can hardly wait to turn on the news when I get home tomorrow morning. It's going to be a long, exciting night.

Let freedom ring!

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October 07, 2005

Zawahiri: Send money!

Oct. 7 - (Sorry about the silly title, but I'm on my sixth day/night with little sleep and I couldn't help thinking that Zawahiri's reqeusts for funds sounds like the stereotypical college student writing home.)

Nevertheless, the request for money is astonishing. The general impression had been that al Qaeda seemingly had limitless funds, but if the letter accurately represents al Qaeda's financial state I have to wonder if maybe we have indeed been successful in cutting off their funding - including that which many of us suspect came from Saudi Arabia.

The rest of the letter (ahem, treatise) is perhaps less surprising. Zawahiri evidently realizes that Zarqawi is as much a psychopath as Saddam & Sons but he's trying to reason with him. Maybe he should have received the Nobel Peace Prize instead of elBaradei ...

Silliness aside, the implications of this 13-page comminque are deadly serious (U.S. Obtains Treatise By Bin Laden Deputy) and confirms the reasons why the U.S. is hanging tough in Iraq.

These days leading up to the October 15 referendum in Iraq are likely to continue to be bloody but the treatise makes clear how vitally important that vote is. The results are somewhat secondary to the fact that there will be a vote and that the people of Iraq will have the final voice in the destiny of their country.

On the plans to extend jihad, is it just me or would not taking Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Israel effectively tighten a noose around Jordan and Saudi Arabia? And no mention of the Palestinians? That is a glaring omission given the civil war taking place there.

Iran is also left out. Or is it counted as "mission accomplished?"

I still haven't had a chance to do more than scan the transcript of President Bush's speech at the National Endowment for Democracy (and like the passion of what I've read) but hot damn! releasing the treatise at the same time as that speech was well-executed.

Please, Mr. President, do it more often! Let's stay focused on the aims of this war and the horrific consequences of appeasement or, unthinkably, failure.

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October 05, 2005

Is it "sectarian civil strife" if only one side is attacking?

Oct. 5 - Hillah: A bomb kills 25 and wounds 87. Inside a mosque. During the funeral service of a victim of a previous homicide attack. Part of the mosque is destroyed.

CNN notes that Iraqi police were at the funeral and might have been the targets. Riiight.

CNN offers the usual analysis that this is all sectarian civil strife, but is that accurate?

Doesn't "civil strife" imply that both sides are attacking one another and setting off bombs in mosques? Yet bombs have been going on in Shiite mosques, not Sunni mosques. Shiites have been targets of terrorist attacks, not Sunnis - unless they are Sunni Kurds. Non-Kurdish Sunnis are only 20% of Iraq's population, and, despite political overtures from Shiites and Kurds that have been extremely generous, they have been obstructionists to establishing consensual government in Iraq.

Although Shiites are the majority in Iraq, they are not the majority of Muslims, and that may explain why many Muslims are seemingly indifferent to desecrations of Shiite mosques and the murders of Shiite civilians and why the U.N. and Saudis are more concerned about the Sunnis than the Shiites that are being slaughtered.

The religious tensions between Shiites and Sunnis casts a different light on the rebuke delivered by Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr to Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia:

Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, had expressed concern about growing Shi'ite influence in Iraq during a visit to Washington last month.

Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, a member of the Shi'ite Islamist Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, fired back during a press conference in Amman yesterday, saying, "We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal issues, regardless of their political status. ...

"This Iraq is the cradle of civilization that taught humanity reading and writing, and some Bedouin riding a camel wants to teach us. This talk is totally rejected," he said.

He could have gone much further. He could have accused the Saudis of exporting the cult of terrorism through the religious schools they've established throughout the Muslim world. He could have pointed out that many suspect that Saudi money is financing the wave of terror aimed at Shiites in Iraq. He did point out that the suppression of political freedoms in Saudi Arabia hardly make them authorities on establishing consensual government:
He also took a swipe at the Saudi monarchy.

"There are regimes that are dictatorships. They have one God. He is the king, he is God of heaven and earth, and he rules as he likes," Mr. Jabr said.

"A whole country is named after a family. If we open these topics without inhibitions, it is neither to our benefit, nor to theirs."

The exchange between the two ministers reflects wider tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites that divide the Arab world and are behind many of the problems in Iraq, including a stubborn insurgency and the failure of the country to unite in support of a new constitution.

I have to admit that the Shiites and Kurds have been far more patient with Sunni intransigence that I would be, but maybe that is changing:
Iraq's National Assembly voted on Wednesday to reverse last-minute changes it had made to rules for next week's referendum on a new constitution.

The United Nations had criticized the change as unfair to Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which had threatened to boycott the vote.

After a brief debate, the Assembly voted 119 to 28 to restore the original voting rules for the referendum, which will take place October 15. Only about half of the 275-member legislative body turned up for the vote.


U.S. and U.N. officials hope that restoring the original rules will avert a boycott of the referendum by the Sunni minority, would have deeply undermined the credibility of the vote and wreck efforts to bring Sunnis into the political process.

To Western minds, those who don't vote have no right to complain about the outcome. The Sunnis boycotted the January elections but were still appointed to government positions in an effort to unite the country (which is something we understand fully as "going the extra mile") but the Sunni insurgents have exploited that sentiment by continuing to attack Shiite targets.

Maybe - just maybe - restoring the original rules will be interpreted as a sign that the 80% of Iraqis who aren't Sunnis are losing patience and want to get on with ratifying a constitution, electing a government, and rebuilding the country.

I'm with the 80%. The Sunnis once ruled Iraq and, hard as it may be to relinquish total power, at some point they must be made to realize that if they are to have any power it will have to within the framework of a power-sharing government.

(Washington Times link via Newsbeat1)

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October 03, 2005

Terrorists criticized by Human Rights Watch

Oct. 3 - Maybe I was too pessimistic on Saturday when I despaired that there was sufficient tinder to feed Muslim outrage over terrorist attacks.

Human Rights Watch has condemned terror attacks by anti-Iraqi forces (whom they call insurgents) and accuse them of committing war crimes. They also say that the attacks are backfiring and reducing popular support for the anti-Iraq forces. (Link via Mudville Gazette.)

In Afghanistan, the assassination of candidate Mohammed Ashraf Ramazan sparked protest demonstrations by nearly 4,000 in Mazar-e-Sharif. Ramazan was a Hazara, an ethnic group that is about 10% of Afghanistan's population, and the protesters accused international peacekeeping forces and the Karzai government of discrimination which led to the lack of security which enabled the killing. (Link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Captain Ed reports that the Balinese are going from shock to anger and asking Why us?. He also points out the the usual excuses given for attacks on Western targets simply don't apply to Bali or Indonesia as a whole.

It should be remembered that some of the largest demonstrations against U.S. intervention in Iraq took place in Indonesia yet bombs still went off in Jakarta and Bali.

Pieter focuses on some of the reasons why the Balinese are targets and draws a parallel between the challenge fundamentalist forces pose to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

Instinctive anti-Americanism once sufficed as an excuse for the apologists of terrorism but the instict for survival may yet prove more persuasive.

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Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson

Oct. 3 - As women we demand equal rights and accept that, with those rights, come responsibilities. One young woman who accepted those responsibilities was Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson, and on Sept. 28 she became the Air Force's first female casualty in Iraq.

The Cult of the Victim is one side of feminism but I prefer the side that women like Airman Jacobson represent. They let their deeds - not their grievances - speak.

Godspeed though that wild blue yonder, Airman Jacobson. And thank you.

Her story is here and a more personal account is here.

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 01, 2005

New offensive near Syrian border

Oct. 1 - Offensive launched in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) - About 1,000 U.S. service members launched an offensive in western Iraq near the Syrian border on Saturday aimed insurgents from this country's most feared militant group, Al-Qaida in Iraq, the military said.

The operation against "a known terrorist sanctuary" began early Saturday in the town of Sadah in the western province of Anbar, about 12 kilometres from the Iraq-Syrian border, the U.S. military said in a statement.

The offensive also was aimed at stopping foreign insurgents from entering the country from Syria and at improving security in the area before Iraq's Oct. 15 national referendum on the country's draft constitution, the military said.


On Thursday and Friday, Sunni insurgents hit two Shiite towns - Balad and Hillah - with brutal bombings that killed more than 110 people, apparently aiming at scaring Shiites away from the crucial constitutional vote. The car bomb attacks seemed staged to kill or maim as many civilians as possible, tearing through busy markets and commercial streets.

Insurgents have vowed to derail the referendum, and the recent surge of violence has killed at least 200 people - including 13 U.S. service members - in the past six days.

The Sunni-led al-Qaida in Iraq, the most feared insurgent group, has declared "all-out war" on Shiites, and since a Shiite-majority government took power April 28, suicide bombers have killed at least 1,345 people, according to an Associated Press count. (Emphasis added

That last figure should give pause to even the most virulent opponent to the war.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
The success of the January elections was a serious blow to al Qaeda and the forces that oppose consensual government in Iraq (and, indeed, in the Mid-East.) Hence the vicious wave of terrorist attacks during the recent period.

Sometimes when I read about the terror attacks I find myself full of wonder that the Shiites in Iraqi can remain steadfast and withstand the temptation to retaliate. I don't know if I could rise to their example.

The Oct. 15 referendum is important - both in terms of who votes and who boycotts - and, as was the vote last January, it has transcended what we in the West think of as "election day." The press continues to be full of commentary as to how important this referendum will be to the USA, which overlooks the rather obvious fact that it is far more important to the Iraqis. But I suspect that the Iraqis are resigned to the stupidity of our journalists and, if that higher power which dictates such things allow, we may be able to sit down some day and laugh at those wankers.

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson

Sept. 23 - One last thing before I head out. Friday is VDH day at the National Review, and he manages to bring freshness to the old debate over keeping Iraq one, intact nation (Strategy, Strategy Everywhere ....)

I haven't intentionally quit making the case for the war in Iraq, but I find it hard to keep re-cycling the same arguments (besides, it makes me cranky to keep saying the same thng over and over and, you know. Over. Blame it on my kids.)

I can't excerpt from Hanson. The narrative is too tight. Just read it.

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September 15, 2005

Terrorism and world poverty

Sept. 15 - The U. N. continues to dither over defining terrorism and taking a firm stand for freedom. Iraq President Talabani had no difficulty in identifying it during his response (scroll down) to Bush's welcome speech to the White House on Tuesday:

We have also people who are in -- (inaudible) -- who are cooperating with Iraqi forces, and with American forces against terrorism. It is a good signal that our people start to understand that terrorism is the enemy of Iraqi people before becoming enemy of Americans. They are killing our civilians, or innocent children. They are destroying our mosques -- church, everywhere, regardless of what may happen to the people.
Yesterday's terror attacks in Baghdad continued the sad connection with the dead of Sept. 11 in New York, March 11 in Madrid, and July 7 in London: those whose only crime was going to work were murdered by the same merciless group as took the lives of those seeking employment. And what is employment if not a means to secure income to meet the necessities of yourself and your family?

Those who were killed because they have or seek jobs join the fallen of Beslan who were guilty of no more than attending school and the many victims of terror attacks who were guilty of no more than shopping at a local market, enjoying a vacation in Bali, or working in the tourist industries of Bali, Egypt and Kenya.

There is much truth to assertions that poverty plays a role in recruiting to terrorist organizations, but doesn't that beg the question as to why many terrorist actions seem to be intended to further poverty?

Member countries of the United Nations may be unwilling unable to define terrorism, but most of us can see that one of terrorism's goals is to defeat the hopes of people who want to better their lives.

I never thought it probable that the U.N., in which a majority of the member nations are dictatorships, would actually stand up for freedom and human rights anyway but it is interesting to note that terrorism is - properly, in my view - being framed as being a major obstacle to ending world poverty. It seems to me that the British proposal to the U.N. is aimed not only at the bureaucrats, rock stars and NGOs but also to everyday people, most of whom can connect dots and who rely on their common sense more than deconstructionist obfuscations.

Given today's attacks in Iraq in which at least 30 were killed, President Talabani's address to the U.N. in which he asked that the world help defeat terrorism resound all the more eloquently.

On a related note, for those who find it hard to believe that al Qaeda attacks people simply because they want to be free today's roadside bombing in Kabul and the timing of yesterday's attacks in Iraq as well as the threats leading up to last January's elections there should at least be suggestive:

The wave of bombings, which began shortly after dawn and continued until about 4 p.m., coincided with Iraqi lawmakers announcing the country's draft constitution was in its final form and would be sent to the United Nations for printing and distribution ahead of an Oct. 15 national referendum. Sunni Muslims, who form up the core of the insurgency, have vowed to defeat the basic law.
A final thought: the leadership of Iraq continues to impress me with their steadfast refusal to be goaded into a civil war. An old Civil Rights song urged we "keep our eyes on the prize / hold on" and today's Iraqis are exhibiting that kind of resolve. They are truly heroes.

Let Freedom Ring!

[FYI: President Bush's speech to the UNSC is here. British PM Tony Blair's address to the U.N. summit is here (with thanks to Robert for the latter link.) Also, President Bush is not impressed with the UNHRC and blasts them (link via Neale News.)]

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July 04, 2005

For those who walk and hold the line, I thank you

July 4 - I tried to post this last night before I went to work, but Munu was kinda wonky and it wouldn't take.

Anyway, before I catch some sleep I want to be sure to thank the men and women in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Guatamala and around the world who are defending those freedoms that we will be celebrating today.

Three years ago, when many of us were considering whether to encourage proposing action in Iraq, I thought about the stories I had been told about Vietnam, both the trivial and the grand, and fully understood that the risky enterprise of ending first Gulf War would lay a burden of responsibility on us all (as indeed do all weighty national decisions.)

The generals report that the troops ask if we still support them; the short answer is Yes! and a longer answer is abso-freaking-lutely!

I'm a blogger, not a reporter, and so I can elect not to post about our losses especially as I write from a foreign country, but I do grieve for the fine men and women we've lost in this operation even as I renew my resolve that their sacrifice not be in vain.

A little known character trait of many Americans is that we often don't talk about those things that lie deep within our core. We made the decision to go to Iraq, we made that decision with our eyes wide open, and nobody lied to us or misled us. We knew on September 11 that we would have to deal with Iraq sooner rather than later and, as the President laid out our goals in Afghanistan in his address to Congress, we understood that the promise he made to drive out the Taliban and bring consensual rule to Afghanistan was the opening shot in a battle that would save the people of the Mid-east as well as ourselves.

We understood these things as only a free people can understand them: instinctively, intuitively, and in every fibre of our being because Sept. 11 reconnected us with our national charcter as well as our values and love for freedom in ways that - and I say this with complete humility - transcended all other experiences in my lifetime.

The real question is not why millions of Americans recognize the connection between Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein but rather why others do not. Us ignorant folks seemingly have a better grasp of how lives that stagnate under repression and lack of meaningful ways to express the aspirations and ambitions of the individual person can spawn the desperation of terrorism than all the nuanced fools who proclaim themselves to be our intellectual betters.

So yes, we support America's sons and daughters in the military utterly, completely and with the full weight of our hopes for a free future and we ask your forgiveness for the sacrifices we have asked of you.

Yes, we support you; yes, we support your mission and, yes, we can hardly wait until you come home.

Godspeed, and Happy July 4th!

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Walking the line

July 4 - Michael Yon continues to deliver some of the best commentary from a non-military source in Iraq. For those who have been reading his entries "Walking the Line," part IV is up and I highly recommend it even though it's hard - even traumatic - reading.

(If you haven't been reading Yon regularly,, be sure and read Part I, Part II and Part III.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

The president's speech

June 29 - Not much to add on the President's address last night, although the irritation by some that Sept. 11 was mentioned would seem to affirm Rove's observations on the reaction of the left to that infamous day.

Root causes, people. Remember them?

They [the enemy] know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty, as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.
As we inch toward success, those who chose to express their opposition to the war by characterizing it as President Bush's personal war it might do well to remember that the Civil War at one time was referred to as "Mr. Lincoln's War" and he ended up being known as the Great Emancipator.

It almost makes me glad that journalists don't take history courses.

One perhaps original thought: as I read the speech, it struck me that media focus on the presidential election of 2008 might inadvertantly be sending a different message to the anti-Iraqi terrorists, who may be believe that they need only hold on for another 3-1/2 years until an appeasement president is elected. (Please note that is not an accusation, but merely an observation with a vague speculation.)

Nice joke in this email which I got from a friend who got it from a friend who's brother sent it to him. Need I mention the brother lives in Alberta?

A popular bar had a new robotic bartender installed.

A fellow came in for a drink and the robot asked him, "What's your I.Q.?"

The man replied, "150."

The robot then proceeded to make conversation about Quantum physics, string theory, atomic chemistry and so on.

The man listened intently and thought, "This is really cool." The man decided to test the robot. He walked out of the bar, turned around, and came back in for another drink.

Again the robot asked him, "What's your I.Q.?"

The man responded, "100." So the robot started talking about football, baseball, and so on. The man thought to himself, "Wow, this is really cool."

The man went out and came back in a third time. As before the robot asked him, "What's your I.Q.?"

The man replied, "50."

The robot then said, "So, you gonna vote Liberal again?"

I will be working two shifts tomorrow (mostly so than I won't feel guilty when I book off on July 4) so want to take the opportunity now to wish those of you getting out of town a happy Canada Day and Independence Day! Camping, barbecues, baseball games, hot dogs and beer. What's not to like?

Posted by Debbye at 06:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

I wish I had me a Democrat to vote against!

June 28 - Sorry for the non-posting; I've been trying to get to sleep before the full heat of the day sets in but that means I wake up when the family starts drifting home and using the computer.

I have to work tonight so will miss the president's message, but there are some things I wish he would say in addition to those he is expected to say.

I wish he would start by reminding us of the feared casualty figures in the taking of Baghdad at the start of Iraqi Operation Freedom. You'll remember, I'm sure, the urban house-to-house fighting scenario that was envisioned; I don't remember exactly how many casualties were anticipated but it was in the five digit range.

We were prepared to accept those losses. What does it say about us that we were prepared to accept a huge number of casualties in the early days of the war but can't handle what are undeniably lower figures over a longer period?

I wish he would say that the anti-Iraqi forces too understand Vietnam Syndrome and that they know that the steady drip-drip of casualties sap at our will and fortitude. The only issue is if we will capitulate to it or, recognizing their strategy, remain implacable.

Nothing has changed in our reasons for trying to change the unchallenged rule by despots in the mid-east. The mission remains the same. It takes effort and will to endure in any long-term struggle, and we have those qualities within us and need only to marshall them.

I wish he would say that "everything" didn't change on Sept. 11; that day was simply one event in a series of attacks on the U.S. What did change is that we had a president who responded with more than words.

I wish he would then remind those indignant over Rove's remarks about the response of many liberals to Sept. 11 that those recollections were accurate, and that perhaps they doth protest too much and that should we revert to pre-Sept. 11 policies we would be making ourselves more, not less, vulnerable.

I wish he would explain to Barbara Boxer that the reason he is unable to get European allies to assist in Iraq is because they are more anxious to appease the Islamofascists than confront them. It's not a failure in American leadership but rather the timidity of a European leadership that has yet again failed to confront fascism.

I wish he would remind Sen. Clinton that she had her chance to influence American response to terror attacks during her eight years in the White House and that, given the abject failure of the Clinton administration to adequately respond to those attacks, shutting up might be a good plan.

I wish he would go off-topic and state that it is deeply stupid to start the 2008 presidential campaign now, and remind Democrats that they would be wiser to worry over the mid-term elections.

I wish he would tell the US media to lay off the round the clock coverage of the missing girl in Aruba.

Lastly, I wish he would denounce the "no trans fat" Oreo and urge legislation that declares the original Oreo to be a national treasure and forbid tampering with or altering it.

Posted by Debbye at 05:44 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 16, 2005

Douglas Wood's rescue

June 16 - Wretchard makes some very shrewd observations about the rescue of Australian Douglas Wood in Iraq in The Six Weeks.

Posted by Debbye at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

The fork in the road

June 15 - Even though I don't often post about Iraq, it is never far from my mind. It is painful to read that bombs kill 28 but it reminds us of what kind of people are held at Gitmo: monsters who deliberately target and murder civilians. Such acts are clearly outside the rules of engagement and that is why the Geneva Convention, which sought to protect civilians, takes a harsh view of "illegal combatants."

It is beyond my comprehension that so much sympathy is wasted on those of their ilk rather than on their victims, who are guilty of nothing more than going to work or shopping (much as were the victims of Sept. 11.)

At some point the high road taken by left wingers came to an abrupt end and the road forked. Their ideals were confronted by their anti-anything-American, and they found themselves confronted by the same philosophical, moral and ethical dilemma that has challenged us all since Sept. 11.

The failure of the left is that they thus far refuse to recongize that there is a challenge which requires they think through their ideology and adapt. Rather, they remain frozen at the fork, seemingly unable but perhaps incapable of departing from their traditional anti-Americanism to offer ideas and solutions in this new war with an enemy which, they shouldn't need reminding, implacably opposes all our beliefs in tolerance and human rights.

One curious item in the report from Iraq is on the arrest of Jassim Hazan Hamadi al-Bazi, also known as Abu Ahmed:

In announcing the arrest of al-Bazi, the government said he built and sold remote-controlled bombs used in roadside attacks from an electronic repair shop in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.

He sold the bombs for about $18,000 each "and was involved in building suicide vehicle" bombs and land mines that were used in Balad and Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, the statement said.

I would like to take that to mean that they are worried about funding, but I suspect that al-Bazi was feathering his own nest.

Paradoxically, his rights will be protected only because the Iraqi government he is trying to destroy adheres to the sanctity of those rights, whereas the government he wishes to impose does not. Had he been caught under the reign of the Islamofascists or the Ba'athists, he would have endured torture and a painful death.

And the left would have been silent.

04:49 - Dr. Sanity charts La Belle Indifference of the mainstream press and, were I not inherently tech-challenged, I would try to devise a similar one for the Canadian media and the current political crisis.

Tables may defy me, but I can make a list!

Item #1 - PM Martin said he was mad as hell over Adscam, but Opposition Leader Stephen Harper is faulted for appearing angry.

Those who adhere to a double-standard cannot be considered impartial or objective.

Posted by Debbye at 02:32 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

Further down that road

June 7 - Michael Yon continues the narrative of his travels in Iraq. After leaving Dohuk (his visit was recounted here,) he travels a bit further afield to a Yezdina village inhabited by a people who practice an unusual and ancient religion and his visit with Mr. Qatou Samou Haji Aldanani, the Headman of the village, is to relive the past 25 years of Iraq's history.

Future possbilities and memories of the past merge in Michael Yon's Lost in Translation.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 PM | Comments (2)

June 05, 2005

Got a hammer?

June 5 - Greyhawk's Dawn Patrol reports against a sobering backdrop:

Insurgent violence has claimed the lives of 12,000 Iraqis over the past 18 months, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said Thursday, giving the first official count for the largest category of victims of bombings, ambushes and other increasingly deadly attacks.
The WaPo article then reports some news in Operation Lightening and thus tacitly acknowledges that there is just cause to hunt down the "insurgent" bastards.

This item actually appears a quarter through the Patrol, though, because Greyhawk prefaces today's entry with something he wrote last January after the Iraqi elections:

So amidst the triumph, I saw yesterday as a Memorial Day, of a sort, for those many who fell to make it possible. Some might try and use those deaths for their own ends, or to justify their belief that we should never have walked this path. Such people don't believe in heroes. They can't even comprehend this simple fact; no one is more opposed to war than the soldier. He knows the cost and has seen the carnage. But as I wrote at the top of the sidebar long ago: The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior, who prefers to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day he stands fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.

Today we re-build broken things. Grab a hammer or get out of the way. (Italics in original)

Read the whole thing, follow the links, then grab a hammer. There's lots to rebuild here, too.

Posted by Debbye at 07:05 AM | Comments (0)

Operation Lightening

June 5 - Marines Find 'Insurgent Lair' Outside Baghdad.

Air conditioning? I guess it is one thing to detonate bombs that will tear the limbs off of children in a marketplace but an entirely different thing altogether to be uncomfortable while planning those attacks.

Posted by Debbye at 02:48 AM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2005

A road less well traveled

June 3 - One last link before I try to get some sleep, and it's about something that I for one really need: a smile.

Michael Yon, who is embedded with the historic Deuce Four, has a post and some photos from his stay in the Iraqi city of Dohuk outside of Mosul:

A visit to this place affords more than a break from the rugged routine of war; it also provides a postcard of a possible future for all of Iraq.
We can get so lost in operations, terrorist bombings in mosques and casualty figures that we feel as if all of Iraq is in turmoil and forget that most of Iraq's people are busily building, working and thriving because they have faith in their futures.

Many thanks to Mrs. Greyhawk's Dawn Patrol for linking us up to this all too rare look at what's happening in the sections of Iraq that few reporters see fit to visit.

Another bit of news: Jason Van Steenwyck re-upped. He was thinking of hanging up his spurs but, as he put it,

... my government is asking me to stay on one more year in command. And how can an officer turn down command?
I don't know!

Posted by Debbye at 01:42 PM | Comments (1)

May 25, 2005

From the field: an embed speaks

May 25 - Michael Yon, who's photo "Little Girl" spread across the internet and became part of the American historical record, writes about how information is dissiminated among journalists in Iraq And now, for the rest of the story.....

Interesting read, and very discomforting. If the U.S. military is reporters' main source they ought to admit it instead of trashing the military. Maybe they feel guilty because they aren't doing their jobs properly? (I don't exactly blame them - I'd fear for my safety too were I there - but they should be more honest about how they collect the news.)

(Link via Newsbeat 1

May 29 - I hope I didn't give the impression that I was criticizing Mr. Yon. He is doing what a true reporter does - getting the facts himself in the first-person-singular manner we once assumed all reporters did.

Posted by Debbye at 07:25 PM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2005

Two Operation Squeeze Plays

May 23 - That's right, two, and they both are taking place in Baghdad.

The first is military: Iraqi, U.S. troops launch offensive:

Seven Iraqi battalions backed by U.S. forces launched an offensive in the capital Sunday in an effort to stanch the violence that has killed more than 550 people in less than a month.
From the D.O.D., Operation Squeeze Play Aims to Crack Down on Terrorists:
WASHINGTON, May 23, 2005 – Local commanders from the Iraqi Interior and Defense ministries and coalition forces met May 21 to discuss Operation Squeeze Play, which is designed to deal with terrorist actions in Baghdad's Rusafa neighborhood.

"This is just the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the Iraqi police, public-order brigades and the Iraqi army. From now on, forces from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense and coalition forces will work together to defeat the terrorists in Baghdad," U.S. Army Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of coalition forces in the eastern Baghdad area, said to open the meeting.

An Iraqi commander said it was important to note this was the first time all the different Iraqi ministry units were meeting to talk about an operation. "This will go a long way toward making all of our groups more effective and unified," he said. (Emhasis added)

It was not without price: the price must be endured:
Four U.S. soldiers were killed May 22 in operations in Iraq, while coalition and Iraqi forces continue to round up weapons and suspected terrorists.

Three soldiers attached to Task Force Freedom were killed and one was injured in two separate terrorist attacks in Mosul, military officials in Baghdad reported. The injured soldier was taken to a combat hospital for treatment.

One Task Force Liberty soldier died of his wounds after a car bomb exploded near a combat patrol in Tikrit, officials said.

But we must maintain our focus on the big picture:
In other operations, coalition and Iraqi forces in Baghdad detained 285 suspected terrorists in less than 24 hours, officials said today. The action was part of Operation Squeeze Play, a "massive joint combat operation," which is still under way, to hunt down, kill or capture terrorists who have been staging attacks in the Iraqi capital.


"The majority of Iraqis are fed up with terrorism and terrorists, and they're doing something about it by turning them in," Kent said.

Iraqi and coalition forces have realized some recent successes in thwarting attacks. (Emphasis added)

Freedom isn't free, an old axiom yet one nonethless true, although the ongoing attacks on civilians wasn't supposed to be part of the deal.

Zarqawi has tried to alter the conditions of war, and although he may believe it is acceptable to murder innocent men, women and children in his bloodlust, we most vehemently disagree and will forge on and conduct this war under our terms and true to our moral convictions.

And as for second squeeze play, we have this not terribly surprising story from the NY Times: Sunni Arabs Are Uniting To Compete with Shiites, a somewhat misleading headline which reports something that was hoped for:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 21 - In a stark reversal from earlier this year, when Sunni Arabs boycotted national elections here, a broad gathering of Sunni sheiks, clerics and political leaders formed a political alliance on Saturday, seeking to win back the political ground they had lost to Shiites.

The meeting was the first wide-scale effort by Iraq's embittered and increasingly isolated Sunnis to band together politically, and was broadly attended by what organizers said was about 2,000 Sunni Arabs from Baghdad and nearby cities. The gathering was an implicit acknowledgment that it had been a mistake to turn away from the political process and allow Shiites to control the government for the first time in modern Iraqi history. (Emphasis added.)

Let Freedom Ring! Iraq belong to the Iraqi people - Sunni, Kurd, and Shiite - not us, and most certainly not to a deranged Jordanian psychopath.

There's a bit more in the article about feigned outrage over posting the photos of Saddam in his undies, which of course was wrong (and besides, gave my cats nightmares) but I'll always have this:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.jpg

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 PM | Comments (6)

May 16, 2005

Saddam's Russian friends

May 16 - Taha Yasin Ramadan, Saddam's vice-president, told a U.S. Senate committee that oil vouchers were "compensation for support" in efforts to lift sanctions against the former regime.

A report issued by the investigation sub-committee for Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has named highly placed Russian political figures as recipients of the oil vouchers: Alexander Voloshin, former chief of staff to President Vladimir Putin, and Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Russia's foreign ministry said it would be unethical to comment before the final release of the U.N.'s own internal commission report, an investigation with which Russia says it is cooperating.

The Senate committee will hold hearings on this matter tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 07:41 AM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2005

Operation Matador concludes

May 15 - The NY Post concludes that Operation Matador was a success:

A weeklong U.S. offensive near Iraq's border with Syria was pronounced a success yesterday, with military officials saying soldiers had "neutralized" a rebel sanctuary and killed more than 125 militants.

Many more guerrillas were injured and 39 with "intelligence value" were captured, the military said in a statement. It provided no details about the detainees.

Nine U.S. Marines were killed and 40 injured during the campaign known as Operation Matador, during which American forces searched the Euphrates River villages of Karabilah, Rommana and Obeidi for followers of Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The capture of people of "intelligence value" cannot be underestimated - it allows cover to pursue leads without endangering sources who could have been outed otherwise.

The DoD has more.

It's difficult not to look for a sub-text in the names of operations as this one, and I found my own interpretaiton in the nature of bull-fighting itself: the use of a diversionary cape to keep the bull distracted and the "moment of truth" each matador faces when he must allow the bull to come very, very close in order to kill it.

(The closest I can come to describing the intricate beauty of bull-fighting is to refer you here.)

11:00 - Belmont Club has two posts from Thursday: one here with analysis and one here which quotes from an AP dispatch sent from the other side of the Syrian border.

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

May 13, 2005

Operation Matador - Day 6

May 12 - retro-posting (again!) noting the final steps as this operation winds down Suspected Insurgent Hideout Flattened in Iraq:

The U.S. offensive — one of the largest since militants were forces from Fallujah six months ago — came amid a surge of militant attacks that have killed more than 420 people in just over two weeks since Iraq's first democratically elected government was announced.

Snipers opened fire on the motorcade of Interior Ministry undersecretary Maj. Gen. Hikmat Moussa Hussein in western Baghdad on Friday, killing one of his guards and wounding three, police Maj. Moussa Abdul Karim said. Hussein escaped unharmed.

Elsewhere in western Baghdad, insurgents fired on Iraqi soldiers who were searching the area, prompting a 30-minute gunbattle, said police Maj. Abdul Karim. There was no immediate word on casualties

Ralph Peters makes this observation:
Terrorism revealed its soul: merciless, vindictive and in love with death itself. There's no strategic plan behind the slaughter of Iraqi workers in a marketplace in Tikrit or the butchering of other Sunni Arabs in Hawija. Suicide bombings in a Baghdad bazaar don't have cunning goals.

The terror attacks are no longer about changing Iraq. They're about punishment.


Zarqawi isn't hopeful. He's outraged. And humiliated. Now he's out to make Iraqis pay for choosing freedom and peace over brutalized religion and ethnic fascism.

Consider the locations of recent bombings. Tikrit was Saddam's hometown. Hawija had been a hotbed of fanaticism and resistance. A year ago, terrorists and insurgents had the run of the house at both locations, to say nothing of Fallujah. Today? Tikrit has turned from terror. Hawija wants the foreign Islamists out. Fallujah's finished.

The terrorists feel betrayed.

So they kill. Poor laborers gathered to beg for part-time work. Women and children. Police recruits. Low-level officials. Students. And any passers-by who get in the way. Simple Muslims slain by "holy martyrs of Islam" in suicide vests. By the fountains of paradise, Mohammed must be weeping.

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

Operation Matador, Day 5

May 12 - (This is just a bit of retro-posting for the sake of continuity) Bombs and assassinations in Bagdad Bombings Kill Two Iraqi Security Officers, Three U.S. Soldiers

Posted by Debbye at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

Operation Cobweb

May 11 - Operation Matador is not an isolated offensive; 'Operation Cobweb' Targets Enemy in Iraq's Wasit Province:

Coalition soldiers from Multinational Division Central-South conducted Operation Cobweb from May 6 to 10 to find and capture terrorists in the northern part of Iraq's Wasit province, military officials in Baghdad reported today.
The 1st Polish Brigade Combat Team, the 8th Iraqi Division and the 19th Iraqi Brigade participated in the operation, officials said.

A written statement from Multinational Force Iraq said the operation had "liquidated" the terrorist group that had been operating in southern Baghdad.

Twenty-nine suspects were detained; 40 kinds of guns were confiscated; and explosive materials and clockwork time fuses were found along with films of the murders of Iraqi Interior Ministry officials and other materials concerning anti-coalition and anti-Iraqi government activities, officials said. Uniforms that were used during executions also were found.

Sorry for the laziness of just quoting from the news release; I'm in a rush (see above post.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Operation Matador - pouring it on

May 11 - The DoD news release makes some very interesting observations about the enemy in Operation Matador: Helping Flush Insurgents From Western Iraq:

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2005 – Troops fighting in Iraq's northwestern Anbar province are facing a sizable and skilled insurgency, with some members seen fighting in military uniforms and protective vests, the Joint Staff's director of operations told Pentagon reporters here today.


Conway said the region has witnessed a buildup of insurgents since the fall of Fallujah, when they began moving west. (Emphasis added)

The use of protective vests isn't a surprise, but uniforms? (Those who read Belmont Club already knew that the insurgency headed closer to the Syrian border when Fallujah was taken.) The DoD report continues:
Conway said he's not surprised by the strength and capability of the insurgency being encountered. "We know this is a determined enemy, that he has the skill and ordnance (and) the weapons to be able to resist fiercely, as we are seeing here," he said.
Attacks on Iraqis who want to be part of their country's future continue, but much as the Battle of the Bulge was fierce precisely because it was the beginning of the end, the intensity of both the defense and the high number of attacks on Iraqis signals not optimism but desperation as Iraqis continue to reject and be intimidated by them.

The Washington Times article by Rowan Scarborough on the operation makes a critical point which in part affirms the value of the January elections:

The war's changing nature is also illustrated by the list of the high-ranking enemy announced as captured by the new Baghdad government. Virtually all of those caught since December have been identified as lieutenants of the Jordanian-born Zarqawi, not operatives for Iraq's former dictator Saddam Hussein.
David Warren put forth a hypothesis early on that the war in Iraq was "carefully hung flypaper" intended to lure terrorists to Iraq, and although I don't think it was so much pre-planned (one would think the Afghan campaign would have been the battleground more than Iraq had there been such a strategy) I do believe it a confirmation of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Belmont Club's post today (which also notes his past analysis of the westward movement from Fallujah and thus saved me a lot of time searching for the older link) looks at a trap between hammer and anvil in which the enemy is caught and why this operation is so critical:

However, the fact that Operation Matador is taking place at all and is being fiercely resisted strongly suggests that both the Coalition and the insurgents regard controlling access to the Syrian border important. That it is contested is an empirical fact, but the really fascinating question is why should this be so. My own belief (speculation alert) is that the single most important requirement of the insurgency is not vast quantities of weapons but a supply of trained fighters and money. There is very little prospect of moving very large quantities of munitions and materiel into Iraq from Syria. Camp Gannon at Qusabayah has closed the road for some time now. But this is unimportant because there are huge amounts of loose explosive and weaponry lying around Iraq and the absolute quantities of these needed to wage a terrorist war is very low. But what is needed, above all, is a steady supply of trainers who will teach locals to build ever more sophisticated weapons from any available material; men who are absolutely committed, unwavering and ruthless; and who are well supplied with money to pay their way. It may be impossible to infiltrate trucks of materiel through the Syrian border, but it is perfectly feasible to trickle in terrorist technicians and pedagogues.
Wretchard believes this is the beginning of a new campaign, and that in the coming period "both sides will probably attack and counterattack not only in geographical breadth, but in along the depth of each other's echelons."

Posted by Debbye at 05:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Barbers targeted in Iraq

May 10 - The Telegraph (UK) describes recent actions in Operation Matador, the current military offensive near the Syrian border to stop the inflow of jihadists from Syria into Iraq. Seems that they are not content to murder Iraqis but also demand a stricter adherence to Islamic law:

... This is most clearly shown in a campaign of violence against barbers.

Since the start of the year 41 have been murdered in the capital, all believed to have been killed for their willingness to cut off a man's beard, in a clear sign that the insurgency is taking a more fundamentalist edge, a shift that is believed to reflect the growing influence of foreign jihadists.

Mohammed Karim, a barber in Baghdad, arrived at his shop last week to find an envelope stuck in the entrance shutter. Inside was a bullet and a note telling him to stop providing shaves and cutting people's hair in the "French style", an Iraqi term for Western cuts.

Mr. Karim put up a sign apologizing for beard cutting and promised to discontinue the service. I don't recall the Minuteman having a facial hair code.

13:27 - More information from the DoD:

Acting on intelligence reports indicating the enemy's location, soldiers from the Army's 814th Multi-Role Bridge Company constructed a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates River.

"Marines crossed over from the southern banks to the north and are now operating in the northern Jazirah Desert and are in pursuit of the enemy," a Multinational Force Iraq news release stated.

Terrorists attacked a Marine convoy near Qaim with small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs, and two suicide car bombs. A Marine M1A1 Abrams tank destroyed one suicide car bomb. The second car bomb damaged an armored Humvee.

No Marines were killed in the attack. Both car bombers died in the engagement, and 10 terrorists surrendered to Marines. Officials said the 10 are being held at a nearby detention center. Coalition and Marine Corps aircraft also participated in the operation.

The news article also reports on more discoveries of munitions caches.

Posted by Debbye at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2005

75 anti-Iraqi forces killed in Iraq

May 9 - A new offensive has begun in the northwestern Anbar province and FoxNews reports indicate that up to 75 anti-Iraqi forces were killed in the first 24 hours of fighting.

There has also been an increase in activity in Afghanistan of late, and yesterday two Marines were killed during a 5-hour firefight. 23 anti-Afghan forces are believed to be dead.

It has been one year since Nick Berg was murdered and his vicious killing was posted on the internet.

I've never regretted watching or linking to it, feeling that it was not so much a punishment or chastisement for supporting the war but an obligation to try and remain honest ... acknowledging that whatever gain might come from this risky undertaking there would be men, women and children lost who could never be returned to this life.

The Fox article quotes from Nick's father: "Forgiveness was something I had been wrestling with since the moment I got the phone call that Nick was dead," he said. "I had this huge burning fire within me, and I wanted to get rid of it."

I don't think we were prepared for the bloodlust of the enemy. We thought we had seen evil on Sept. 11, but what we really saw was a brief glimpse of that evil as the 4 planes went down within 2 hours of one another.

Now we've seen over two years of evil in the present tense and the thousands of mass graves in Iraq bespeak of evil in the recent past tense.

One last thought. Pray for Douglas Wood tonight, if you can.

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (2)

May 08, 2005

109 captured or killed in Iraq

May 8 - It has been an active couple of days in Iraq: a key Zarqawi aide, Ammar Adnan Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaydi, also known as Abul Abbas, was captured three days ago.

Seven service members were killed over the week-end including three Marines and a sailor in a Haditha fire-fight in which we fought insurgents from their fortifications within a hospital. (Haditha is the city in which 19 men were found executed in a stadium.)

We hit back, capturing or killing 109 terrorists and sizeable caches of weapons and explosives in a series of operations.

In simultaneous operations conducted early today north of the town of Al Qaim, 54 terrorists within the circle of known terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were captured or killed, according to Multinational Force Iraq officials today. Coalition forces also destroyed car bombs, bomb-making material and two buildings that contained large weapons caches to include hand- and rocket-propelled grenades.
Al Qaim is near the Syrian border. Yesterday in Bagdad,
... Task Force Baghdad raids snared 38 terror suspects in the Baghdad area, including two high-value targets in a series of early morning raids May 7.

The raids included getting 29 suspected terrorists in the largest strike of the day in south Baghdad. And a separate operation detained five more suspected terrorists, one thought to be the leader of a terror cell in southwest Baghdad. There, troops also found 1,000 rounds of assault-rifle ammunition in a burlap bag covered with mud.

The other members of the coalition were also busy:
In Babil province May 7, Multinational Division Central South forces detained 17 terror suspects during cordon-and-search operations. Iraqi, Polish, Salvadoran and U.S. troops conducted the combined operation in an area of Al Mashru, capturing anti-Iraqi and anti-coalition forces, illegal weapons and ammunition. (Emphasis added.)
We are keeping the pressure on and hitting them in a number of places.

I fear time is running out for Australian hostage Douglas Wood. I haven't commented before mostly because, well, what could I possibly say? We've been though this too many times and I will never be able to pretend that we've gotten used to it.

Hard as it must be for Australian PM Howard and the Australian people, they have taken the right stand. But it still burns.

Posted by Debbye at 08:48 PM | Comments (2)

May 07, 2005

A "sinister nexus"

May 7 - Shaken, Occasionally Stirred has a breathtaking series of posts on connections between the Oil-for-Food Program encompassing the recent revelations of how money from the U.N. Oil-For-Food program was funneled to financiers of terrorists and research has led to threads that may tie into the Abu Nidal Organization. Abu Nidal left a long, bloody trail behind him, including the 1985 Christmastime attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports (another event in the category of things that people don't talk about but haven't forgotten.) He died in extremely odd circumstances in Iraq in August, 2002.

Shaken has put all the links together in this post and connecting the dots has led to either a startling coincidence or something that demands a great deal of explaining by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (or jail time. I'm easy.)

How chilling: the name I found listed in Montreal is Albanna, the same name I found that linked to alleged Oil For Food fund redirection by BNP Paribas.

When I did some background research on "Abu Nidal Organization" (ANO), I saw many references to close ties to Iraq, and routing funding through Lebanon. Perhaps a total co-incidence. But it is chilling to find a telephone listing in Montreal for an Albanna that is renting a furnished executive suite, and shares the same name as an executive for a company in Lebanon linked to Oil For Food contracts placed on hold by the US. Very chilling indeed. Scroll down to my earlier posts to see how the dots connect.

Do as he says. I'm heading back for my second read-through.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Bringing it back home

May 7 - Wonderful post from Stuff I Think You Should Know that connects the the war on terror in chilling, close-to-home terms:

And now, for today's Random Thought (TM)
Israel has been a nation for 57 years now. In that time they have suffered through three all-out invasions. At least three times they have been in a life-or-death struggle for independence. In between, there have been smaller conflicts, and of course, nearly continuous terrorist strikes.


... how about this. The terror bombings we see daily on TV [in Iraq], here at home. Not just one isolated (horrible, yes- massive, yes- four planes, yes- but still just one) incident. Bombings every day. Your local police department, blown up. Your grocery store, blown up. The train you take to get to work, blown up. The car in front of you on the highway, blown up.

D'ya think maybe then we'd get the hint?

People think the War on Terror started for America on September 11. Well, it started for the Israelis the day they became a country- and it hasn't stopped yet.

There is so much more to the post and my excerpts don't really capture the simple power of the piece. I hope you'll read it all and take something from it because sometimes we (or at least I) can use a good, bracing reminder as to why the U.S.A. finally resolved to confront those who wage "war" by using terror as a weapon against civilians and therefore nations which supported terror and harboured terrorists - two of which were Afghanistan and Iraq.

1. Iraq was a strong supporter of anti-Israeli terror. Saddam Hussein provided a financial incentive to successful suicide bombers by gifting their families with US $ 25,000 - the money for which, if it needs to be pointed out, came from his ill-gotten gains from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program.

The corruption of the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program demonized the USA because billions of people held us responsible for deaths attributed to the sanctions, and the corruption of that same program financed murderous terrorism against Israeli citizens. Those who want to believe the U.N. can be reformed must first figure out how the U.N. can wash the blood from its hands.

On September 11 the bond between Israelis and us was strengthened rather than weakened - after all, how many of us chose to view Israelis as role models that day? To draw from their example by forcing ourselves to carry on with our lives despite the burning in our hearts?

Of course, when all the "root causes" were explored, one, pragmatic solution was clearly stated: if we withdrew our support for Israel, we would be in less peril. The cowardly nature of appeasement was thus fully exposed and the offer rejected.

Our reaction to Sept. 11 was decisive yet humane. Although our past half-hearted resignation to those evil things we called the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein reproached our consciences, we gave each of them one last chance to behave honourably - and we even told them it was their last chance. That generosity was rebuffed because they had foolishly failed to learn something every school kid knows: the difference between someone who is beside themselves with frustration and someone who is calm with white hot anger.

Thinking Americans, however, also understood one simple fact: the events of September 11 liberated us because our minds were no longer clouded by those Wormtongue-like whisperers of appeasement and self-hatred. The skies of New York may have been darkened with smoke and ash but we knew the sun still shone overhead and, with a staunch great-heartedness that would have gladdened Tolkien, Great Britain and Australia stood tall and proud as true friends and allies.

2. Iraq was a haven for terrorists fleeing from, among others, us. We knew, for example, that Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Abu Musab Zarqawi had received sanctuary in Iraq (some may remember that Zarqawi was prominently mentioned during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. in February, 2003.)

When President Bush declared war on terror, he reminded us that we are a patient people. It's one of those things that the media and the rest of the world largely dismissed as rhetoric, but Americans understood fully what he meant and a confirmation of a kind was the instantaneous name recognition of Abu Abbas when his capture in Iraq was announced. The names Leon Klinghoffer and Achille Lauro were burned in our collective memory just as surely as Lockerbie and the Munich Olympics.

You see, one of the qualities of patience is that you need not talk incessantly about a certain category of things because with patience comes another admirable trait: perseverance. So we accept that there will be delays, setbacks, detours and that the kids in the back seat will ask "are we there yet?" every 5 minutes - yet we keep the destination in sharp focus, scout and search for the best routes and finally reach journey's end because we actually know the difference between the trip and the destination.

We've endured much death and bloodshed, but there have also been triumphs, the most celebrated ones being the purple forefingers of January, the rising up of the people of Lebanon and the dominating theme of freedom during the president's Inaugural Address. Less well-recognized but just as important have been the debates and squabbling on the new Iraqi council - none of which ended in arrests, gunshots, or the imposition of martial law.

Israel is still standing and the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein aren't.

No, we aren't "there" yet but so long as we check our maps, oil and tires regularly we will arrive - tired, disheveled and in need of a hot shower - but we will arrive.

Because we must.

Posted by Debbye at 08:43 AM | Comments (4)

May 05, 2005

A tale of two pictures

May 5 - There's a picture in Canada's new War Museum that has stirred some controversy. Peter Worthington writes:

Prominently displayed in the new Canadian War Museum, which opens to the public next week, is a 10-foot painting of a Canadian soldier choking a young and bloodied Somali prisoner with a baton.


Why is this painting in the War Museum?

While the purpose of the new War Museum is not to glorify war, surely its intent isn't to belittle and depict Canadian soldiers as murderers?

Read the whole thing. Peter is admirably restrained in it.

The CBC is also covering the dismay of Veterans groups over the inclusion of the infamous picture and has a response from the artist:

The artist, Gertrude Kearns, said these two paintings deal with the theme of how Canadian soldiers deal with the psychological toll of modern warfare.

She said a committee, which included several veterans, approved her concept.

"These particular works, the ones in the museum, are about conscience. They're also about complexity," said Kearns.

She wants conscience and complexity? If the horrors of Nazi Germany are too simple, she might try this:

GI and dying Iraqi girl 0_22_450_baby.jpg
Michael Yon

Eager to get to and kill U.S. soldiers, Michael Moore's "Minutemen" plowed through a crowd of children who were playing in the street.

They "got to them" all right, and gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "human shields."

Is that "complex" enough?

Amy Bieger, wife of Maj. Mark Bieger (the soldier in the above photo) is interviewed here.

(NY Post and CBC links and photo via Neale News.)

11:59 - Paul has a lot more to say on the Canadian War Museum's choice of pictures and connects this fiasco to the cheapening of the English language.

14:11 From this post by Michelle Malkin I've learned that the photographer, Michael Yon, has a blog and he has a very moving post titled simply Little Girl. His final line on the eager murderers is "Their day will come."

So say we all.

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 AM | Comments (4)

April 22, 2005

Saddam, Martin and Strong

Apr. 22 - Adscam may be the least of Paul Martin's worries. Canada Free Press has uncovered damaging information that ties Martin, Maurice Strong, Tongsun Park, Saddam Hussein, and the U.N. Oil for Food project: Hussein invested one million dollars in Paul Martin-owned Cordex.

The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, canadafreepress.com has discovered.

Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam’s million by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s mentor Maurice Strong’s son Fred Strong, is listed among Martin’s assets to the Federal Ethics committee on November 4, 2003.

Among Martin’s Public Declaration of Declarable Assets are: "The Canada Steamship Lines Group Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"; "Canada Steamship Lines Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"–Cordex Petroleums Inc. (Alberta, Canada) 4.6 percent owned by the CSL Group Inc."

Yesterday, Strong admitted that Tongsun Park, the Korean man accused by U.S. federal authorities of illegally acting as an Iraqi agent, invested in Cordex, the company he owned with his son, in 1997.

In that admission, Strong describes Cordex as a Denver-based company. Cordex Petroleum Inc. is listed among Martin’s assets as an Alberta-based company.Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 PM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2005

Things that keep me awake

Apr. 20 - Over 60 Bodies Found in Iraq.

Story developing.

To think I once fancied myself a pacifist.

20:30: It's bad. Over 50 bodies have been pulled from the Tigris and another 19, believed to be soldiers on leave, were found executed in a stadium in Haditha.

Murdoc has much more.

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 AM | Comments (7)

April 17, 2005

Australian troops head for Iraq

Apr. 17 - PM Howard of Australia told the soldiers departing for Iraq "You go with our support, our prayers and our good wishes for a safe mission and a return home for all of you."

Members of the Al Muthanna Task Group have already begun departing for southern Iraq, with the navy's heavy-lift ship HMAS Tobruk setting sail from Darwin with 200 crew and 20 Australian light armoured vehicles with little fanfare yesterday.

The troops, mainly from Darwin's 1st Brigade, will be deployed by sea and air during the month.

Mr Howard, joined by Defence Minister Robert Hill, and Defence chief General Peter Cosgrove, attended a barbecue to formally farewell the bulk of the troops at Darwin's Robertson Barracks.

Thank you, Mr. Howard, for being a 100% ally.

Apr. 20 - 04:25: The DoD press release is here.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (30)

April 16, 2005

More mass graves in Iraq

Apr. 16 - From yesterday's New York Times, more pieces of a nightmare from which we can never awaken and a mistake for which we can only try to atone: Iraqis Find Graves Thought to Hold Hussein's Victims:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 14 - Investigators have discovered several mass graves in southern Iraq that are believed to contain the bodies of people killed by Saddam Hussein's government, including one estimated to hold 5,000 bodies, Iraqi officials say.


At least 290 grave sites containing the remains of some 300,000 people have been found since the American invasion two years ago, Iraqi officials say.


One of the [newly discovered] graves, near Basra, in the south, appears to contain about 5,000 bodies of Iraqi soldiers who joined a failed uprising against Mr. Hussein's government after the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Another, near Samawa, is believed to contain the bodies of 2,000 members of the Kurdish clad led by Massoud Barzani.

As many as 8,000 men and boys from the clan disappeared in 1983 after being rounded up in northern Iraq by security forces at the command of Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely known as Chemical Ali. It remains unclear, however, how the victims ended up in the south.

Investigators have also discovered the remains of 58 Kuwaitis spread across several sites, including what appears to be a family of two adults and five children who were crushed by a tank, Mr. Amin said. At least 605 Kuwaitis disappeared at the time of the first gulf war, and before the latest graves were discovered, fewer than 200 had been accounted for, he added.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Jalal Talabani chosen as Iraq's intermin president

Apr. 6 - Iraq took another step toward consensual government: the Iraqi Parliament has elected Jalal Talabani as Iraq's Interim President (see BBC profile.)

Two vice-presidents were also elected: a Shiite, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and current interim President Ghazi al-Yawera, a Sunni Arab.

Talabani is to be sworn into office on Thursday.

Aside from electing the prime minister, the president's post is largely ceremonial. Talabani and his two vice presidents — known collectively as the presidential council — are supposed to "represent the sovereignty of Iraq and oversee the higher affairs of the country," according to the interim constitution.


The Kurdish-led coalition in parliament won 75 of the 275 seats in the Jan. 30 elections. Kurds make up 20 percent of the country's 26 million people; Shiites make up 60 percent and the Sunni Arabs are roughly 15 percent to 20 percent.

Human Rights Minister Bakhtiyar Amin told The Associated Press that lawmakers had asked that Saddam and other jailed members of his former government be shown the process.

"There will be televisions there, and they will be seeing it today," he said.

(Sorry, I just had to include that last bit. It makes me grin.)

The Iraq government has a lot of work to do. I see the advantages and disadvantages of living in a country with sharp, distinctive ethnic sensibilities, but the biggest disadvantage might be the ease with which one ethnic group can be made the scapegoats by another ethnic group when something like a corruption scandal erupts. I guess the real test is if they can make common cause to deal with the issues or get distracted with accusations and counter-accusations that don't really touch on the problems.

(I'm channeling a bit, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong!)

Dealing with anti-Iraqi forces will also be a huge, on-going concern. On Tuesday, an Iraqi soldier was beheaded (timing, anyone?) and the video was put up on the internet. Dr. Rusty covers the horror on behalf of all of us who can still be enraged by these atrocities.

Posted by Debbye at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2005

Hope Trumps Despair - 2 years in

Mar. 19 - There have been a series of terrorist attacks in Asia today:

27 Killed in Pakistan Bombing at a Shiite shrine located about 210 miles south of Quetta. Two other bombs went off further south wounding four people.

A car bomb in Beirut wounded nine. Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud said he won't attend an upcoming summit of Arab leaders in Algeria due to security concerns in Lebanon.

A bomb in a Qatar theater killed a Briton and wounded 12.

Five police officers were killed in Iraq.

On Thursday, a bomb killed 5 and wounded 32 in Kandahar. A suspect has been arrested.

Mar. 20 - 00:37 Australian News is reporting that Scotland Yard has issued an alert for a new campaign by "rogue Irish republican groups." /end update

Today in Europe, tens of thousands of people protested the ongoing violence intended to derail Iraq's steps toward consensual government after Iraqi voters defied terrorists and voted in the historic elections there Jan. 30. Oh wait, that's wrong. They were protesting against the war that removed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I think it's important to show that we still care about this," said Linn Majuri, 15, a member of the environmental organization Green Youth, who held a banner reading "Drop Bush, not bombs!"

"People have become apathetic about this, it's no longer something they walk around thinking about every day," she said.

Didn't millions of Iraqis disprove her assertion that "people have become apathetic about this" only last January?

Okay, I'll behave. They were actually protesting non-U.N. sanctioned American action (because the U.N. represents corruption international law, you know) against Iraq, and what they perceive as the unleashing of America's military might.

Silly rabbit, Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in order to avoid unleashing America's full military might. In terms of air power alone, we conducted that war with one arm tied behind our backs.

Sept. 11 represented an escalation of on-going attacks and our counter-attack could have taken many forms (and don't imagine for a minute that there weren't plenty of people agitating for the nuclear option) but the best, albeit most risky, response was to try to avoid the ultimate confrontation by offering the people in the Mid-east a different future: one of hope and realized aspirations. Wicked, huh?

There were small demonstrations in Canada, the largest of about 3,000 being in Montreal. There were also demonstrations in the U.S.A., but, again, they were sparsely attended.

President Bush said

America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women, and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin.

Iraq is a land rich in culture, resources, and talent. Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq's people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time. If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors.

No, wait, that was in October, 2002. His message today was
On this day two years ago, we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm a brutal regime, free its people, and defend the world from a grave danger.

Before coalition forces arrived, Iraq was ruled by a dictatorship that murdered its own citizens, threatened its neighbors, and defied the world. We knew of Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. We knew of his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction, and we know that September the 11th requires our country to think differently. We must, and we will, confront threats to America before they fully materialize.

Now, because we acted, Iraq's government is no longer a threat to the world or its own people. Today the Iraqi people are taking charge of their own destiny. In January, over eight million Iraqis defied the car bombers and assassins to vote in free elections. This week, Iraq's Transitional National Assembly convened for the first time. These elected leaders broadly represent Iraq's people and include more than 85 women. They will now draft a new constitution for a free and democratic Iraq. In October, that document will be presented to the Iraqi people in a national referendum. Another election is planned for December to choose a permanent constitutional government.

Free governments reflect the culture of the citizens they serve, and that is happening in Iraq. Today, Iraqis can take pride in building a government that answers to its people and honors their country's unique heritage.

On the current political landscape in the Mid-east:
Today we're seeing hopeful signs across the broader Middle East. The victory of freedom in Iraq is strengthening a new ally in the war on terror, and inspiring democratic reformers from Beirut to Tehran. Today, women can vote in Afghanistan, Palestinians are breaking the old patterns of violence, and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are rising up to demand their sovereignty and democratic rights. These are landmark events in the history of freedom. Only the fire of liberty can purge the ideologies of murder by offering hope to those who yearn to live free.

The experience of recent years has taught us an important lesson: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. Because of our actions, freedom is taking root in Iraq, and the American people are more secure.

Yes, I know, the new meme is that bringing freedom to the Mid-east would have a domino effect was an afterthought when locating WMD didn't pan out, but if that is so, why has so much bandwidth been used these past two years with arguments over the feasibility of functional consensual governments in Muslim countries?

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2005

Iraqi Assembly Sworn In

Mar. 16 - This is a history day for three reason.

Today marked the anniversary of the 1988 gas attack on Halajba which killed 5,000 people.

Second, Iraqi Assembly Sworn In:

"In the name of God, I swear to carry out my duties and legal responsibilities diligently. I swear to protect the sovereignty of Iraq and the interests of its people and to protects its land and air, its natural resources and its federal democratic system. I also swear to protect public and private liberties and the independence of the judiciary system and to carry out the country's laws, so help me God."
Third, the swearing in ceremony was televised.

(Not historic but nonetheless notable: Iraq forces now number over 14,000.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:44 PM | Comments (2)

March 04, 2005

The Road to Damascus

Mar. 4 - Charles Krauthammer on the cedar revolution in The Road to Damascus

Revolution is in the air. What to do? We are already hearing voices for restraint about liberating Lebanon. Flynt Leverett, your usual Middle East expert, took to the New York Times to oppose the immediate end of Syria's occupation of Lebanon. Instead, we should be trying to "engage and empower" the tyranny in Damascus.

These people never learn. Here we are on the threshold of what Arabs in the region are calling the fall of their own Berlin Wall and our "realists" want us to go back to making deals with dictators. It would be not just a blunder but a tragedy. It would betray our principles. And it would betray the people in Lebanon who have been encouraged by those principles.

I need to sleep, but on behalf of those of us who have to work Friday night, please, please enjoy the opening night of your weekend!

Posted by Debbye at 02:48 PM | Comments (31)

March 02, 2005

Things that horrify, things that really horrify

Mar. 2 - Greyhawk's post begins with the murder of a judge in Iraq assigned to Saddam's trial. Then he takes a brief look at Ramsey Clark's posturing about joining Saddam's defense team.

And then what the sands reveal about Saddam's crimes.

"Rush to war" indeed.

Mar 3 - Welcome Mudville Gazette readers! I almost wish this post was longer, but the first comment under this post actually says it all and far better than any elaboration I could have added.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 PM | Comments (2)

Ya mean that was the plan all along?

Mar. 2 - Sorry, the site went down for awhile.

It all seemed very simple. The Iraqi elections, despite the nay-sayers, were held. As promised. When they were promised. The Iraqis -voters and security personnel -did the rest.

A columnist with a Chicago paper wrote that maybe he'd have to admit that Bush was right all along.

And then the Lebanese people responded to the murder of Rafik Hariri with peaceful solidarity and determination. Those of who who understood and supported the aim of bringing consensual government and respect for human rights to the Mid-east applauded them.

Thomas Friedman wrote a column, and the NY Times wrote an editorial.

But now the rush onto the bandwagon is downright getting out of hand. (Ace is calling it a stampede.) Respected liberals are admitting that Iraq was a good place to start. Others are even going so far as to admit that maybe Bush was right. Even the BBC and Arab media is beginning to catch on.

But then there are others, and Jon Stewart is messing with a guest and suggesting that nobody knew that Operation Iraqi Freedom was all about bringing democracy to the Mid-east! It was a secret! It was a secret plan hatched by Karl Rove and nobody knew (except for the millions of Americans who voted for Bush - they knew!)

18:30: Ace has been on a roll keeping up with all this, and he's got a round-up of his "stampede" posts here. (Of course he would do that after I've been patiently linking every time a new post popped up on his site and me doing all that hard work.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:48 PM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2005

Mark Steyn

Mar. 1 - New column up at the Telegraph (UK) by Mark Steyn, The Arabs' Berlin Wall has crumbled, in which he looks at the rapid shifts in policies in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the displeasure of Palestinians over the latest terrorist attack in Israel and asks:

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."

... In the space of a month, the Iraq election has become the prism through which all other events in the region are seen.

No, I can't condense Steyn. Just read it.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (15)

2,000 Iraqis say "No" to terrorism

Mar. 1 - One reaction to the car bomb in Hillah that killed over 125 and wounded nearly 150:

More than 2,000 people demonstrated Tuesday at the site of a car bombing south of Baghdad that killed 125 people, chanting "No to terrorism!"


The Internet statement by al-Qaida in Iraq said that the attack targeted a registration center for Iraqi police and National Guardsmen. It made no mention of the medical clinic or a nearby market where a number of people were also killed.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the statement, which was posted on the Web site that has previously carried al-Qaida material. The statement was also posted under the name of Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the designated media coordinator of al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

More than 2,000 people held the impromptu demonstration on front of the clinic, chanting "No to terrorism!" and "No to Baathism and Wahhabism!"

Wahhabism is a reference to adherents of the strict form of Sunni Islam preached by Osama bin Laden, while the Baath party was the political organization that ran Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

The demonstrators also demanded that interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi step down.

Police prevented people from parking cars in front of the clinic or the hospital, where authorities blocked hospital gates with barbed wire to stave off hundreds of victims' relatives desperate for information on loved ones.

Provincial Gov. Walid al-Janabi said no funeral procession would be held in Hillah due to "security reasons." He did not elaborate, but police said they feared new attacks. (Bolding added)
From AP

Posted by Debbye at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

Iraqi voters deserve Nobel Peace Prize

Mar. 1 - Peter Worthington supports an idea raised by Daniel Henninger of the WSJ that the Iraqi voters deserve Nobel Peace Prize:

As Henninger notes, the voters demonstrated "in a single day a commitment not seen in our lifetime to peace, self-determination and human rights -- the goals for which the Nobel Peace Prize began in 1901."
I need to get some sleep. More later.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 AM | Comments (13)

February 28, 2005

Saddam's brother arrested in Syria

Feb. 28 - This could be titled "Look what we found" as Syria tries to placate Iraq and the USA with the capture of Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan (Syria captures Saddam's brother) by suddenly locating someone on the "Wanted" list:

Iraqi officials yesterday said Syria had captured and handed over Saddam Hussein's half brother, a most-wanted leader in the Sunni-based insurgency.

The action was described by Iraqi authorities as a goodwill gesture by Damascus, but it followed months of Syrian denials that fugitives from the ousted Saddam regime were hiding on their territory.

Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who shared a mother with Saddam, was nabbed with 29 other fugitive members of the former dictator's Ba'ath Party in Hasakah in northeastern Syria, 30 miles from the Iraqi border, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The U.S. military in Iraq had no immediate comment.

What could the U.S. military possibly say? You mean he was in Syria all this time? Who knew?

Posted by Debbye at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

Mass murder in Iraq

Feb. 28 - True, somewhat grim title but I feel an anger at the pit of my stomach that has no words over this latest outrage (Car Bomb Kills at Least 115 in Iraq.)

I realize that the death cultists have little recourse but to murder and spread mayhem; after all, what else to they have to offer? On my better days I try to pity them for their failure to embrace the gift of life, but most days I just hate them.

FoxNews reports (at least on the televised coverage) that those present worked together to load the wounded onto ambulances and gather body parts of the dead. It's some comfort to see that solidarity and humanity in the middle of the wreckage, and not a day goes by that I don't see new reasons to respect the courage of those trying to build a new nation.

Courage. What a small, pitiful word for such a breathtaking concept.

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2005

Iraqi Confidence

Feb. 23 - Despite the murders, bombs and kidnappings, Iraqi men keep enlisting in the security forces (Iraqi police defy danger.)

"The danger is everywhere, but to serve your country is much better than to be afraid and do nothing"
Courageous words with which a nation is being built.

Posted by Debbye at 08:16 PM | Comments (1)

February 20, 2005

Fallujah - The Movie

Feb. 20 - This 6+ minutes film is worth watching: ARMOR GEDDON: Fallujah THE Movie.

There's a bit of tech involved, so I recommend reading this if the word Torrent in compu-speak means little to nothing to you.

(Via One Hand Clapping)

Posted by Debbye at 08:28 PM | Comments (1)

Possible action in Ramadi

Feb. 20 - From an Australian news agency, Marines aim to secure city of Ramadi:

US and Iraqi troops launched a large-scale operation around the rebellious city of Ramadi today, as part of a nationwide effort to restore order in the wake of last month's election.

Troops from the 1st Marine expeditionary force, supported by Iraqi soldiers, set up a ring of checkpoints around the city, 110km west of Baghdad, and imposed an 8pm to 6am curfew under Operation River Blitz.


It was not clear if today's operation was a prelude to a larger offensive on Ramadi, which has essentially been in guerrilla hands for most of the past year.

Designated River Blitz, the offensive seems in part to be a response to the attacks on Shiite mosques during Ashura observances.

CNN reports the arrests of some persons including one linked to Zarqawi:

Iraqi police arrested Haidar Mulaqatah during a raid in the Maffaraq area of western Baquba, about 30 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province. The area has been a frequent site for insurgent attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi security forces.

Police said they also found weapons, including mortars, and equipment used to make counterfeit identification during the raid.

In another raid near Mosul on Saturday, Iraqi security forces captured another suspected insurgent.

Harbi Abdul Khudier Hammudi, who served as a colonel in the old Iraqi air force, is a leader of the Salafist Jihadist terrorist group and is believed to have been involved in several attacks against coalition forces, including the bombing of an Iraqi national guard convoy last year, police said.

And so it continues.

Feb. 21: Canoe News reports

The new operation was under way in several other Euphrates River cities in Anbar, including Heet, Baghdadi, Hadithah and the provincial capital Ramadi, the military said. Hadithah residents reported parts of the city were bombarded by coalition aircraft overnight. There was no word on casualties.

Posted by Debbye at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

Ashura 2005

Feb. 18 - Religious observances of Ashura in Iraq were again attacked by terrorists leaving at least 27 dead in Iraq blasts. By all accounts, security and police performed well and their efforts - some at the cost of their own lives - reduced the potential death toll of civilians.

I remember the shock of the Ashura terrorist attacks last year only too well. We held our breath, grieved for the dead and wounded, and wondered if a match had been lit. But there was then hope: a march in which Shi'ite and Sunni clerics disavowed sectarian strife:

In an attempt to play down sectarian divisions, Shi'ite Muslim clerics and Sunni preachers led thousands in a march from a Shi'ite suburb in eastern Baghdad to the Kazimiya district where the bombings in the capital occurred.

"We and our Sunni countrymen are, have been and always will be brothers," said Shi'ite preacher Amer al-Hussein, a senior aide to firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an outspoken opponent of the U.S.-led occupation.

Members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council also stressed the need for unity between Shi'ites and Sunnis.

"It was a crime directed not only against Shi'ites, or Islam, but against humanity," said Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a prominent Shi'ite council member. "Anyone who kills a Sunni is against the spirit of Shi'ism. And anyone who kills a Shi'ite is against the spirit of Sunnism," he said.
I continue to be impressed by the will and resilience of the Iraqi people. They are truly amazing.

Feb. 21: The current death toll has risen to 50 dead in 8 attacks. How incredibly sad.

Posted by Debbye at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2005

Reprisals in Iraq

Feb. 6 - This story (Policeman who tackled bomber is election hero) begins with the funeral and story of an heroic Iraqi policeman but concludes with some accounts of reprisals against Iraqi voters including the violent removal of purple-stained fingers.

One need only examine their deeds to reconsider the label "insurgent" and replace it with "cowardly bastard" or what may be closer to the mark: counter-revolutionary.

Posted by Debbye at 11:40 AM | Comments (1)

February 02, 2005

Meet our demands or the toy gets it!

Feb. 2 - So-called U.S. hostage appears to be toy. Is it possible that these would-be terrorists have a sense of humour? I can't help thinking that, on some level, that prospect contains a grain of hope.

15:55: Ace is also covering the story. Be sure and read the comments!

16:23 From Best of the Web Today, Douglas Kern at Tech Central reports that it was The Slinky who betrayed Cody and led him into the ambush where they encountered (shudder) Eeeevil Bert.

I really meant to do some serious posting today, but between Toy Story and coping with the "comments" left by spambots I'm tapped out. (Die, You Worthless Parasites, Die!) More tomorrow.

20:14: Looks like the poker site dude wasted Nicholas's day also.

20:55: My oh my, the spammers have been busy. Wish I had thought of issuing this.

Posted by Debbye at 07:00 AM | Comments (2)

February 01, 2005

A Reluctant Warrior

Feb. 1 - I meant to cruise around blogs a bit (I'm shamefully behind on my reading) but I stumbled over something that I think readers will enjoy: Revising History is easy from Blather Review.

Guaranteed to bolster the faltering heart, this thoughtful essay calls on us "to reclaim the very human nature of moral clarity from the circular doubt of a cynical academic approach."

I wish I had said that!

Posted by Debbye at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)

Mark Steyn

Feb. 1 - Mark Steyn comments on the recent elections in Iraq, a demonstration in Spain which protested those elections and makes other trenchant observations in his Telegraph (UK) column Iraq is now the home of the brave - and soon the free. He draws a brilliant picture of one of the many ways ripples of freedom spread:

... The most fascinating detail in the big picture was this: Iraqi expats weren't voting just in Sydney and London and Los Angeles, but also in Syria. Think about that. If you're an Iraqi in Syria, you can vote for the political party of your choice. If you're a Syrian in Syria, you have no choice at all. Which of those arrangements is the one with a future?
Want more Steyn? He officially announces the addition of election fiasco in Iraq to "post-9/11 Western media fictions" alongside the brutal Afghan winters, seething Arab street, etc., in his column The 'civil war' that wasn't in The Australian (latter link via Tim Blair.)

10:40: Hmm. Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, so I suggest that all reflexively anti-American negativists and nay-sayers look for their shadows tomorrow and if they don't see a civil war and if we haven't begun construction of an oil pipeline across Afghanistan and if we aren't stealing Iraqi oil then they'll just shut up for the next 6 weeks!

Bonus points if they just stay in their holes for the next 6 weeks.

Posted by Debbye at 08:00 AM | Comments (2)

January 31, 2005

Let Freedom Ring!

Jan. 31 - Greetings to anyone who is still checking this blog to see if I've got any new ramblings besides my folks!

The Washington Times headline says it best: Joy explodes across Iraq. And I think a lot of us shared in that joy.

I watched the coverage of the Iraq elections from 2 a.m. Sunday morning until 6 p.m. Sunday evening -- I just couldn't turn FoxNews (heh!) off. Although I wanted to post I was just too overcome by my feelings of humility and thanksgiving. I feel so privileged to be a witness to the courage and determination of the Iraqi people, and more than a little embarrassed because I noted that they were voting in numbers that rival our percentages in tranquil times and I really don't know how we might perform if faced with similar threats of mayhem from people who have a track record of carrying out those threats.

I guess the Iraqi people didn't get that memo about the incompatibility of civil liberties, democracy, Arabs, tribal cultures and Islam, because they certainly exercised their franchise without noticing that it isn't supposed to be in their cultural makeup.

Among those celebrating -- and rightfully so -- are the members of the Iraq Naitonal Guard and Army. I guess they did get the memo about having confidence because they did a spectacular job and are the heroes of Iraq. I was saddened by the reports of those who lost their lives proving themselves to be be true human shields.

I can't even imagine how gratified the men and women of the armed forces serving in Iraq (and those who served and have returned stateside) must feel today. I guess it's at minimum a tangible reassurance that we are on the right path and at maximum that the sacrifices have not been in vain, and perhaps more that any debt the Iraqis may owe us has been paid in full.

Quick detour: I stumbled across FoxNews on Rogers Cable up here in mid-December (which proves that channel surfing is good!) and, although I really, really miss the faint tone of disapproval that permeates far too many CNN reports, I think I'll stick with Fox as my major TV news source for all things American and Iraqi.

I do miss another thing about CNN: I used to yell out some fairly brilliant and insightful things during their news broadcasts because their analysis was so superficial, but Fox seems to have all the context bases covered and I am thus defused. I guess the result is a calmer Debbye, but never fear: the Rant Factor has not left the household because Mark is a dedicated O'Reilly Factor fan. He doesn't miss a single night and when I hear him yell Because they're a bunch of snively whiney rat bastards I know that a) O'Reilly is reporting on something a liberal said and, b) it's past eight and I have to get up to go to work.

I am extremely comfortable with this role reversal. Let someone else get steamed about the John Kerrys and Ted Kennedys (Mark made some really terrific shots about Teddy's wanting to cut and run from Iraq - the mildest was Yeah, Ted, stick with what you know best.

Okay, I lied. I shot out of my chair yesterday when I heard John Kerry's (I won't even use the title of Senator this day) comments on the wonderful election turnout in Iraq. He would have conceded to international opinion and postponed (read cancelled) those elections, and I'm not up on my Dante but I'm pretty sure one of those circles of hell is his destination. Isn't the presidential campaign over? Can't Kerry finally shut up? Americans have been happy to ignore him for over 30 years. Can't we return to normalcy?

The same nagging about the need to bring the international community together? On exactly what basis would he have us come together anyway?

When it came time to be counted, Americans remember who came forward and who lagged in the rear, and we may be a forgiving nation but we aren't a forgetful nation. We are already brought together on those things in which they are willing to participate, i.e., protecting their nations from internal threats, and thus apprehending those in their nations who may pose a threat to our and other nations, and those efforts are appreciated but not misinterpreted -- they are only capable of taking a short view of history, and we need to take a long view. Let's not mistake enlightenment for anaemia and just agree to accept the help from each nation in accorance with what they are willing to offer.

Taking the fight to the enemy takes a special kind of steel, and we thankfully have real allies who can see the danger of mistaking the Ardennes Forest for the trees.

Okay, cheap shot aside, the international community does seem to be brought together somewhat in their reaction to yesterday's elections. Jacques Freakin' Chirac was more upbeat than John Kerry, for crying out loud. This day it's Kerry and Kennedy who are out of step if only because others are realists and cannot deny the immense and irrevocable nature of yesterday's vote in Iraq.

I was further incensed that Kerry should make his comments on the very day that our staunchest allies suffered severe and painful losses. An Australian serving with the RAF, Flt-Lt Paul Pardoel and up to ten British airmen were killed when the Hercules C-130 came down in Iraq, yet he couldn't stop fretting about disapproval from those who oppose us long enough to acknowledge the loss, express his condolences and thank our allies for their sacrifice. What a graceless man.

Sigh. It's becoming very hard for me to keep in mind how totally we defied expectations after Sept. 11. (Maybe because it's been over 3 years and they should have figured it out by now.) Those who don't know us might be forgiven for having assumed that we would react as they would: become consumed with negativity and turn that into cynical passivity, or turn into murderous mobs intent on extracting revenge on the innocent and guilty alike. Instead we looked at those oft-recited root causes and recognized that maybe we could realistically address one of them and chose to take an enormous gamble and offer the twin values of tolerance and government by consent of the governed (necessarily twinned because you can't have one without the other.)

We've stated our aims countless times, and shown the truth of our words by our deeds. Stop looking for what isn't there and deal with what is visible. Maybe then we can talk and the international community can be brought together by a new practice: honesty.

Yesterday's elections were only the first step (like you haven't read and heard that elsewhere!) but that is hardly the point. What is significant is that the first step was taken, and I heartily wish the Iraqis and all those who yearn for freedom to take heart and keep their eyes on the prize. The socialists have one thing right: you have nothing to lose but your chains.

Posted by Debbye at 07:07 AM | Comments (3)

December 01, 2004

A different message for Bush

Dec. 1 - Among the many protesters of yesterday, Ottawa Sun columnist Earl McRae found one with a different message:

John Al-Hassani is Canadian, too. He's 48. He drove to Ottawa from Oshawa where he's an engineer. He stands on the fringe. His sign says: "Support President Bush."

"I came to this country from Iraq," he shouts in staccato bursts. "I have family there. I talk to them all the time. Look at these fools. They have no idea. They are idiots. They are simple babies. The majority of Iraqis are glad Bush liberated them from Saddam Hussein. But, you don't see that on TV, only the terrorist gangsters blowing people up. They don't speak for the people of Iraq.

Good read.

Posted by Debbye at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

Black Watch in "Triangle of Death"

Nov. 23 - A report in today's Telegraph (UK) on British troops in Iraq which have blocked escape routes out of Fallujah:

Hundreds of Iraqi insurgents are trapped inside the "Triangle of Death" following the American assault on Fallujah and the blocking of key escape routes by the Black Watch, according to a British military intelligence officer.

He said a "hornet's nest" of insurgents had been stirred by the arrival of the Black Watch and the Queen's Dragoon Guards three weeks ago.

"British troops and US forces have sealed off the insurgents' escape routes and they have nowhere to go," he said. "They are fixed in that area and they are angry.


The Black Watch base has been hit by rockets and mortars almost every day since the troops arrived. Four British soldiers have been killed and 14 injured. There have been no casualties in the past two weeks, however, and this has led to a growing feeling that the Black Watch is gaining control in a key area.

There are 850 troops at Camp Dogwood, including 550 Black Watch, 105 Queen's Dragoon Guards, a small unit of Marines, plus Engineers and Signals.

There are other Brits in Iraq as well, including the two who were arrested after a gunfight with men guarding the home of the Iraqi Minister of the Interior, Falah al-Naqib.

They have been turned over to the British embassy in Baghdad.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

The true Iraqi warriors

Nov. 22 - An assessment of the willingness of Iraqi soldiers to fight for their country is in today's Washington Times in Iraqi forces stick to their guns in battle. Room for improvement? Always. Stronger hope for the future of Iraqi? Absolutely.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Death in Fallujah

Nov. 22 - U.S. officials in Iraq believe they may have found the Kenneth Bigley death site in Fallujah:

Details of the house match videos Bigley appeared in during his captivity, including writing on the walls and being held in a chicken-wire cage.

The house also contained shackles and handcuffs.

Based on the evidence, "U.S. intelligence experts believe it is the house, but are not 100 percent sure," Arraf reported.

The Islamic militant group Unification and Jihad claimed to have kidnapped the men. It claims allegiance to terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al Qaeda.

The discovery of these houses (estimated to be as many as twenty) is almost too horrible to contemplate, and although their connection to Westerners who were held captive and beheaded is well-known what is overlooked is the number of Iraqis who were also caged and beheaded as well as the brutalization of the residents of Fallujah under the rule of the anti-Iraqi forces.

Some of these stories defy our current Western notions about the world, which may be why there is an attempt to romanticize those who held sway in Fallujah and to compare them to Minutemen, but that is naive at best and criminal at worst.

Iraqpundit lays it out squarely in the post Cunning, Resolute, and Tenacious?:

America's agenda-setting press has been quite impressed by the thugs who have been targeting, kidnapping, and murdering defenseless Iraqi civilians. A front-page headline out of Iraq in Friday's New York Times, for example, reads, "Showing Their Resolve, Rebels Mount Attacks in Northern and Central Iraq."

Got that? These murderers have been demonstrating "resolve." Indeed, throughout the battle of Fallujah and in the battles that have followed, American journalists have discovered many impressive attributes in these criminals. According to a week of major-press stories, the "insurgents" are a cunning and courageous band who have been putting up a tenacious struggle.

Here's an alternative headline the Times' staff might have considered: "Showing Their Resolve, Rebels Terrorize Families, Target Children, Disembowel Women, Behead the Elderly."

Iraqpundit cites this London Times as a "reality check" for those who claim to worry about innocent lives yet who would allow those "rebels" of Fallujah free rein to wreak their perverted "resolve" on the residents of Fallujah.

(Iraqpundit link via Instapundit)

Posted by Debbye at 06:27 AM | Comments (0)

Salim Mansur

Nov. 22 - Salim Mansur has another column in which his gift of restoring order to the tumult of individual news stories and thus providing a focus proves invaluable. In A scandal even bigger than (lack of) WMD he pulls together the threads in Dr. Mahdi Obeidi's book The Bomb in My Garden, the Duelfer Report, the Oil-for-Food scandal, Rwanda, the pre-war bickering in the U.N. Security Council and "inverse proportion of rage":

From the killing fields of Rwanda to the killing fields of Iraq, the UN was not an innocent bystander, and Kofi Annan, the man who runs it, has much to answer for.

The great irony in all of this is the inverse proportion of rage against America's liberation of Iraq by non-Iraqi Arabs and Muslims and the Michael Moore crowd in the West, to the rage of Iraqis, as Obeidi narrates, against those who kissed and danced with the devil incarnate in Baghdad.

Reflexive reverence for the U.N. and automatic dismissal of anything said by U.S. officials may be responsible for more deaths than otherwise humane people can stomach.

Posted by Debbye at 03:59 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

The legacy of Arafat

Nov. 11 - The news is all about Yassar Arafat and the departure of the helicopter carrying his remains, but I find this more indicative of Arafat's legacy: Troops find captive chained to wall in Iraq.

11:15: Australian PM Howard's candour is refreshing: "History will judge [Araftat] very harshly for not having seized the opportunity in the year 2000 to embrace the offer that was very courageously made by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barack, which involved the Israelis agreeing to 90 per cent of what the Palestinians had wanted." (link via Daimnation.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2004

From the ground in Iraq

Nov. 10 - Mudville Gazette is back up and even though Greyhawk says The Forecast calls for Fog (of War) he cuts through some of that fog decisively with reports on the kind of "insurgent" attacks on Iraqi civilians that go unreported in our own news media and scores a direct hit on Kofi Annan's interference and posturing (with more on that here, including a report from the NY Times that the registration of voters in Iraq is ahead of schedule. Take that, Kofi.)

Fox reports that 70% of Fallujah is under control, and the discovery of a hostage slaughterhouse in combination with the abduction of two members of President Allawi's family and Greyhawks report should suffice to remind us (and Annan) that taking Fallujah and tracking down those who escaped will do more to protect innocent Iraqis than Kofi's pious sentiments.

Tomorrow is Veterans down south of the border and Remembrance Day up here. Is it so much to ask that at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that people stand at attention and pay honour to the millions of brave men and women who made the struggle for freedom their personal responsibilities? I don't think so.

Nov. 11 - Timbre reminded me that Nov. 10 is the 229th birthday of the US Marine Corp. Semper fi!

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 PM | Comments (1)

November 09, 2004

Fallujah Update (and bumped)

Nov. 9 - From David Frum:

For days before the U.S. election, Marines and Iraqi troops massed around the city of Fallujah. As the voters arrived at the booths, they knew that their ballots would determine the whole future course of the war in Iraq. With everything at stake, they cast those ballots for George Bush.

Now the battle has begun. What is to come we cannot know. But we can know this: Fully aware of the stakes, American voters massively rejected the candidate who promised to put an end to battles like Fallujah--and massively voted in the candidate who pledged to do whatever was necessary to win these battles.

It is a hard thing to read of casualties and know them to have been in obedience to our wishes. We owe it to them to stay the course and give meaning to their sacrifice. Godspeed to our troops and Allah bless their Iraqi comrades.

For analysis and insights read Belmont Club (read this, this and this sheesh he's fast and, this latest.)

The contributors at The Command Post comb the internet and get information online faster than CNN. Go to their Iraq page and check back often for updates on Fallujah as well as the rest of Iraq.

I just can't take any more of CNN. Is it just me, or is it as plain as daylight that for the Iraqi army to work with us to take Fallujah is in many significant ways more important for them than for us? CNN's main talking point continues to be that having the Iraqi army fight is part of our exit strategy, which overlooks the rather obvious fact that the Iraqi army is taking responsibility for the future stability of Iraq on behalf of and for the Iraqi people and, if you will, this is a major part of their entrance strategy as a sovereign nation.

Is it me, or are the people at CNN racists? They simply refuse to give the Iraqis the respect they have so completely earned.

I really hate don't like CNN.

12:36: Instapundit recommends this war coverage media viewing guide. (What liberal media?)

Murdoc recommends The Fourth Rail, and rightly so. (Murdoc is always right.) I recommend Murdoc's post here (I'm a sucker for aerial shots.)

Chester is doing live-blogging over there, and ACE is reading between the lines of the news and profiles the new Pumpkin-Hurler, but I haven't been able to get Greyhawk since last night.

15:05: Spot on from Lileks:

This is one of the big battles of the Iraq campaign; this is where the loop that began in Somalia is closed and welded shut.
Remember those who serve in our names.

Posted by Debbye at 03:05 PM | Comments (3)

Chrenkoff's Good News from Iraq

Nov. 9 - Many good features in this Arthur Chrenkoff article, including a look at how the flourishing Iraqi news media is reporting on and encouraging participation in the upcoming elections, procedures for registering voters for the January 27 elections, and a poll on how the Iraqis view the terrorism and "insurgents."

Who could have envisioned such events only four short years ago?

I think it proper to reflect that Iraqis and Americans alike know fully for what their and our brave men and women are fighting in Fallujah.

Posted by Debbye at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2004

Election and Good Advice

Nov. 2 - I predict that a lot of you won't get much more sleep tonight than I did today and that, whatever the outcome, we will survive.

I feel a sense of relief that it's over, and both sides know they have done their best. [Update Nov. 3: I spoke too soon! It isn't over yet ...] It will be interesting to see if there are any observable after-effects of the unprecedented voter turnout and renewed political activism of so many citizens.

Greyhawk is giving some Free Advice, which I think is one of his finest pieces yet.

Until tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 07:58 PM | Comments (3)

October 30, 2004

Transcript of Osama tape

Oct. 30 - I still haven't seen the tape (and am unlikely to, as I'd have to, like, tune on CNN and pay attention in order to view the tape ... yeech!) but the Fox website has what appear to be most of the words and Matt Druge has the transcript.

Is he actually suing for peace? I think we've gone way, way beyond that, although it will please those who are openly in favour of appeasement.

So long, Osama. Nice to hear from you again, but we're a bit busy these days hunting down your friends and dispatching them to the lower regions of Hell.

If you let us know where you can be reached, we'll drop a daisy cutter by for tea someday.

11:23: Some different views on the tape from Wretchard (who says "Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out,") Beldar (who believes he is making "an invitation to Pres. Kerry to negotiate a truce,") Donald Sensing calls it a "yawner" and notes "the tape is the best al Qaeda can do. A videotape is their pre-election surprise" and although he cautions against letting our guard down thinks "... the new OBL tape should encourage us that we are winning. Before 9/11, bin Laden acted, not blustered. Now bluster is about all he's got against America, though al Qaeda sadly still kills abroad." Roger Simon reluctantly admits OBL seems alive, and links to a commenter with more than the usual credentials who makes some interesting observations that suggest OBL really is dead (a must read!)

It struck me that OBL is suing for a separate peace. That would mean that, having initiated and take the leadership in the war on terror, we could just abandon it and save our skins, but what of our allies? What of Iraq?

Another thing: he focuses solely on the Mideast, but doesn't mention other hot spots, such as Indonesia. Australia has her own just grievances against OBL, but unless something has occurred in the past few hours, a similar offer hasn't been made to her or any of our other allies (the real ones, I mean, not the "traditional" ones, as an offer was allegedly made to France in exchange for rescinding the headdress ban.)

There have been a variety of opinions as to whether this helps President Bush or Senator Kerry, and we should see a lot of spin from the media and their trained seals experts as to which. As though we haven't already had plenty of that in the course of this campaign.

To more important matters: it appears the assault on Fallujah is underway, and eight good Marines have died.

Semper fi.

Oct. 31 - 18:01 - I'm wrong about the campaign in Fallujah. Iraqi interim Prime Minister Allawai is warning that patience is wearing thin:

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's warning, delivered in a nationally televised news conference, occurred as U.S. forces prepare for a showdown with thousands of militants holed up in Fallujah - the city that has become the focal point of armed resistance to the Americans and their Iraqi allies.

Allawi appeared to be aiming to prepare the Iraqi public for an onslaught likely to unleash strong passions, especially among the country's Sunni Muslim minority.


U.S. officials say Allawi will personally issue the final order to launch any all-out assault on Fallujah and other Sunni insurgent strongholds north and west of the capital.

Allawi gave no deadline for talks with Fallujah city leaders to bear fruit, but he insisted they must hand over foreign fighters and allow Iraqi security forces to take control of the city.

"We have now entered the final phase of attempts to solve Fallujah without a major military confrontation. I hope we can achieve this, but if we cannot, I have no choice but to secure a military solution," he added.

It's easy for me to sit over here and wish for faster action, but Allawi has to think of Iraq's future and the difficult task of knitting together the different factions to create a strong, unified country.

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 AM | Comments (4)

October 29, 2004

What is in those boxes?

Oct. 29 - The issue from beginning of this story was when did they go missing.

A news video might be of the missing explosives or they might show another explosive material classified 1.1D.. (I didn't see ABC News last night so can't comment to the video shown in that broadcast, but Deacon at Power Line says its useless.)

By the way, Fox has the IAEA report of January 14, 2003, online here in .pdf form for anyone who is interested (it's about 11 pages long in Adobe Acrobat.)

CNN has what may be the best description of the affair: Two more bits of possible evidence have surfaced in the mystery of the missing Iraqi explosives, but they appear to bolster two different scenarios as to what may have happened to the cache.

Maj. Austin Pearson with the 3rd ID has stated that they removed and destroyed about 250 tons of explosives from Al Qaqaa in April, 2003 but doesn't know if they were the ones said to be under IAEA seal.

I turned CNN on in time to hear commentators express incredulity that the Pentagon cannot yet state which explosives were destroyed by the 3rd ID, which reinforces the fact that none of them have ever served in the armed forces. Sen. Kerry is pounding the same theme, though, which is odd because we all know that he did serve so he should know fully that backtracking events in the military is laborious and time-consuming. They don't call it "the army way" for nothing.

The stickers said to be on the boxes in the video released by ABC evidently are of a substance that is mixed with water (or did ABC use stock footage of boxes that were not at Al Qaqaa?) I've had some small experience with Hazmat designation numbers up here in Canada, and all I know for sure is that the classification numbers are intended to tell emergency crews what they are dealing with - corrosives, explosives, etc. - rather than identify any specific substance. If I'm following this correctly, the IAEA numbers have the same degree of specificity.

But now the debate has shifted over to things that make my eyes glaze over as the last chemistry class I took was long ago.

Wretchard does his best to clarify matters for even a science-challenged person like me here and looks at the possible content of those boxes here.

Sometimes one just has to rely on their common sense. Power Line notes drily "I'm not sure how you would "specifically search for" seven hundred fifty-four thousand pounds of explosives, but somehow, I suspect that if you saw them, you'd notice." The supposition that two different military units failed to notice that many boxes under IAEA seal just doesn't hold water.

Posted by Debbye at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

A woman of courage

Oct. 29 - Be sure and read Humalia Akrawy: An Iraqi Woman Speaks Out.

I tried to excerpt it to give you a taste of how passionately the post vibrates with her love of freedom, and couldn't. You will have to read it for yourself.

(Link via One Hand Clapping.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2004

Those missing explosives III

Oct. 28 - This is going to be one of those crescendo posts, so if you're in a hurry, skip to the last two links.

The NY Times reports today that President Bush responded to the charge that US forces were negligent and allowed 380 tons of explosives to fall into terrorist hands:

"Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site," Mr. Bush told thousands of Republicans at an airport rally in Lancaster County, Pa., his first stop of a day that took him through three states.

"This investigation is important and it's ongoing," he said, "and a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief."

The exact timing of the disappearance of the explosives is critical to the political arguments of each campaign. Mr. Kerry's contention that the administration did not adequately secure the country and was unprepared for the war's aftermath presumes that the explosives disappeared after the fall of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003, as officials of the interim Iraqi government say.

If the explosives disappeared before Mr. Hussein fell, as Mr. Bush now says is possible, that would undercut Mr. Kerry's argument and bolster Mr. Bush's contention that his opponent is making charges without all the facts.


The last time that international inspectors saw the explosives was in early March 2003, days before the American-led invasion. It is possible, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency say, that Saddam Hussein's forces may have tried to move the material out of the 10 huge bunkers at the Al Qaqaa facility where it was stored to save it if the facility was bombed.

If so, that would partly support Mr. Bush's contention that the Iraqis could have moved 380 tons of material very far without being detected.

But Mr. Bush on Thursday did not address a critical issue raised by the discovery of the missed explosives: why American forces were not alerted to the existence of a huge cache of explosives, even though the atomic energy agency and American officials had publicly discussed the threat it posed, and knew its exact location.

The commander of the troops that went into the Al Qaqaa facility on the way to Baghdad in early April, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, has said he was never told the site was considered sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited it before the war began.

I'm not necessarily knocking the Times, but if I'm following this story properly, what the inspectors saw in early March were seals, not explosives, and they only verified that the seals had not been broken. A small detail, but one which may be significant.

Another article in the NYT, 4 Iraqis Tell of Looting at Munitions Site in "03, revisits the looting (perhaps because it's the only leg this story has left to it?) and still can't answer when the explosives went missing:

Agency [IAEA] officials examined the explosives in January 2003 and noted in early March that their seals were still in place. On April 3, the Third Infantry Division arrived with the first American troops.

Chris Anderson, a photographer for U.S. News and World Report who was with the division's Second Brigade, recalled that the area was jammed with American armor on April 3 and 4, which he believed made the removal of the explosives unlikely. "It would be quite improbable for this amount of weapons to be looted at that time because of the traffic jam of armor," he said.

The brigade blew up numerous caches of arms throughout the area, he said. Mr. Anderson said he did not enter the munitions compound.

The Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division arrived outside the site on April 10, under the command of Col. Joseph Anderson. The brigade had been ordered to move quickly to Baghdad because of civil disorder there after Mr. Hussein's government fell on April 9.

They gathered at Al Qaqaa, about 30 miles south, simply as a matter of convenience, Colonel Anderson said in an interview this week. He said that when he arrived at the site - unaware of its significance - he saw no signs of looting, but was not paying close attention.

Because he thought the brigade would be moving on to Baghdad within hours, Al Qaqaa was of no importance to his mission, he said, and he was unaware of the explosives that international inspectors said were hidden inside.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday that analysts were examining surveillance photographs of the munitions site. But they expressed doubts that the photographs, which showed vehicles at the location on several occasions early in the conflict, before American troops moved through the area, would be able to indicate conclusively when the explosives were removed.

Col. David Perkins, who commanded the Second Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, called it "very highly improbable" that 380 tons of explosives could have been trucked out of Al Qaqaa in the weeks after American troops arrived.

Moving that much material, said Colonel Perkins, who spoke Wednesday to news agencies and cable television, "would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as U.S. combat divisions occupied continually for weeks."

He conceded that some looting of the site had taken place. But a chemical engineer who worked at Al Qaqaa and identified himself only as Khalid said that once troops left the base itself, people streamed in to steal computers and anything else of value from the offices. They also took munitions like artillery shells, he said.

Mr. Mezher, the mechanic, said it took the looters about two weeks to disassemble heavy machinery at the site and carry that off after the smaller items were gone. [Emphasis added.]

Again with examining the explosives and determining the seals were still in place, which is be a contradiction.

What the NY Times story doesn't tell you is that there was a major battle in the area before the 3 ID entered the facility on April 3.

[Army Col. David] Perkins commanded 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division. A unit under his command, the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, entered the depot on April 3, 2003, and defeated the enemy forces there in a two-day battle.


Perkins, now assigned to the Joint Staff, said it is "highly improbable" that the enemy was able to take the explosives out any time after U.S. forces arrived in the area. It would require "that the enemy sneaks a convoy of 10-ton trucks in and loads them up in the dark of night and infiltrates them in your convoy and moves out," he said. "That's kind of a stretch too far."

When his battalion arrived at Al Qaqaa April 3, it engaged several hundred enemy soldiers and the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam in the area. The unit killed or captured all who were there, with the battle lasting through April 5.


At the same time, Perkins said, the soldiers of the unit did an initial assessment of the depot. "The concern was what's the capability of the munitions, rather than how much was there," he said

His soldiers concentrated on looking for weapons of mass destruction, especially chemical weapons. They found suspicious white powder and reported that through the chain of command. A chemical unit arrived, tested the powder and determined it was safe. The soldiers did not find the IAEA- sealed explosives.

Iraq was one of the most heavily armed countries on Earth. Perkins said it is important to remember that in its push to Baghdad, the brigade passed many depots containing thousands upon thousands of tons of arms and armaments. The brigade had no indication that the Al Qaqaa depot was anything special. "It was just another cache of weapons like the dozens we had passed," Perkins said.

The unit left the area April 5. "The mission was to quickly defeat the enemy and cause the collapse of the regime," Perkins said. "So what we did then was continue to push down the east side of the Euphrates because there was a whole brigade of the Medina division facing them."

After the 3rd Infantry Division left the area, the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, took up residence through April 11.

The 75th Exploitation Task Force visited the facility May 7, May 11 and May 27. They found no IAEA material during any of these visits. [Emphasis added]

No, that isn't the final word, but maybe this is:
Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.

John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
But I think this may be the final word:
Iraqi officials may be overstating the amount of explosives reported to have disappeared from a weapons depot, documents obtained by ABC News show.

The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control.

But International Atomic Energy Agency documents obtained by ABC News and first reported on "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" indicate the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported.

The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing — presumably stolen due to a lack of security — was based on "declaration" from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.

The IAEA documents could mean that 138 tons of explosives were removed from the facility long before the start of the United States launched "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in March 2003.


The IAEA documents from January 2003 found no discrepancy in the amount of the more dangerous HMX explosives thought to be stored at Al-Qaqaa, but they do raise another disturbing possibility.

The documents show IAEA inspectors looked at nine bunkers containing more than 194 tons of HMX at the facility. Although these bunkers were still under IAEA seal, the inspectors said the seals may be potentially ineffective because they had ventilation slats on the sides. These slats could be easily removed to remove the materials inside the bunkers without breaking the seals, the inspectors noted. [Emphasis added]

(ABC link via Michael Totten at Instapundit.

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 AM | Comments (4)

October 27, 2004

Those missing explosives II

Oct. 27 - There still hasn't been anything definitive as to when the explosives were taken, but everyone has pointed out that a cache that large would have required 40 trucks to move, and since there seems to have been a lack of IAEA seal sightings, the implications are that they were moved before US troops arrived.

Almost time to go to work, but here are some links on Bombgate (or NYTrogate as Captain's Quarters is calling it, or Qaqaagate from Powerline) starting with the CBS report filed April 4, 2003, which indicates that

a) CBS doesn't believe their own stories, and/or
b) CBS doesn't read their own stories, and/or
c) they still don't both to fact check their stories in their rush to impugn the president, and/or
d) all of the above.

From the CBS story:

U.S. troops found thousands of boxes of white powder, nerve agent antidote and Arabic documents on how to engage in chemical warfare at an industrial site south of Baghdad. But a senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the materials were believed to be explosives.

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the materials were found Friday at the Latifiyah industrial complex just south of Baghdad.

"It is clearly a suspicious site," Peabody said.

It seems that the 3rd ID visited the site before and after the 101st Airborne, and indications are that the 3rd ID didn't find anything with IAEA seals on their first visit.

It would have been nice had they destroyed the explosives then, I guess, but since suspicions were high that there were chemical and biological agents hidden in the facility, maybe that wouldn't have been such a good move, hmm?

Good old 20/20 highsight. It never comes in time to actually inform decisions.

Super good links to follow are Captain's Quarters which was first with the CBS story about the 3rd ID visit to Al Qaaqa in April, 2003. (Link via Instapundit post by Michael Totten.)

Wretchard clarifies matters best. Excellent post as always.

The NY Sun says UN inspectors were urged to destroy the explosives in 1995.

N.Z. Bear wonders why the explosives haven't been used and has a comprehensive link round-up including this one which wonders about Mohammed Al Baradei's motives.

Power Line covers the President's response to the issue.

I have to get ready for work, but am taking a moment to reflect on the way things were in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

You remember the March and April days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, don't you? When the troops kept their gas masks close at hand, and we were braced for an attack of sarin or mustard gas. When we prayed it wouldn't happen because even though the troops had personal protective equipment the Iraqi people didn't and the death toll of civilians would have been staggering.

We weren't looking for conventional weapons. Those we found. We were looking for the unconventional ones. We didn't find them, and that has been a campaign issue.

We found conventional ones, and that has become a campaign issue too.

6 more days. Please let the country stay sane.

I was in media post when the server went down, and regret I don't have time to respond to some comments in earlier posts, but I'll miss my bus if I don't get the heck out of here. Please excuse poor grammar, spelling errors and incorrect syntax.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2004

NBC Embed confirms material already gone in April, 2003

Oct. 26 - [Update: The Third ID was at the facility a week before the 101st. Scroll down for more.]

An NBC crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division accompanied the soldiers to the Al Qaqaa weapon storage facility on April 10, 2003, and found the powerful explosives already gone. (Note that the fall of Baghdad occurred April 9, 2003.)

The last IAEA verification that the material was at the facility was in January, 2003.

Aside: Joe Lockhart, Kerry's senior advisor, is an ass. After the story went Pop! there was a somewhat petulant exchange:

"John Kerry's attacks today were baseless," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said. "He said American troops did not secure the explosives, when the explosives were already missing."

Schmidt also said that Kerry "neglects to mention the 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that are either destroyed or in the process of being destroyed" in Iraq.

But Kerry senior adviser Joe Lockhart fired back with a statement of his own, accusing the Bush campaign of "distorting" the NBC News report.

"In a shameless attempt to cover up its failure to secure 380 tons of highly explosive material in Iraq, the White House is desperately flailing in an effort to escape blame," Lockhart said. "It is the latest pathetic excuse from an administration that never admits a mistake, no matter how disastrous."

I think CNN got the last word here:
Lockhart did not elaborate on how the Bush campaign was distorting the NBC report.

8:06: The CBC is sticking with the original story as of this time.

UNITED NATIONS - Hundreds of tonnes of high explosives are missing and probably looted from a former Iraqi military facility, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Monday.


The Al Qaqaa facility, a large military installation located 45 kilometres south of Baghdad, has been under U.S. military control since the war, but has repeatedly been looted.

Some wonder whether the missing explosives are now being used in insurgent attacks against the forces of the U.S.-led coalition. (Bolding added)

I'm certain they'll update the story soon.

10:58: The National Review has the transcript of the story from last night on NBC News:

Here's the MSNBC report of this story. (Update: It seems to have been expanded at my second viewing at 8:51 p.m.)

12:01: The CBC still hasn't updated the story, and the Toronto Star is carrying the original account, or yesterday's discredited news today. I almost feel sorry for them, they're having such fun over an already discredited story.

By the way, today's account in the NY Times is Iraq Explosives Become Issue in Campaign. Yep, you might say that.

Wretchard ties in the removal of the explosives some time between January and April, 2003, with the "global test" so many promote:

Although it is both desirable and necessary to criticize the mistakes attendant to OIF, much of the really "criminal" neglect may be laid on the diplomatic failure which gave the wily enemy this invaluable opportunity. The price of passing the "Global Test" was very high; and having been gypped once, there are some who are still eager to be taken to the cleaners again.
[I first posted this at 7:40 but am bumping it to the top.]

21:00: It appears the Third Infantry Division arrived at al Qa Qaa a week earlier on April 3, 2003 (google search here - you need a paid subscription to read old articles on The Straits Times.) I haven't seen anything on what explosives the Third ID found but this reprint of an AP story is extremely interesting:

Closer to Baghdad, troops at Iraq's largest military industrial complex found nerve agent antidotes, documents describing chemical warfare and a white powder that appeared to be used for explosives.

U.N. weapons inspectors went repeatedly to the vast al Qa Qaa complex - most recently on March 8 - but found nothing during spot visits to some of the 1,100 buildings at the site 25 miles south of Baghdad.

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said troops found thousands of 2-inch by 5-inch boxes, each containing three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.

A senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the powder was believed to be explosives. The finding would be consistent with the plant's stated production capabilities in the field of basic raw materials for explosives and propellants.

(Drumbeat may be on hiatus, but the archives endure.)

Remember: in the first months of OIF, we were more concerned about stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The MSNBC has expanded their earlier article on this including the recollections of the embed who was with the 101st Airborne on April 10 which are that the 101st was only there 24 hours and didn't conduct a thorough search.

The Toronto Star reports on the NBC embed's recollections but that aspect has lost traction after the report that the 3rd ID had been there a week earlier.

From Drudge, Elizabeth Jensen of the LA Times reports:

CBS News' "60 Minutes" landed a major story last week: the disappearance in Iraq of a large cache of explosives supposed to be under guard by the U.S. military. But the network nevertheless found itself in the journalistically awkward position of playing catch-up when it wasn't able to get the piece on the air as soon as its reporting partner, the New York Times, which made the report its lead story Monday.
A number of questions are being raised by this story, the biggest of which has to be if the "insurgents" have those weapons, why haven't they used them? The other should be why didn't the U.N. destroy those explosives but we already know they chose to let Saddam keep them for "construction" uses.

Tangentially, Roger L. Simon urging that the possibility that Mohammed El Baradei is the source of this story - and the timing - be explored further. If the UN is attempting to influence the US elections it is a major scandal, although after UNSCAM I guess I'm prepared to believe the worst.

CBS and the NY Times really should consider putting on their 'jamies occasionally and researching articles more fully. Unfortunately, I have to change out of mine and dash off to work.

Posted by Debbye at 12:28 PM | Comments (3)

More coalition casualties in Iraq

Oct. 25 - From an AP story, Convoys bombed, 8 killed:

BOMBINGS STRUCK four coalition and Iraqi military convoys and a provincial government office yesterday, killing at least eight people, including an American soldier and an Estonian trooper in the Baghdad area. Coming a day after the bodies of nearly 50 Iraqi military recruits were found massacred, the bombings occurred as a UN agency confirmed that several hundred tonnes of explosives were missing from a former Iraqi military depot in an insurgent hotspot south of Baghdad. [Note: explosives story has been discredited]

The revelation raised concerns the explosives fell into the hands of insurgents who have staged a spate of bloody car bombings, although there was no evidence to link the missing explosives directly to the attacks.

Estonia, another country Kerry dismisses. Oh well, he was dismissive of Warsaw Pact countries during the Cold War too.

Thank you for your support and sacrifice, Estonia.

Yesterday, a roadside bomb in western Baghdad killed one U.S. soldier and wounded five, the U.S. military said. An Estonian soldier died when a roadside bomb exploded at a market just outside Baghdad as his patrol went by, the Estonian military said. Five other Estonian soldiers were wounded.


Insurgent attacks across Iraq have increased by 25% since the holy month of Ramadan began two weeks ago.

Do you suppose AP would get upset if I put death quotes around "insurgents?"

[Note that the paper editions of, er, newspapers were printed before they realized that the missing explosives story was wrong.]

Posted by Debbye at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

Those missing explosives

Oct. 25 - I've been trying to think of something to say about the Tons of Iraq explosives missing but I've developed a severe headache from banging my head on the desk.

Posted by Debbye at 01:04 PM | Comments (4)

Our real allies

Oct. 25 - The news that 50 unarmed Iraqi soldiers were waylaid and murdered is perhaps the grimmest in several acts of violence in Iraq yesterday which also saw the death of a U.S. diplomat, Edward Seitz, and has been more than adequately covered everywhere, but I wanted to bring attention to the death of a Bulgarian coalition soldier which may have been overlooked:

A Bulgarian soldier was killed and two others were injured in a car-bombing near Karbala, the Bulgarian Defense Ministry said. Karbala, a Shi'ite holy city south of Baghdad, had been quiet since U.S. troops routed Shi'ite militia there last spring.
We don't often remember to thank the soldiers from other nations that are actively supporting the efforts in Iraq. My condolences to this man's family and hopes for a speedy recovery for the two injured soldiers.

11:56: 3 Australian diggers have been injured in the first ever attack on an Australian convoy:

The three-vehicle convoy, which protects Australia's diplomats, was hit when a bomber drove a car laden with explosives into it at about 8am Baghdad time, also killing several Iraqi civilians.

The attack happened 350m from the Australian embassy, which is outside the city's fortified Green Zone.

The convoy was believed to be on routine patrol or having returned from dropping off a diplomat. There were no diplomats with it at the time.

Defence Force spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan said one of the soldiers was undergoing surgery last night for facial injuries, another was concussed and the third was treated for minor abrasions and released.

He said the injured were taken to a US medical facility and their families were being contacted.

What can one say about the valiant Australians? (Not enough, quite frankly.) Thank you, mates.

The most arrogant aspect of the Kerry campaign has been his disregard for the real allies who are fighting and dying in Iraq in favour of promoting his phantom allies:

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.
Kerry probably got the year wrong, having meant that they all chatted that Christmas they spent together in Cambodia.

It's likely there will be a sustained campaign against American, Iraqi and coalition forces this coming week as the increase in violence is clearly intended to influence the U.S. elections, but it is my belief that knowing we are being manipulated will stiffen, not weaken, our spines.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

The sanctions worked, hmm?

Oct. 25 - More on UNSCAM: AP EXCLUSIVE: Iraqis reveal in secret interviews how Saddam manipulated oil-for-food program. In addition to the information already contained in the Duelfer Report about the use oil vouchers to enlist support for the lifting of sanctions, a Congressional committee has gathered evidence of further corruption:

One investigator described the exempt list as the equivalent of the list in Duelfer's report of oil voucher recipients, but in this case for goods imported under the U.N. program.

"Until now, it had been thought that only vouchers for oil were handed out, but due to disclosures by Iraqi officials from the Ministry of Trade, we now understand that the practice was spread even further," said the investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Companies on Saddam's special lists got vouchers giving them priority for deals in humanitarian goods under oil-for-food, or to act as middlemen for companies providing goods.

Some Iraqi officials confirmed the lists were crafted to reward companies from countries supporting Iraqi political goals, especially the lifting of U.N. sanctions, investigators said.

"These lists illustrate how Saddam Hussein cynically manipulated and corrupted the oil-for-food program," said Hyde [Chair of the House International Relations Committee Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.] "The fact, disclosed in the Duelfer report, that some countries based their Iraq policies on these corrupt practices is shameful."

The exempt list came from an official at the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and was authenticated separately by over a dozen current and former Iraqi officials, investigators said.

There were also companies black-listed:
Over 250 companies appear on Saddam's blacklist, obtained from an Iraqi Health Ministry official, according to congressional investigators. The document also details reasons the companies lost favor with the Iraqi government. Dozens of the companies are blasted for "dealing with the Zionist entity," apparently referring to Israel.

One contract in English obtained by AP from investigators required companies given deals with the Iraqi government to sign a pledge that says, "We hereby confirm our commitment and pledge not to deal with Israel."

American companies Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard Co., and Eli Lilly and Co., make the list for this reason and Agilent Technologies Inc. -- which was spun off from Hewlett-Packard -- is accused by Vice President Ramadan of changing its name from Hewlett-Packard to "enter into Israel," according to the document.

The Russian oil company Lukoil seemingly scored a hat trick:
Lukoil, which reportedly clashed with Baghdad after refusing to break sanctions to begin development of an Iraqi oil field, is the only company to make the oil voucher list, the exempt list and the blacklist. Its entry onto the blacklist is dated October 2002. In December 2002, Iraq announced the cancelation of a $3.7 billion contract with Lukoil to develop the oil field.
(Link via Instapundit.)

The AP story is also up at the ABC News website.

Posted by Debbye at 03:15 AM | Comments (1)

Good news from Iraq

Oct. 25 - Long but well worth the time to read and digest: Arthur Chrenkoff has written a comprehensive review of the good news from Iraq:

In truth, of course, there is only one Iraq. Even if we don't see it too often reflected in the news coverage, we instinctively know that Iraq of violence and Iraq of recovery can, and do, coexist with each other within the same physical borders. We know that there is nothing mutually exclusive about tragedy and hope, horror and promise, frustration and exuberance. This is true in our own lives; and so it is just as true in lives of whole nations.
This article is also available at the Opinion Journal online as Two Nations as One if the demand makes the first link inaccessible.

I'm not going to comment further; I want to re-read the article.

Posted by Debbye at 02:37 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

The spectre of Halliburton

Oct. 24 - Halliburton. That name has become a byword to invoke images of Evil Corporate America yet few actually know what it is and what function it performs.

I have come to learn one thing about Halliburton: When other agencies fled Iraq, Halliburton and its employees stayed and continued to perform their duties in the best tradition.

FoxNews looks at Halliburton's subsidiary KBR, which supplies food and supplies to US troops in Iraq, and calls those employees America's Unsung Heroes. It looks to me that the KBR employees have found a higher calling in Iraq other than the high pay, and it's time they were recognized and applauded.

Posted by Debbye at 05:25 PM | Comments (6)

October 22, 2004

Hassan pleads for her life

Oct. 22 - There is often something horrible about how events can become predictable, and when I saw the following item on the CNN website I hated how unsurprised I was but I hated more how these monsters use our compassion against us. We understand the stakes, yet know we must remain stern and unflinching. And I feel rotten about it.

CARE worker pleads for her life:

In the video aired Friday by the Arabic-language TV channel, Hassan is speaking to the camera, sobbing and crying.

"Please help me, please help me, these might be my last hours.... Please help me, please British people ask Mr. (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair to pull the troops from Iraq and not bring them to Baghdad.

"Please, please I beg of you, the British people, to help me. I don't want to die like (Kenneth) Bigley. I beg of you, I beg of you."

Many of us were awestruck with the bravery of Italian Fabrizio Quattrocchi, the man who defied his murderers and denied them the triumph of using his death to frighten and intimidate others, and I'm not the only person who thought of Fabrizio while we witnessed Ken Bigley's desperate pleas to Tony Blair.

As we feared, the Kenneth Bigley saga has resulted in an upping of the ante: they've kidnapped a woman.

It is a harsh and cruel thing to be held in captivity by people who have proven their capacity for brutality, and no one can pretend to know what Margaret Hassan has endured.

I pray her captors let her go. I hope she returns to her home and husband safely and will be able to reclaim her life and resume her humanitarian activities.

But make no mistake: Ms. Hassan's life is not in Tony Blair's hands, but in the hands of her captors.

And I hope she understands that the very barbarity of her captors is precisely why we cannot, must not, surrender to them even for her. Or me.

Update: A video was discovered which seemed to show Margaret Hassan's execution, mercifully (?) by a bullet to the head. Bastards.

Posted by Debbye at 12:09 PM | Comments (8)

Courage in the face of world indifference

Oct. 21 - Opinion Journal argues that there has been substantial progress in Iraq, citing in particular in the latest offensive in Fallujah.

At the heart of this - and any - progress lies the single most important component: the will and determination of the Iraqi people:

Which brings us to another point that deserves more attention: the courage of the Iraqis. Young men continue to line up by the thousands outside the police and National Guard recruiting stations that have so often been targets of terrorist attack. On Tuesday a mortar struck the ING headquarters in Mushahidah, killing four. But recruit Qusay Hassan was quoted saying, "If I don't join the army, who is going to defend the country from the terrorists?"
Who indeed? Those brave, courageous human shields who were so anxious to prove their bravery by going to Iraq yet who left before the going even got tough and failed to return when they were actually needed?

Or the U.N., which arrogantly failed to acknowledge the dangers and, rather than admit to and rectify its error, fled?

Or maybe Western liberals, who should be thrilled at the blossoming of freedom in Iraq but who cannot abide the notion that the USA has done something right, thereby allowing their hatred for America overshadow their oft-proclaimed love for their fellow men and women?

The contempt I feel for those who would diminish people like Qusay Hassan cannot find words. We are witnessing mighty deeds and heroes from which songs are made, and even as I rejoice that there is still such in this world I am pained to see a portion of our civilization, aided and abetted by main stream media, try so hard to prove itself frivolous.

When our children and grandchildren ask about "our day," it won't be curiousity about Michael Jackson, Teresa Heinz-Kerry or even the curse of the Bambino: it will be about the struggle of freedom vs. tyranny in the Mid-east. However shall we answer them?

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 AM | Comments (2)

October 17, 2004

Ramadan Begins

Oct. 17 - Violence mars start of Ramadan in Iraq - Oct 16, 2004. We have come to a sad state of affairs when honest Muslims, Jews and Christians regard the beginning of Ramadam with trepidation rather than joy.

I'm certain I'm not the first person to wonder how the world would respond if Christmas was celebrated by bombing mosques.

File this under "how depressing."

Posted by Debbye at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2004

Their coaltion is collapsing

Oct. 13 - I have to get ready for work, but read and ponder this: Insurgent Alliance Is Fraying In Fallujah at the Washington Post (free registration may be required):

BAGHDAD, Oct. 12 -- Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses.

"If the Arabs will not leave willingly, we will make them leave by force," said Jamal Adnan, a taxi driver who left his house in Fallujah's Shurta neighborhood a month ago after the house next door was bombed by U.S. aircraft targeting foreign insurgents.

Sometimes common sense can leap ahead of history to make fairly accurate pronouncements, so there are a couple of snap possibilities I can offer:

The Iraqi insurgents who target coalition forces have been lumped with those terrorists who deliberately target civilians, and it has damaged the Ba'athist cause.

The infrastructure in Fallujah is collapsing, and life ain't easy without electricity and running water.

Those damned US warplanes keep pounding at them.

The elections are looming, and Def. Sec. Rumsfeld has already allowed for the possibility that the Ba'athist strongholds may not participate. In what many thought a faux pas I saw Classic Rumsfeld: by pointing out that elections could still be held without Fallujah and other insurgent hotspots, he made it clear that the January elections would go forward with or without them. They clearly understood the implications of this even if the NY Times didn't.

I suspect the last one is the final straw that has caused them to re-examine their strategy. The olive branch and prospect of sharing power is still on the table: they simply have to accept that they must share, not dominate.

So will they chose to die for a past that will never return or live for a future that may be different than they had anticipated under Saddam but will still not be altogether unrewarding?

Some things I'm not willing to forget: there's a bridge in Fallujah that needs to be obliterated before this chapter is finally closed.

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 PM | Comments (1)

The burden of history

Oct. 13 - Another Mass grave unearthed in Iraq:

Many of the bodies found at the site near al-Hatra are believed to be the bodies of Kurdish women and children thought slaughtered by the Saddam Hussein regime.
As I read this it struck me that I have lost count of the number of mass graves that have been unearthed, not because they are unimportant but because there are so damned many.

There has been so much focus on the failure to find stockpiles of WMD that it has been easy to forget that there were also human rights requirements included in the flouted U.N. resolutions that formed the cause for resumption of hostilities against Iraq.

After Saddam fled Baghdad, TV crews filmed people digging and clawing through tunnels in the hopes of finding loved one who had been arrested and never heard from again. Our forces found mass graves filled with those who had been hastily killed within two weeks of the opening assault in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I still can't forget images of those people who, when mass graves were found, dug with their bare hands in hopes of finding an identity card, bit of clothing or other trace indicating they had finally located the remains of a loved one.

There were many reasons to support this war, but the decision to leave Saddam in power after 1991 still forms the bedrock for those reasons and I remain proud that we rectified that error even as we grieve those who have been lost in this endeavour.

The president's answer during the last debate about mistakes he may have made was the only possible one: history will determine what was a mistake and what was not.

Responsible leaders make decisions every day knowing that they cannot forsee all possible outcomes and knowing that, in the end, they can only judge themselves as to whether they did their best to do what was right with the information available at the time. History not only has the advantage of hindsight but also the advantage of not bearing the burdens of the decision makers it presumes to judge.

One thing history may judge is the degree to which the stated intention to force a regime change in Iraq kept many countries from joining the Coalition and, for those who bewail the lack of France, Germany, Russia (and Canada,) it would do well to consider if the war would have been worth the cost had the butcher Saddam and his psychotic, homicidal sons remained in power.

I think not.

The highlighted section from this passage in President Bush's speech to the Joint Houses of Congress on Sept. 21, 2001, was prescient of today's state of affairs:

... Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. (Emphasis added)
The unfortunate truth is that we had to convince others - and especially Iraqis - that we wouldn't turn tail and run this time as we had in Lebanon, Iraq, and Somalia. We had to prove that we were willing to get down and dirty and fight a real war on the ground instead of from the skies as we had in Kosovo.

I hate the fact that we had to sacrifice coalition and Iraqi lives in this endeavour. I would have much preferred that we could have gathered together with some of Saddam's friends, family and associates, had a barbeque at one of his palaces, and then confronted him with his failings in some kind of intervention and through those means have persuaded him to change his killin' ways.

But that wouldn't have been reality, it would have been a dream sequence on "Friends."

So we sacrificed blood and treasure, a neat little phrase that obscures the painful truth that we sacrificed the futures of some fine men and women - American, Iraqi, British, Polish, Ukranian, Bulgarian, Italian, Spanish and others, and, although no Australians have been lost, they too were willing to die.

There are lessons in our own past that point to how we can redeem the blood debt we owe to the fallen. In the immortal words of President Abraham Lincoln:

It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
Or this crisp admonition from Tom Hank's character in the movie "Saving Private Ryan"
"Earn this."

This post at Tim Blair's site and especially the commenters' discussion about the historical evaluation of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies is very thought-provoking.

Posted by Debbye at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2004

New Vatican postion on Iraq

Oct. 11 - Who would have figured the Vatican to jump aboard a band wagon? (Vatican buries the hatchet with Blair and Bush over Iraq):

Now, in light of the post-war chaos, Cardinal Sodano has announced a newly hawkish line on Iraq from Rome. "The child has been born," he declared recently on behalf of the Vatican. "It may be illegitimate, but it's here, and it must be reared and educated."
Interesting and probably intentional analogy.
In a trenchant interview in the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, Cardinal Sodano said that as the crisis in Iraq deepened, the time had come to forget past differences over the decision to invade.

His comments appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign to galvanise military and financial support for a democratic Iraq among critics of the war such as France and Germany.

Inasmuch as both Germany and France have declared they won't send troops to Iraq whatever the outcome of the US presidential election in November, I somehow doubt that words from the Vatican are going to sway them, but does it confer a belated legitimacy to the actions of our Italian allies and a back-hand slap at the Spanish and Philippine decisions to withdraw?

I seem to recall a member of the Vatican on Saddam's list of oil voucher recipients. Any connection?

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (1)

July 06, 2004

Militia threatens Zarqawi

July 6 - A new group in Iraq calls itself the Rescue Group and threatens death for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he doesn't leave the country:

The Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya said it received a taped statement from an organization that calls itself the Rescue Group warning al-Zarqawi and his followers to leave Iraq or face the consequences.

One masked militant read a stamen denouncing the actions by al-Zarqawi and his followers as hurtful to Iraq, particularly the kidnapping of foreigners.

The group has called for the killing of the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi if he doesn't leave Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 06:34 PM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2004

Fix Bayonets

July 5 - Article in the Sun (UK) about the stirring bayonet charge by British sodliers in Iraq (Army's fearless five:

THE staggering heroism of five British soldiers as they helped rout more than a HUNDRED Iraqi rebels is revealed for the first time today by The Sun.

The men came to the rescue of ambushed comrades — saving their lives with the Army’s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago.

After a bloody battle which raged for four hours at least 28 of the enemy lay dead. Fleeing cohorts are thought to have dragged away at least the same number of bodies.

Just two of Our Boys were slightly wounded. Last night the brave troops — members of the same regiment as the private tipped for a Victoria Cross — told of the desperate fight.

Private Anthony Rushforth, 23, said: “We were pumped up on adrenaline — proper angry. It’s only afterwards you think, ‘Jesus, I actually did that’.”

The terrifying bayonet charge by the members of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment — nicknamed The Tigers — saw trench after trench taken from the enemy.

It was led by Sgt Major Dave Falconer, 36. He said of his men: “I am very proud of them.”

The other heroes were Sgt Chris Broome, 35, and privates John-Claude Fowler, 19 and Matthew Tatawaqa, 23. The men, from C Company, raced to the rescue in Warrior armoured vehicles after an ambush by rebels loyal to rogue Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Two Land Rovers transporting Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had been pinned down by heavy fire south of Al Amarah, 150 miles from Basra.

As the Warriors arrived, they too were targeted by machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.

Sgt Major Falconer, from Portsmouth, said: “Our Warriors were vulnerable to attack from the side by the enemy hiding in ditches.

“The only way you can hold ground in that situation is by having boots on it — so that’s what we did.”

That is military-speak for sending in infantry. Private Rushforth, from Southampton, said: “When the order came to dismount and attack, it was just like what we’ve done dozens of times in training.

“We sprinted in ten-metre bursts, then hit the ground to put down some rounds, and then carried on again for the last 30 metres. We broke into pairs and finished off the trench.”

The fight was dubbed the Battle for Danny Boy — after the name of the remote checkpoint where it took place.

FIRST Sgt Maj Falconer’s men defied enemy fire to charge 200 metres across open land.

They leapt into the first trench, killing three enemy with SA80 rifle bullets and “cold steel”. Four were taken prisoner.

THEN they took two further trenches as the Warriors provided covering fire from chain guns and 30mm cannon.

Eight more enemy were killed and four surrendered.

Diehard rebels continued to hold out. FINALLY a Challenger II tank was summoned to blitz their bunker. The five were hailed heroes along with a sixth soldier Lance Corporal Brian Wood. He has since been posted back in Britain.

The last time the Army used bayonets in action was when Scots Guards assaulted Argentinian positions in 1982. Sgt Maj Falconer said: “The lads performed excellently and with the highest professionalism.”

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 PM | Comments (3)

Australian digger awarded Bronze Star

July 5 - Australian Colonel Peter (Ted) Acutt was awarded the Bronze Star for exceptionally meritorious service (Digger awarded US war medal).

"He was instrumental in maintaining effective coordination between various coalition military elements, the Coalition Provisional Authority and emerging Iraqi ministries," Mr Brough [Asst. Def. Min. Mal Brough] said in a statement.

"In particular, Colonel Acutt was a strong advocate of cooperative planning for security matters and some of his initiatives have assisted the transition to Iraqi sovereignty."

Well done, Colonel. Deepest respects and gratitude to you and the other valiant Australians.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 AM | Comments (2)

July 03, 2004

Iraqi Official investigating UNSCAM killed

July 3 - Followed a link from Instapundit to a Washington Times article in which Paul Bremer denies trying to block the investigation into the UN Oil-for-Food (Bremer says charge of blocking oil-for-food probe 'nonsense'):

In April, Mr. Bremer cut short a probe begun by Mr. Chalabi, who was chairman of the council's finance committee, and the international accounting firm KPMG. He said in the interview he wanted the investigation to be run by the Board of Supreme Audit, an independent body of auditors which had operated during Saddam's reign.

The audit board then held its own expedited bid process, awarding the bulk of the investigation work to Ernst & Young, another major international accounting firm, on May 13.

Then over over to Friends of Saddam to read their analysis but was hit broadside with this:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi official heading the investigation into alleged corruption in the United Nations oil-for-food program was killed in a bomb attack earlier this week, officials familiar with the probe said on Saturday.

Ihsan Karim, head of the Board of Supreme Audit, died in hospital after a bomb placed under one of the cars in his convoy exploded on Thursday, the officials said.

Posted by Debbye at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2004

The real Minutemen of Iraq

July 2 - I saw the interview with Scott Erwin early this morning on CNN and am pleased to note that much of it is available at the CNN website (American forever indebted to Iraqi friend.)

Key quote:

While in a state of shock, Erwin said he remembered feeling deep disappointment and sadness for the loss of Col. Mohammed's life, because he had a family -- a wife and two children.

He said he thought about how Col. Mohammed "would never get to see a prosperous Iraq, which he always talked about and he always dreamed about."

That's the real outrage: that the terrorists are determined to kill those who want to build a free and prosperous Iraq. It's also the true mark of heroism: that so many Iraqis persist despite the real and present danger to themselves for the terrible crime of having hope and optimism.

It's not often I recommend anyone read an entire CNN item, but this is a worth while read.

A good companion piece is this entry from Army Specialist Joe Roche of the 16th Engineering Battalion of the lst Armored Division here. An excerpt:

The 1st Armored Division, of which the 16th Engineers are a part, led the charge against Muqtada Al-Sadr's uprising. The 16th was in the front in all this in Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Baghdad. And contrary to the negative news coverage, the reality is that we have won some major victories that are having dramatic impact region-wide. I don't think most Americans are aware of the seriousness of the threats we confronted and defeated.

Sadr's Mahdi Army was backed by extensive foreign fighters and a huge amount support. Iran's formidable Al-Quds Army (named for the conquest of Jerusalem, Israel) directly assisted their attacks against us. They trained some 1,200 of Sadr's fighters at three camps they ran along the Iran-Iraq border at Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam, and Hamid. This was backed by what one Iranian defector to us has said was $70 million dollars a month given by Iranian agents to our enemies -- from which Sadr's forces were directly funded in just the past few months by up to $80 million more. The Iranian Embassy distributed some 400 satellite phones in Baghdad to Sadr's forces, while 2,700 apartments and rooms were rented in Karbala and Najaf as safe houses. Sadr's ability to influence the Iraqi people was further enhanced by 300 "reporters" and "technicians" working for his newspaper, radio and television networks -- persons who are actually members of the Al-Quds Army and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

We also faced Chechen snipers in Sadr's forces who were being paid anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on differing accounts, for each American soldier they hit. One sniper hit five soldiers in less then a minute-and-a-half, killing one with a shot in the neck. These mercenaries were sending this money back to Al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas in Chechnya to fight the Russians.

Hit the pause button. Replay that last paragraph. It's going to be very easy for some to dismiss Spc. Roche's statement, but I can help wondering if it's yet another manifestation of what State Sec. Powell termed a nexus of terrorism.

There are some who will never be convinced that our best course was to take the fight to the enemy. They whine that they are in more danger now than before, but they have already been proven to be poor students of history, as this list makes clear.

Personally, I never felt safer. I'm going to die someday, and only the how and the when are questionable. But there is something so uplifting about fighting back instead of cowering under the bed that I just wish I was one of those "old soldiers" being recalled to duty.

Hmm, there is a Tolkien reference in there. It's from The Silmarillion, and addresses how the Numenorean civilization began to decay because it became motivated by the fear of death rather than the joy of life.

Posted by Debbye at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

Saddam's hearing and the U.N. in Sudan (updated)

July 2 - The Toronto Sun isn't overlooking the ugly nature of Saddam on the cover of today's online edition although they do seem to favour the insanity explanation: Iraq's Mad Man on Trial. The AP story they've printed on Saddam's appearance before the court , Madman gives a piece of his mind, is definitely not sympathetic and reminds us that Saddam was pulled out of a hole. (I, for one, never get tired of remembering that!) Today's Sun also carries the AP story Hang him, Iraqis urge, which indicates that Iraqis are fully aware that he is getting the open trial he denied to so many others and are gratified to see him before a court for his crimes.

I feel the lack of the word "high" from that last title. I'm not sure why: hanging is hanging and elevation shouldn't be all that relevant, but all the same I want them to hang him high.

Is it too much to hope that the drumbeats of those who declare the Iraqis are incapable of trying Saddam will die down? (Probably.) At least this hearing has re-focused attention on the mass graves and years of torture that was, for many of us, a primary cause for the forcible removal of Saddam.

Is Saddam Hussein a mad man? Or was he power mad? The simplest explanation for those who abuse power is probably the correct one: they do so because they can. Our forefathers certainly understood that danger when they placed so many checks and balances onto our political system. [One article of interest in today's NY Times is by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Tyrants on Trial, which draws some interesting parallels between Saddam and Stalin, although he delves into the psychology of the two men more than to my liking.]

[Update July 3 - 00:40: Totally whacky Captioned Saddam pics! Rock, Paper, Scissors ... (thanks to Rocket Jones for the link.)]

The best read in today's NY Times is another excellent article by John Burns. He writes:

At the start, the young Iraqi investigative judge, his identity shielded from disclosure by Iraqi and American officials fearful of his assassination, stared straight back at Mr. Hussein, barely 10 feet away, and said plainly, "former president."

"No, present," Mr. Hussein said. "Current. It's the will of the people."

"Write down, in brackets, `former president,' " the judge told the court clerk.

This debate over his status is not just defiance on Saddam's part, but essential to his defense in some countries:
Mr. Hussein's point, repeatedly, was that it was unthinkable for him to be charged for his actions as Iraq's leader, since that gave him immunity, and, he implied, the defense that even murder or military aggression was justified if he deemed it in Iraq's interest.
In some countries, as the USA, presidents are accountable before the law. In others, such as France, they aren't accountable during their times in office although they can be prosecuted after they step down.

As I surmised yesterday, Saddam has been watching enitrely too much CNN:

He told the judge, "You know that this is all a theater by Bush, to help him win his election."
Expect this to become a constant accusation from the left as they will undoubtably spin all gains in Iraq as being about our election rather than Iraq's future.

The alternative explanations are much simpler: we honour our committments, and we genuinely believe in liberty.

Burns makes the connection that many of us make and must not be lost during the election spin that will accompany much of the analysis not only of this preliminary hearing but of the handover as well:

There were echoes of past war crimes trials at Nuremberg after World War II, and at The Hague after the wars of the 1990's that ravaged the former Yugoslavia, when one after another of the men argued that he could not be held personally accountable for actions ordered by others, or carried out in the name of the "leadership," meaning Mr. Hussein and a handful of men in his innermost circle. All they had done, several defendants argued, was to follow orders or assent to actions they had no power to halt, even as high-ranking military or intelligence officials or as members of the Revolutionary Command Council, the country's most powerful and feared political body.

One who took this approach was Tariq Aziz, the 68-year-old former deputy prime minister, a Chaldean Christian who conducted many of Iraq's foreign negotiations, including the failed efforts to head off the Persian Gulf war after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Mr. Aziz cut a figure of unshakable self-confidence in power, stalking the marble halls of Baghdad's palaces pulling on a cigar, boasting until the last weeks before the American attack in March last year that he and other government leaders would be "shadows" by the time American troops arrived in Baghdad, uncatchable. In fact, he gave himself up shortly after Mr. Hussein's government was toppled.

At Thursday's hearing, he, like many others, was a shadow, in another sense, of his former self. His shoulders bowed, his head forward, he mopped his brow, bit his lip, blew his nose, and wrung his hands. He sat through the hearing with the chain used to manacle him dangling at his waist. Once a man who prided himself on his well-cut suits, he seemed not to notice the chain nestling against his ill-fitting, American-bought suit.

The swaggering thugs that looted and terrorized the Iraqi people are now revealed to be mere mortals who, having lost their lionized status, are being treated like the criminals they are and being held to account for their crimes. One has to wonder what people in countries like Iran and Zimbabwe think as they witness a murderous dictator and his once-merry band brought before the people they once terrorized and are forced to face justice.

Don't underestimate the value of broadcasting Saddam's trial to the world. It's going to give a lot of people ideas and maybe even hope.

Citing the precedent of Nuremburg invokes many principles: that genocidal murderers will not be given free passes just because they delegated murder to subordinates, that "following orders" is no defense (note that it wasn't an acceptable defense for the Abu Ghraib defendents), and that the world must not stand by while genocide occurs.

Contrary to the song, two out of three is bad. The U.N. has become an after-the-fact prosecutor of war criminals, thus glossing over it's feckless inability (or unwillingness) to prevent war crimes.

The situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is finally gaining widespread attention and the vanity that accompanies the U.N. as an internationally recognized font of legitimacy has been exposed for the facade that it is.

Again, from the NY Times an article by Marc Lacey

EL FASHER, Sudan, July 1 - There were only donkeys milling around in a soggy, trash-strewn lot on Thursday afternoon when the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and his entourage arrived at what was supposed to be a crowded squatter camp here in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

Gone were the more than 1,000 residents of the Meshtel settlement. Gone as well were their makeshift dwellings. Hours before Mr. Annan's arrival, the local authorities had loaded the camp's inhabitants aboard trucks and moved them.

"Where are the people?" Mr. Annan was overheard asking a Sudanese official who was accompanying his tour of Darfur, the region in western Sudan where the government has been accused of unleashing armed militias on the local population to quell a rebel uprising.

Al Noor Muhammad Ibrahim, minister of social affairs for the state of North Darfur, explained that the camp on Mr. Annan's itinerary no longer existed. He said the government had relocated its residents the evening before, sometime after United Nations officials had paid a visit at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in preparation for a stop by Mr. Annan.

"It's not because the secretary general of the United Nations is here that we moved them," Mr. Ibrahim insisted as incredulous United Nations officials looked on. Mr. Ibrahim said the conditions were too grim for the people there and that humanitarianism, not public relations, had motivated him to act. "We did not like seeing people living like that," he said.

Mr. Annan, who did not leave his vehicle, stayed silent as visibly agitated aides argued with the Sudanese authorities about the sudden relocation. The government urged Mr. Annan to visit another settlement, a nearby camp with far better conditions which Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had toured Wednesday during his brief stop in Darfur.

"Of course, it is of concern," that the government had moved so many people so suddenly, Mr. Annan said later in an interview. "We are trying to sort it out."

It is impossible for me to read this story and not have a snarky reaction, but that diminishes the real human tragedy of the situation in Darfur.

[Update 18:08: Ouch! Michelle Malkin is calling the relocations the Sudanese Shuffle.]

I think the USA has her hands full right now with Iraq, the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, and the missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc. It's time for the enlightened international community to prove it's mettle by stepping up to the plate in Sudan (and no, I don't see that happening.)

Sadly, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Canada to assert herself as the world's foremost peacekeeping nation, but the years of neglect for the military up here have taken their toll and the true victims are people like those in Darfur.

21:23: This links to the Annan story at the Washington Post for anyone searching for the story past the NY Times's miserly expiration date.

Posted by Debbye at 12:29 PM | Comments (5)

July 01, 2004

Saddam behaved like Saddam (updated)

July 1 - First, Happy Canada Day to us up here in the Great White North. It's pretty warm in Toronto, and summer has officially begun. (Updated) Or, as Paul insists: Happy Dominion Day.

What is Canada Day? (I'm a bit jaundiced by the election results, so I'm letting this one go.)

I gave up watching the CBC coverage of Canada Day events when their military angle focused on tombstones. I get it, already. CBC doesn't think freedom is worth fighting and possibly dying for. Check.

In the news: Saddam was defiant during his court appearance. Lord knows he's watched enough CNN to know how to perform in court, so don't colour me surprised.

The internationalists are out in force whining that this trial will lack legitimacy. Let me see if I have this straight: those nations, some of which refused to oust Saddam in 1991, some of which harbour those who paid kickbacks to Saddam in order to profit in the UN Oil-for-Food program, many of which shipped expired medicines and hospital equipment that didn't work along with limousines, sports stadiums and plastic shredders, and most of which turned a blind eye to his crimes against his own people, and even those who acted within the U.N. to keep Saddam in power ... those people have the audacity to utter words like justice and legitimacy?

Why are they attempting to deprive Iraqis of their right to their day in court? Because they are anxious to give the International Criminal Court legitimacy, perhaps?

Sorry, International Community, but organizations and people gain respect by their deeds, not by their words. If you want to try a genocidal dictator, consider being aligned with those who stopped his evil regime and apprehended him.

Just a thought.

More to the point, who freaking cares what a bunch of wankers and self-appointed elitists think? We heard the same stuff from the same nations back around 225+ years ago; they were wrong then, and they are wrong now. (Kind of poor timing on their part, given the promixity of the Fourth of July, to cast doubt upon the capability of the Iraqi people to build a free and prosperous nation. I'm just saying ...)

Final thought on Saddam: Wolverines!!! (I just watched Laredo (a show I loved as a kid and which bears up well even today) on the Lonestar channel and William Smith was a regular on Laredo, and he was the eeevil Col. Strelnikov in Red Dawn. That's only three degrees of separation! Eat your heart out, Kevil Bacon.)

On a more sober note, it's not really a surprise that there would be more terrorist attacks on this day but it serves to remind us that freedom isn't free.

I don't have that much to say about the handover except Hurrah! As have many, I've been irritated beyond patience by the unending ominous pronouncements from CNN that every firefight in Fallujah "threatened the handover" because I felt every dead "insurgent" strengthened the ability of the incoming Iraqi government to organize elections and lead Iraq on a new path.

21:19: Spinkiller has an eloquent post over at The Shotgun Iraqis embrace their freedom... that is a must-read.

Peggy Noonan in today's Opinion Journal says

The early transfer of sovereignty to Iraq has hit everyone here, friend of the invasion and foe, as a brilliant stroke. Leaving early, and with such modesty--it was a pleasure to be here, let us know if there's anything we can do--tends to undermine charges of U.S. imperialism. President Bush is feeling triumphant--one can tell even from here--and the Western press is looking very irritable indeed. They don't like to be surprised, they don't like it when Mr. Bush scores one, and they don't like it when the troublemakers they've been so banking on to prove their point that Iraq was a fiasco don't even get a chance to stop the turnover.
She then goes on to worry that, with successes under our belts, the American electorate will want to vote in Kerry to serve as an "emollient" just to feel there's a chance to return to "normalcy."

That expresses a fear many of us have, that having addressed one root cause of terrorism, i.e., the lack of human rights and opportunities for self-advancement in the Mideast, and having done so with loss of American lives, the temptation to run and hide will translate into a belief that having friends who won't watch our backs but will spout all the correct sentiments is more important than being right, and that could lead to a Kerry victory in November.

I live in one of those countries which have strained relations with the USA because of Sept. 11 and the Iraq War, and I can assure Americans of one thing: they want us to fail because it will make them look less inadequate, not because we are wrong.

For proof, read Saddam was defiant again, and note that CNN is acting as though this monster has any credibility or respectability.

Noonan asks what President Bush can do about it, and I suspect that it is a rhetorical question, because most of us have expressed the wish that the president would be more vigorous in reminding us why we are fighting terrorism and why Iraq was key to turning the Mid-east to a new course.

He faces stiff opposition (mostly with alphabet names like CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, CBC, BBC, and the other ABC) but I'm convinced the American people themselves just need a bit of encouragement and bolstering.

Those who want to retreat have to ask themselves very seriously: what will you expect from the American President when the next terrorist attack occurs? Sadly, Pres. Clinton's response was to investigate fundamentalist Christians, which lead to the Waco disaster. Is that what we want?

Call me a warmonger, but I prefer the Republican president's track record to the Democrat's candidate.

Posted by Debbye at 05:33 PM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2004

Quick hits

June 24 - Sorry for the light posting. I have some excuses ...

I woke up to Wolf Blitzer talking about Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's apology for saying that reporters in Iraq spend their time in luxurious hotels. M'kay. I guess he had to apologize, because that's the 3rd American pastime (after baseball and lawsuits) but saying that reporters are in a dangerous profession doesn't change the fact that far too many of them are pontificating, lazy and smug.

But then Wolf brings in Christianne Amanpour, and I comment to Mark (who is hogging the computer) that Amanpour is mad at Wolfowitz.

"He's my hero," announced Mark.

"Mine too," I replied. "Are you through with the computer?" (He wasn't.)

I got some quick posts in before I ran into this at Let It Bleed, in which Bob is quoting Toronto Star's Harron Siddiqui asserting that Bill Graham is inspirational. I kid you not.

I just naturally had to share that with the family, so we spent an enjoyable hour thinking of ways in which Graham inspires us. (Those ways are not suitable for printing.)

By the way, I neglected to link to an unforgettable item from Sunday's post, Laughing in the Cheap Seats:

Presumably any woman who dares to disagree with Mallick's assessment of impending "disaster" is not a "real" woman. Sort of like how, for the left, Clarence Thomas or Colin Powell aren't "really" black. Again, though, let's focus on Mallick's contention that Canada would be a "lan[d] of women slapped down".
This really is the level of debate up in Ontario, by the way. It would be laughable if it wasn't so damned effective.
Now, to be fair, Mallick is actually doing Canadians a great service, by pointing this out. Because not a lot of people know that one of the most important elements of the Conservative plan is to replace the national anthem: out with "O Canada", and in with The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up". True story. It's on page 14 of their platform. Okay, I made that last bit up: the new anthem will actually be Al-D's "Bitches and Hoes".
Everyone who doesn't live in Ontario will quickly recognize the last section is satire, but I'm going to mention that fact just in case ...

It's raining, which has come to signal my departure for work. I'm a regular rain-magnet these days (and cursed by minor baseball coaches everywhere) but it is my Friday.

I have some unanswered mail, so apologize to those who have kindly written me and will answer tomorrow morning.

Posted by Debbye at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

Terror attacks in Iraq

June 24 - The death and injury toll in Iraq continues to climb as those who oppose Iraq self-rule target the men and women who would provide security for their own country (92 killed in multiple attacks in Iraq.)

If the media (and Michael Moore) weren't so obsessed with their Bush-hatred, maybe they would see, as I do, that those Iraqis who are signing up to become part of and defend the new Iraq are the true inheritors of the Minutemen legacy.

Posted by Debbye at 07:52 PM | Comments (4)

June 23, 2004

Rumsfeld memo on "torture"

June 23 - Via Instapundit, it seems that Rumsfeld has been vindicated, but will this receive as much coverage as the accusations? This post at Captain's Quarters links to a CNN report which, after giving full coverage to those who cannot conceive that the wrongdoers at Abu Ghraib prison might have exercised free will in their misconduct, admits that their unnamed informant has changed the story as to what was and what was not approved by the Pentagon:

Meanwhile, a source told CNN that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld never approved a controversial interrogation technique called "water boarding." That source had told CNN the opposite Monday.
Once again, I have to go on trust that there ever was a source who had access to actual information as opposed to scuttlebutt.
The senior defense official who provided the original information to CNN now says Rumsfeld only approved "mild, noninjurious physical contact" with a high-level al Qaeda detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and specifically did not approve a request to use water boarding.

The tactic involves strapping a prisoner down and immersing him in water to make the subject feel as though he is drowning.

The documents released Tuesday, as described by administration officials, help to show what ideas were discussed versus what was actually rubber-stamped by the White House in terms of the legal limits of interrogation.

"We want to drive home what was approved and what was speculated about. It is a distinction that has been lost," one official told CNN.

There has long been discussion on the internet about the use of torture should a pending terrorist attack involve biological or radioactive agencies, and it shouldn't be startling that people in the Pentagon have had similar discussions. We expect them to explore all options even when the decision is likely to be negative on most of them.
Senior administration officials say there were a lot of "academic" musings or "opinion" memos written after the terrorist attacks about how to apply interrogation laws and rules to the war on terrorism.

One official said it was "uncharted territory," and people at various agencies were trying to figure out how to deal with its legalities.

So what was approved?
Mild, noninjurious physical contact such as grabbing someone's arm, poking them in the chest or light shoving.
Read the post at Captain's Quarters, and follow the links.

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 AM | Comments (2)

June 22, 2004

Kim Sun-il beheaded

June 22 - Heartbreaking news: South Korean hostage beheaded.

One question: have we come to the point where we can be as anguished about this young man as we were about American hostages who have met the same fate?

I hope so. Terrorism is an attack on all free people, and until we realize that, we won't be truly engaged in fighting it.

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 PM | Comments (2)

June 19, 2004

Airstrike in Fallujah

June 19 - CNN Breaking News Alert atop the page at this moment reads Coalition says it destroyed a safehouse used by alleged terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network in Fallujah, Iraq. Details soon.

Do you suppose the breaking news has any connection to this story: Hospital: 17 Iraqis killed in Fallujah airstrike?

Posted by Debbye at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Iraq terror ties in Canada?

June 18 - This is interesting: 3 in Iraq smuggle scam: RCMP concerns the smuggling of car parts into Iraq that were said to be meant for use by Saddamites. Three men from southern Ontario, Salah Abdul Sahib, 44, of Leamington, Munther Yacoub, 55, of Windsor, and Vincent Lewis, 56, of Waterloo, have been charged with smuggling money, car tires and car batteries to Iraq via third countries.

Three southern Ontario men face 296 charges of violating 100 Customs regulations and UN statutes. Three trading companies were also charged.

The Mounties said from 2000 to 2003 some 29,000 tires, worth $800,000, were placed in containers and shipped from Toronto to Baghdad, via Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Large sums of U.S. currency were allegedly transferred from Canada to Iraq, in contravention of United Nations regulations, Yen said.

The math is definitely off:
Eleven containers of household goods and foods worth about $118,000 were imported for sale here, police said.

The sale to Iraq of 13 containers of tires from China, worth $444,000, and one of batteries from South Korea, worth $26,000, were arranged from Canada, Yen said.

RCMP Const. Annette Bernardon said most of the tires were shipped to Iraq through Toronto's port. "We don't know where they went once they ended up in Iraq. They could have gone anywhere."

It's unclear from the article if the accused men were running a black market operation for the money or because they actively support Saddam (or, as he's in jail, something else? The Ba'athists in Fallujah, or al Zarqawi, maybe?) but if they imported $118,00 worth of goods and exported over $470,000 worth of goods plus $800,000 worth of tires in addition to the "large sums of" US dollars said to be transferred from Canada to Iraq then there is much more going on than is being stated.

Since the hunt is ongoing for Saddam's pilfered Oil-for-Food funds, though, the operation could well have been conducted on his behalf.

The three trading companies that were also charged are Leamington International Foods and Salco Import and Export, co-owned by Sahib and Yacoub, and Treadway Exports.

Posted by Debbye at 07:08 AM | Comments (1)

Russian advised USA of terror attack plans by Saddam

June 18 - Russia 'warned U.S. about Saddam' - admittedly slightly old news to most people but it suggests so many things without much in the way of clues. Roger L. Simon's analytical skills make his post on the subject far more interesting than my idle speculation, though.

There's also a persistent refrain running in my head ... Chechnya, Chechnya which must factor in somehow.

Posted by Debbye at 01:25 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2004

Towards a sovereign Iraq

June 15 - I'm a pretty patient person (although it's more an acquired skill learnt from child raising than innate) so the setbacks in turning Iraq into Connecticut (per Mark Steyn) haven't given me the vapours or anything.

On the other hand, given the concerns as to when the Iraqi army will be ready to assert itself have been nicely countered with this article in National Review by W. Thomas Smith Jr., Iraq Soldiers Save U.S. Marine:

On the evening of May 30, 2004, Jassim and his fellow members of 4th Platoon, India Company, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) were jointly patrolling the streets of Al Karmah, near Fallujah, with leathernecks from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. All at once, the patrol was ambushed from the rear by enemy insurgents. A U.S. Marine was instantly struck down with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Reacting as they had been trained to do by their U.S. counterparts, the Iraqis swung into action.

Jassim, who was standing closest to the Marine when the latter was hit, immediately returned fire.

Read the whole thing. As is noted, this was not as isolated incident.

I've used the term "Iraqi confidence" over the last year to define the one, essential ingredient that the Iraqis will need to build a nation of their people, by their people and for their people. That won't be accomplished by empty flattery or patronizing NY Times editorials but by deeds: Iraqis seeing on a daily basis their energy and creativity released to reveal the truly astonishing people that dictatorships try so vainly to repress.

Never doubt the mission. It's Operation: Iraqi Freedom and we are only the midwives.

Posted by Debbye at 07:52 PM | Comments (3)

June 12, 2004

The feckless UN in Iraq, Serbia and Iran

June 12 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK) comes a report on Danish UN aid worker Michael Soussan who, in his testimony before a US Congressional probe into UNSCAM, blasted the UN's 'shameful silence' over the evils of Saddam:

To Mr Soussan's dismay, the most vocal critics worked alongside him at the UN. The genocide charge was levelled by an assistant secretary general in charge of humanitarian work in Iraq.

His colleagues blamed the Security Council - especially the United States and Britain - for the suffering of Iraqis, ignoring evidence that Saddam was stealing food from his own people's mouths.

They could hardly ignore the wickedness of Saddam's regime. Foreign UN staff could sense the terror in Iraqis they met, and saw for themselves the gilded excesses of the Ba'athist elite.

But somehow that wickedness was taken as a given, then promptly smothered in a warm soup of moral relativism.

"We have a notion of sovereignty at the UN that doesn't distinguish between governments that deserve sovereignty and those that do not. And that really skews our moral compass," Mr Soussan told The Telegraph.

"[My colleagues] devoted most of their moral outrage towards the United States and the UK," he said. (Emphasis added)

Can we say "easy targets?" Of course we can. And anyone who defends the USA will be accused of being brainwashed, bought-off, racist, or, worst of all, defying the international community. Small wonder these bureaucrats took the easy road even if they knew it was a lie. But that's not moral equivalence, that's just plain immoral.
Mr Soussan does not deny the pain caused by sanctions from the first Gulf war in 1991 to 1996, before oil-for-food sales began. A quarter of a million children died, by conservative estimates.

But during those five years, it was Saddam who refused offers to sell his oil and import humanitarian goods under UN supervision. "[He was] banking that images of dying babies would eventually force the international community to lift the sanctions altogether," Mr Soussan told Congress.

By 2000, there was no limit on the amount of oil Saddam was allowed to sell, and few limits on the civilian goods he was allowed to buy.

Iraq was under sanctions only "to the extent that they couldn't import military goods", he said.

Yet still Saddam claimed sanctions were killing 5,000 infants a month, parading tiny coffins in the streets to ram the point home. "The UN did not stand up to this propaganda. It cowered in the face of this notion that the sanctions were killing Iraqi babies," Mr Soussan said. (Emphasis added)

One of Osama bin Laden's justifications for declaring jihad on the USA was that we were responsible for the murder of Iraqi babies, something that has yet to be properly refuted in the international, and, more importantly, the Arab press.

The failure of the U.N. to take responsiblilty and tell the truth is responsible for much of the hatred of the world towards the USA, but we are supposed to "take it" for the good of an international community which has no values, no morals, but does have some dandy committees.

Iraqi babies no longer die due to malnutrition, watered-down drugs, expired pharmaceuticals and lack of equipment in medical facilities, but that fact has nothing to do with the U.N. and everything to do with action that was condemned by the U.N.

UN staff did not speak out when Saddam refused to buy high protein foods recommended by UN experts, or spent oil-for-food millions on sports stadiums, or broadcasting equipment for his propaganda machine.

The UN turned a blind eye to signs that Saddam was bribing cronies at home and abroad with black market oil vouchers, and was skimming billions from funds meant for food and medicine, demanding secret, 10 per cent "kickbacks" on humanitarian contracts.

The UN recently claimed it "learned of the 10 per cent kickback scheme only after the end of major combat operations" in 2003.

A lie, said Mr Soussan, recalling the hapless Swedish company that called in 2000, seeking UN help after being asked to pay kickbacks. The Swedes' plea was quickly lost in red tape and inter-office turf wars. After a "Kafka-esque" flurry of internal memos, the Swedes were told to complain to their own government.

So much for that which some call international law which is used as a club to beat upon democratic countries like the USA but not Ghana, Sudan or Congo.
Now top UN officials are under investigation. Mr Soussan hopes the shock will force a major debate on how to deal with rogue regimes.

"The oil-for-food programme was a deal with the devil. The problem is, that we didn't act as if this was the devil, we acted as if this was a legitimate regime," he said.

Again, that's not moral equivalence, that's outright immorality. At long last, the USA, Great Britain and other members of the coalition didn't deal with the devil, we removed him from power. Isn't that what moral people do when they confront evil?
If such major questions have to wait, a little more transparency would help, for starters.

"If the UN had just stood up once, held a high-level press conference, and said, 'We think the Iraqi government is cheating its people', then the UN would not be in the mess it is now," he said. "It would then be an accuser, rather than the accused." (Emphasis added)

The U.N. just can't catch a break this week, as it's failure in Serbia has been pushed back to the fore with the admission by Serbian officials that the Srebrenica massacre was carried out by Serbian security officials which in turn stimulated the memory of the failure of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers to protect those who appealed to them for help at the U.N. compound, a failure for which the Dutch government at the time apologized and then resigned.

Iran is piling on: they have rejected any further restrictions on their weapon programs and demands to be recognized as a nuclear power:

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi accused France, Britain and Germany -- who have drawn up a tough new document that accuses Iran of not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency -- of bowing to pressure from the United States.
See what I mean? Iran, which is known for its violation of human rights and a known sponsor of terror, need only pull the anti-US card and millions of progressive, peaceloving people will line up to defend Iran's right to terrorize the world - and Israel - with a nuclear holocaust.

Some of those nuts live in the United States. One of those nuts in running for president: Senator John Kerry, who actually believes that we can pursue detente with North Korea and Iran as we attempted with the Soviet Union.

President Reagan's final gift to the USA may have been the timing of his death which not only coincided with D-Day, a major military offensive in the fight against fascism, but also led to the recollection that he defeated communism by his firm resolve to stand up to the Soviet Union and match them missile for missile rather than meekly pretending they were anything less than evil.

Detente failed. Unyielding principles won, and we were dealing with comparatively sane people in the Soviet Union. Would anyone dare to make the same claims about the North Korean or Iranian governments?

Canadians who are pretending to be terrified of social conservatives coming to power in Canada would, if they were honest, be lying prostrate on the floor in a cold faint at the mere thought of Iranian social conservatives but they aren't because it's all about the propaganda, not the reality.

Posted by Debbye at 05:39 PM | Comments (4)

Bassam Salih Kubba assassinated

June 12 - One of Iraq's four deputy deputy ministers, Bassam Salih Kubba, has been assassinated.

Posted by Debbye at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2004

The Russian and American presidents

June 11 - It seems like a lifetime ago when President Bush said that he had looked into Russian President Putin's eyes and "seen his soul." The press mocked that assessment (of course) but one of the things we've learnt about President Bush that when he tosses out comments like that one it is wise to shut up, pay attention, and see what transpires over the long run.

Russia was opposed to the Iraq War, but at least they were consistent: they also opposed the NATO bombing of Kosovo. (Consistency may be the mark of small minds, but inconsistency is often an indication of opportunism.)

There are still some open questions about Russian involvement in Saddamite Iraq including the final days before the fall of Baghdad, but if the Bush administration chose to see how much rope the Russians might require, it seemed that the length was short the amount they needed to hang themselves and we have been able to maintain cordial relations with Russia.

Actually, relations between the USA and Russia seem the best possible between two sovereign nations: we disagree, but do so agreeably; Russia pursues courses in her best interests, we pursue ours; we didn't ratify Kyoto, and neither did they.

In short, both countries are behaving like adults without the burden of control freakery that seems to consume some of our other allies.

Whereas the foreign leaders who are said to prefer a Kerry presidency choose to remain hidden, the Russian leader has come as close as is proper to publicly taking a stand and does so consistent with his opposition to the war in Iraq: Putin Takes Bush's Side Against Democrats on Iraq saying

"I am deeply convinced that President Bush's political adversaries have no moral right to attack him over Iraq because they did exactly the same.

"It suffices to recall Yugoslavia. Now look at them. They don't like what President Bush is doing in Iraq."

He could have openly criticized the French, Germans and Belgians for the same cause, but I'll do that for him by pointing out that they (and Canada under Chretien) also supported military intervention in Kosovo despite the lack of a U.N. mandate.

(Link via Let It Bleed. I found while my post fermented that Kate at the Western Standard blog, the Shotgun, has also picked up the story from the Reuters link from which the Yahoo article was taken.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:53 AM | Comments (2)

June 09, 2004

Six coalition soldiers KIA

June 9 - The deaths of 6 coaltion soliders, which yesterday had been thought to be accidental, have turned out to have been caused by mortar attacks (6 European soldiers were killed in Iraq attack):

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An attack by insurgents caused the deaths of the six eastern European soldiers working in a demining operation, officials said Wednesday.

Officials initially had said the deaths were caused by an accidental explosion.

Three Slovaks, two Poles and one Latvian died in Tuesday's attack, according to Polish Maj. Slawomir Walenczykowski. The soldiers were killed near As Suwayrah, south of Baghdad.

Lt. Col. Robert Strzlecki said four mortar rounds were fired, including one that struck an ammunition depot the coalition forces used for demining purposes. Artillery shells and other ammunition exploded in the attack.

Remember that we are not alone in Iraq and are supported by countries for whom liberty is new and sweet, and that their freedom, in an odd twist of historical timing, is part of Reagan's legacy.

Posted by Debbye at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2004

Iraq sovereignty a fait accompli II

June 8 - I'm torn between being thrilled for the Iraqi people and wanting to say "duh" (Unanimous U.N. Approval of Iraq Plan.)

There are a few wrinkles according to some of the quotes from member nations of the UNSC in the article, yet none of those wrinkles seem to have been supported by modifications to the resolution and can be dismissed as empty rhetoric.

Despite the victory, four members of the G-8 summit -- France, Germany, Russia and Canada -- have said they won't send troops.
Canada has no troops she can commit, and given the Russian deployment in Chechnya I doubt it would be advisable to bring Russian troops in. As for France, well, there's that accordian on a deer hunt meme ...

I saw a clip on MSNBC with Pres. Bush and PM Martin in which the President mentioned soft wood lumber and Canada's contribution to the war on terror. Martin reiterated Canadian support of the US war on terror.

The President also said that Canada is strongly cooperating on finding ways to cooperate, which I read to mean that Canada continues to prefer cooperating quietly and without public awareness. The Liberal Party has put themselves in an increasingly awkward situation. Lord help them if there should be a terrorist attack here before the elections. The mood has changed, the Tories have pulled ahead in the polls, and Paul Martin may be the only Canadian who remains oblivious to that fact.

Hubris. Martin and the Liberal Party can look it up.

The original draft is here (heh, with "spelling appearing to follow British usage." Sometimes Fox coverage is somewhat embarrassing.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:17 PM | Comments (1)

Hostages in Iraq rescued

June 8 - Some more good news: Four Foreign Hostages Freed in Iraq. Three Italians and a Pole held captive in Iraq by the Green Brigade have been rescued by US Special Forces. Individuals have been detained but there is no information on their identities or nationalities.

The DoD release states the rescued men were Salvatore Stefio, Umberto Cupertino and Maurizio Agliana of Italy, and Jerzy Kos of Poland.

The three Italians had been kidnapped April 12 along with Fabrizio Quattrocchi, who's incredible display of courage and defiance toward his murderers remains a source of inspiration.

Posted by Debbye at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2004

Zarqawi associate captured

June 4 - Umar Baziyani, described as an associate of Zarqawi, was been captured by Iraqi police forces. He has been in custody since May 30.

Posted by Debbye at 08:18 PM | Comments (2)

June 03, 2004

Bush at the Air Force Academy

June 3 - The text of the President's speech yesterday to the graduates of the Air Force Academy is here.

Just as events in Europe determined the outcome of the Cold War, events in the Middle East will set the course of our current struggle. If that region is abandoned to dictators and terrorists, it will be a constant source of violence andd alarm, exporting killers of increasing destructive power to attack America and other free nations. If that region grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits, and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business. The stakes of this struggle are high. The security and peace of our country are at stake, and success in this struggle is our only option.
Those who believe Operation Iraqi Freedom is not connected to the War on Terror overlook the fact that there is one root cause of terrorism which we can address and help change, that being the repression and tyranny of Arab states which stifle the creative energy of millions of men and women who, like most of us, desire nothing more than to live, work and raise their families without fear and with hopes of a better tomorrow.

Lest we forget, the Iraqi people have also suffered from the bombs of Zarqawi and his associates as have our soldiers and civilian contractors, and our partnership with the Iraqi people has been forged in blood and perseverence.

Read the whole speech. There's been a lot of events in Iraq since the war first began, but the mission remains the same: Iraqi Freedom.

Posted by Debbye at 06:53 PM | Comments (1)

Iraq sovereignty a fait accompli

June 3 - From David Warren, A sovereign Iraq. I'm not going to reiterate the points he makes indicating that the transfer of power has already taken place because my joy is contained herein:

Real praise ought to be showered on the Iraqis. This new political class -- consisting of returned Sunni and Shia exiles, Kurds, tribal lords, Shia clerical henchmen, and the odd, semi-halal, Baath-party "technocrat", has proved capable of forming workable coalitions whenever something has had to be achieved. If you read your history of American constitutional wranglings in the 18th-century, you will appreciate how far they came in how little time.
Is all this very fragile and tentative? Yes, but ... Can a lot go wrong? Yes, but ... To all doubters and naysayers, yes and yes, but and but!

Those of us who supported Operation Iraqi Freedom chose to believe that there was no logical reason Iraq could not be a country run by consensual government that respected human rights.

There will be a great many twists and turns during the implementation of this new style of Mid-east rule, but I'm willing to go on faith rather than cynicism.

Back home, the upcoming presidential election in the USA will, sadly, produce more politicking than honest evaluation of this incredible leap, but in the long term, that won't detract from the victory which rightly belongs to Iraqis.

As always, read Zeyad, Omar, Sam for their insights.

19:15: Grand Ayatollah Sistani has endorsed the new Iraqi government.

Posted by Debbye at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2004

Mark Steyn on Memorial Day

May 30 - The great one marks Memorial Day by pointing to the ubiquitous victimology that dominates our senile Old Media and elites in Recalling a time when setbacks didn't deter us recalling the turmoil of the Civil War:

But that's the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screwups worth re-examining, but they weren't a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn't lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.

There is something not just ridiculous but unbecoming about a hyperpower 300 million strong whose elites -- from the deranged former vice president down -- want the outcome of a war, and the fate of a nation, to hinge on one freaky jailhouse; elites who are willing to pay any price, bear any burden, as long as it's pain-free, squeaky clean and over in a week. The sheer silliness dishonors the memory of all those we're supposed to be remembering this Memorial Day.

There's another difference too: after the Civil War, it was the victors who "waved the bloody shirt" in order to justify the imposition of harsh conditions on the defeated South. It became as tiresome and a sure sign of hypocrisy as, well, "it's for the children."

Today it's those opposed to the war who wave the bloody shirt, presumably to prove they support the troops although they oppose the mission, and they too have become tiresome.

I'm a little out of the newsloop. Every time I turned on CNN we were back to old photos out of Abu Ghraib with a brief foray which tried to depict disgraced Gen. Kapinski as a victim or attempts to paint the situation in Najaf as failed negotiations even as they report the numbers of more dead al Mehdi thugs. Evidently Old Media failed to draw some lessons about strategy from events at Fallujah. As for Fallujah, it's off the map now, which tells me things are going according to plan.

CNN dutifully reported on the discovery of more sarin and mustard gas but the commentator (David Ensor, I think?) said that they were old, pre-Gulf War I, but still "technically" WMD. Usually the death-quoted "technically" is followed by an explanation of what something "really" is, but the pundit left it there. Nice spin. Do "old" WMD not indicate the violation of the ceasefire agreement that halted Gulf War I and several subsequent UN resolutions? Do "old" WMD not kill?

The goal posts were moved after Dr. Kay's report which said that although they had not found stockpiles of WMD they had found active weapons programs and numerous violations of the ceasefire and UN resolutions.

Now it seems nothing will do but finding a huge cache of WMD with a sign that says "Saddam's Personal Stash."

I'm still an unreconstructed optimist: every dead Medhi fighter is one more reason to be optimistic about the June 30 handover. Iran's withdrawal of support for Muqtada al Sadr is another reason to be optimistic.

The question in November is becoming, increasingly, the extent to which the American public can read past the propaganda and spin put out by Old Media and use their common sense.

Posted by Debbye at 01:11 PM | Comments (3)

May 26, 2004

Fix Bayonets

May 26 - Ghost of a Flea sent me this link to a Steyn column in the Chicago Sun-Times, Don't give Iraqis self-rule all at once.

Mark refers to events from a Sun (UK) leader (since expired) (UPDATE: link to article in the Scotsman on the engagement here) which Flea had referred to here about a group of Argyll and Sutherland highlanders who fixed bayonets and charged after coming under fire in Amara.

As always, Mark gets it:

If you're used to smart bombs, unmanned drones and doing it all by computer back at HQ, you're probably wondering why a modern Western army is still running around with bayonets at the end of their rifles. The answer is that it's a very basic form of psychological warfare.

''If you're defending a position and you see someone advancing with a bayonet, you may be more inclined to surrender,'' Col. Ed Brown told the British newspaper the Guardian. ''I've never been bayoneted, but I can imagine it's pretty gruesome.''

Resolve in battle and politics means using all the tools in your box.

Of course, the column is about more than the use of a bayonet charge in modern warfare (it is Steyn, after all) and looks at something very basic to the future of Iraq:

There are some 8,000 towns and villages in the country. How many do you hear about on the news? For a week, it's all Fallujah all the time. Then it's Najaf, and nada for anywhere else. Currently, 90 percent of Iraqi coverage is about one lousy building: Abu Ghraib. So what's going on in the other 7,997 dots on the map?
The "news we trust" is curiously silent on that point, but probably because it's hard to report much news when one's views are filtered through a poolside perch in the Palestine Hotel.
In the Shia province of Dhi Qar, a couple hundred miles southeast of Baghdad, 16 of the biggest 20 cities plus many smaller towns will have elected councils by June. These were the first free elections in Dhi Qar's history and ''in almost every case, secular independents and representatives of nonreligious parties did better than the Islamists.'' That assessment is from the anti-war anti-Bush anti-Blair Euro-lefties at the Guardian, by the way.
President Bush made much the same point in his speech Monday night (see Towards a Free Iraq below) and the theme is the same: grass roots democracy is the well-spring from which consensual government is nourished and protected.
The best bulwark against tyranny is a population that knows the benefits of freedom, as the Iraqi Kurds do. Don't make the mistake of turning Iraq into a dysfunctional American public school, where the smart guys get held down to the low standards of the misfits and in the end they all get the same social promotion anyway. Let's get on with giving the Kurdish and Shia areas elected governors and practical sovereignty, province by province.

And then fix bayonets and stick it to the holdouts.

Posted by Debbye at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

Towards a free Iraq

May 26 - Monday night, President Bush made the first in a series of speeches in which he will lay out plans for implementing the goals of Operation Iraq Freedom, the role we are playing, and the steps to transfer power to the Iraqi people (Troops Are in Iraq to Make It Free.) The text of the speech is available here.

Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all -- to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America's task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend — a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done.
The president laid out five steps for achieving this goal. The first is the transfer of power to Iraqis. U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will be working with Iraqis to set up an interim council including a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Prime Minister, and 26 Ministers. 12 government ministries are already under the control of Iraqis.
All along, some have questioned whether the Iraqi people are ready for self-government, or even want it. And all along, the Iraqi people have given their answer. In settings where Iraqis have met to discuss their country's future, they have endorsed representative government. And they are practicing representative government. Many of Iraq's cities and towns now have elected town councils or city governments - and beyond the violence, a civil society is emerging.
The foundation for a free society comes from the bottom - grass roots democracy - and establishing Iraqi control over local, day-to-day government is what will build the confidence of Iraqis that they can take control of their country and build it for the betterment of their and their children's futures.

The second step is to establish security and stability. I think that is the most difficult and most exciting of the tasks at hand, because implementing that step will ultimately involve a transfer of power as well, although it now takes the shape of partnership, itself a signficant if risky endeavour. Referring to the steps taken in response to events at Fallujah:

We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country's enemies. We want the Iraqi people to know that we trust their growing capabilities, even as we help build them. At the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy, and those responsible for terrorism will be held to account.
Somebody referred to the failed uprisings fomented by the Sunnis and Muqtada al-Sadr as "the dog that didn't bark," referring to the things that haven't happened as more indicative of the state of affairs in Iraq than those things that have happened and which have been reported.

The Sunnis have not revolted in significant numbers. Shi'as have not joined Muqtada al-Sadr. The indignation over Abu Ghraib has been exploited everywhere but with noticeable silence from Iraq itself.

Only the future will be able to adequately judge the steps taken by the US and her allies to establish consensual government in a Mid-east country. I doubt the debate will end soon, but I remain committed to the cause.

Read the president's speech and judge for yourself. As we have said so often, the ability to read the documents ourselves rather than rely on the filter of others is one of the most exciting gifts of the internet.

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (1)

May 22, 2004


May 22

Honor and shame trump everything in that world. A pithy sentence, eh? So instead, think about what it would take for you to kill your own daughter with a knife, with your bare hands, because she was seen in the company of a man not her husband or a relative? Think about that. Think long and hard.
What would it take for you to murder your daughter with a knife, or a knotted cord – with your own two hands and against her pleading, her protestations, and her begging for her life? If your response wasn’t “there is nothing that could make me do that,” then stop reading right here and get the hell off my property.
From Bill Whittle's latest essay, Strength, (part 1). (part 2 is here.)
Posted by Debbye at 10:52 PM | Comments (3)

May 21, 2004

The New Reactionaries

May 21 - Roger Simon, in The New Reactionaries, comments on his conclusions after reading Congress, Media Could Talk U.S. Into Iraq Defeat

Meanwhile, the Zarqawis of the world are winning this war. And I can promise you one thing -- it's a lot more important than George W. Bush, John Kerry, anybody in Congress and the Media and any one single person. It's about civilization versus a death cult. Make a choice!

More on the role of the media: this Glenn Reynolds post on some poll results which indicate dissatisfaction with Old Media is becoming more widespread, and Donald Sensing has Duelling Biases and some fed-up Marine Moms who I wouldn't want to tangle with.

Posted by Debbye at 11:43 PM | Comments (1)

Raid on Chalabi's House

May 21 - Much has been made of the raid on Chalabi's house yesterday (U.S. mililtary raids Chalabi's home, with more here and here) but there was also this CPA briefing.

People will believe what they chose to believe, but I have more faith in real people (with names) than the all too prevalent "sources" that dominate much of reporting these days. An excerpt from that CPA briefing:

Q: Owen Fay, Fox News. Dan, Ahmed Chalabi has just given a press conference in which he said that at least some of the documents seized today were related to the oil-for-food investigation. Could you tell us the primary thrust of the reason behind this raid and how significant a role the oil-for-food is playing?

MR. SENOR: I would refer you to the Iraqi police on that issue. My understanding is they are the ones who seized any documents. It was an Iraqi-led investigation, it was an Iraqi-led raid. It was the result of Iraqi arrest warrants.

The briefing also explains the relationship between the Iraqi police, investigations, and at what point Bremer takes a role.

In today's CPA briefing, Senor said

There was some news reporting last night that in the Iraqi police investigation -- sorry, in the Iraqi police operation yesterday morning, there were officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency involved in the operation. I just want to categorically deny that that occurred. There were no officials from the CIA, there were no officials from the FBI involved in the Iraqi police investigation. I just was hoping to clear that up today. I don't know if it was misreporting or misinformation, but whatever it was, it was incorrect.
And during the questions, this:
Q: Dan, which government agency or which government contract did the American plainclothes civilians, who were armed, who accompanied the soldiers, work for -- in the Chalabi raid?

MR. SENOR: They were -- sure. Well, first, let me say that there were no officials from the Central Intelligence Agency. There were no officials there from the Federal Bureau of Investigations. There were no Defense Intelligence Agency officials there. There were private contractors who work for the Ministry of Interior. And their job is primarily -- my understanding is, their job is the professionalization of the Iraqi police service. So they were there to observe and advise the Iraqi police during this operation, as they do on numerous operations. They are the only non-Iraqis, to my understanding, that were there.

There was one woman, an -- who was American, who identified herself as an employee of the Iraqi National Congress, who was there when the police service arrived on the scene.

GEN. KIMMITT: And Dexter, you said, escorted the "soldiers." I know you meant the Iraqi police.

There were U.S. soldiers that were involved in the outer cordon. The only purpose in this operation was that if there was any collateral violence that was associated with this, with their responsibility to maintain a safe and secure environment throughout Baghdad, that's what they were there for. But, however, the actual police operation was one conducted by the Iraqi police.

David Frum has an post on the Chalabi raid and, in fact, Chalabi himself here.

He nails the underlying issue:

It is puzzling to me that the same people who refuse to believe the US government when it says its forces hit a terrorist safe house, not a wedding partner, are all credulity when anonymous sources inside that same government declare that Ahmed Chalabi is the center of a vast sinister conspiracy.
David Frum makes a number of sensible points about all the rumours and unknowns that dominate this story, including those that the raid was connected to seizing documents that related to the Oil-for-Food (UNSCAM) investigation.

I think I'll wait until I actually know something before I pass judgement.

May 22 - 00:02: More thoughts from Adam Daifallah vis this Shotgun post, Roger Simon, and Stephen at Friends of Saddam.

Posted by Debbye at 06:45 PM | Comments (1)

May 20, 2004

Australia (Football) Rules

Mah 20 - Ozguru is liable if my fall off my chair resulted in any injury ... he's got two posts that require Hazard to Your Gravity warnings: Insufficient Corruption and Real Footy.

I've seen those men in the white suits on the rare airing of Australian football. It's freaking surreal.

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2004

Zerbisias vs. Bloggers and a sad announcement

May 19 - Blog readers are probably aware of some shots exchanged between Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias and some noted bloggers, including Damian Penny, James Lileks and Kathy Shaidle.

Damian led off with his reponse and links to other responses in Welcome Toronto Star readers, Antoniapalooza! and More Zerb Reaction (including links to James Lilek's and Bob Tarantino's reponses.)

Today, the Star published Damian's response in their Letter's to the Editor with an edit; see Damian's The Missing Scare Quotes.

I hesitated to comment on this because on one level - a level that Zerbisias should be ashamed to occupy - the woman has a point: bloggers who support Operation Iraq Freedom are less happy than we could be. The deaths that have happened this spring have hurt us. How fortunate for Zerbisias that she can sidestep that to rejoice in our grief.

We started with optimism as the new Iraq Constitution was presented only to shock when over 178 Shi'ias were killed, 140 killed in the bombing attacks of the Ashura religious processionals in Iraq and 38 in Pakistan.

Iraqi and soldier bloggers have made news of terrorist attacks very personal for us. That is one of the joys of the blogosphere, but one of the drawbacks: someone you know may be among the wounded or dead.

Does she know that there were insurrections in parts of Iran following the rigged elections there? Or that International Women's Day Marches were attacked by security forces in Iran?

Crackdowns in Iran matter to people who know that Iranian bloggers are in constant danger of exposure and arrest. Zerb, of course, doesn't have that kind of worry gnawing at her.

How about the March 11 terrorist attack in Madrid? Not a real happy event. There were also attacks in Kosovo, Israel, the Hotel Lebanon in Baghdad was bombed killing over 20 people, and the Kurds in Syria had an uprising too that was harshly put down.

A wave of anti-Semitic acts swept the Toronto area beginning that month. That didn't make me happy either, nor did the fire-bombing of a Montreal school.

Canadian Andy Bradsell was killed, as was blogger Bob Zangas and the Men of Fallujah. Fallujah was brought under control with persistence and US military deaths. I felt gratitude and humility, but not joy.

The disgraceful conduct of some soldiers at the Abu Graib prison didn't make me happy nor did the murder of Nick Berg.

Maybe we aren't happy, Zerb, because we actually care about what we read. We care about the deaths of innocents. We don't have your capacity to rejoice when innocent people die because we see things differently: you want President Bush to be proven wrong, and we want to see the end of this scourge called terrorism.

You want President Bush to be proven wrong, and we want to see Iraq take its place as a free country that can confidently take its place in the world and be a beacon of hope for Arabs.

Most of all, our focus isn't about being right, it's about trying to get it right. But then history won't judge you at all, because you won't rate a mention.

I'm bringing all this up now because another member of the blogosphere has had a death in her family. Via Wizbang, Gennie of Dizzy Girl lost her nephew in Iraq. He was a Marine who was hit by shrapnel while handing out candy and frisbee to some Iraqi kids. Read that again, and realize that the kids were present.

He was a hero, and he exemplifies everything that is right about US soldiers and our mission in Iraq.

It's so hard to write about this. It's so hard to log onto a soldier's blog, or a blog from Iraq, or a blog from Iran, and note that he or she hasn't posted for a couple of days and not be afraid for them.

The war has a personal face for most of us, and it isn't fun or happy. But for some reason, we manage to keep posting. And we manage to do it with a lot more class, restraint and compassion that anything you churn out.

Posted by Debbye at 03:30 PM | Comments (5)

Belmont Club, the DoD, Blackfile and Mudville Gazette

May 19 - One of my first daily reads is Belmont Club. (Sometimes I have to hit the refresh button to get the site to load properly, danged blogger, but it's worth it.)

Then I go to the Defend America website and read incredibly important announcements like this one and then back to Belmont Club later after in the day to see if Wretchard analyzes it.

Dod and Wretchard have a lot in common: they are both concise and have to be read more than once to get the full impact.

Look, I'm a product of the 60's. It feels weird to me to trust things coming out of Department of Defense too, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and DoD has been consistently correct.

Should I trust Old Media, who have a poor track record, or DoD, who has a good track record?

So common sense compells me to drop old prejudices.

Back to Belmont, Wretchard is indispensable to anyone who wants to understand what the military is doing in Iraq.

Why? Because of little things like the three posts: "Magnolias by the Euphrates," "Magnolias by the Euphrates II," and the "Last Magnolias by the Euphrates." (Permalinks messed up, so maybe you should just go to the end of the page and scroll up.)

Because Wretchard saw and commented on the containment and constriction strategy in Fallujah.

Because Wretchard saw the partnership with the Iraq political and religious leadership in the isolation of Muqtada al-Sadr.

We are approaching the anniversary of D-Day, which by the way was a Major Military Operation.

Old Media doesn't understand military strategy or war. CNN can parade generals who have too much common sense to reveal what they think is going on or idiots who failed to recognize that OIF was a ground campaign so kept fretting that the air assault hadn't happened.

I have to go to work, but I got some real sleep yesterday and will be able to post and catch up on my correspondence (with many apologies to those to whom I owe letters.)

By the way, other daily reads are Blackfive and Greyhawk.

See this from Blackfive and consider the full implications.

Maybe that post illustrates best why I have so much faith in our mission in Iraq. Remember, it's named "Operation: Iraqi Freedom."

God bless America, and always honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 04:30 AM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2004

He's baaack!

May 17 - Paul's back! He's re-invigorated! He had a vacation! (and I didn't.) I better stop before I get really mad at him ...

He's got two eye-popping posts already:
Syrians and equipment involved in North Korea train wreck, which puts me in mind of the $10 million Saddam spent via Syrian intermediaries for SCUD missiles,

and something we should be hearing a lot more about in Roadside bomb in Iraq contained Sarin (but don't hold your breath - CNN is still leading with prisoner abuse stories.) Here is the DoD press release on the subject.

Paul makes reference to sending a dead crow to Hans Blix, which went right over my head ...

(Cut me some slack - I'm still waking up. There are downsides to working the graveyard shift, but one of them has got to be switching and being at work tomorrow at 6 a.m. I can't help wondering if I'd improve my chances by just staying awake all night - I could do that sort of thing a couple of decades ago ...)

May 18 - 13:40: Ozguru expresses his welcome back and then some!

Posted by Debbye at 02:56 PM | Comments (4)

Current President of Iraqi Governing Council killed in car bomb

May 17 -

16:51 CNN is announcing a new president for the Iraqi Governing Council has been sworn in (same link as the earlier one):

A civil engineer from the northern city of Mosul was sworn in Monday to replace the assassinated leader of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

The council selected Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar as president ...

15:32 Burnside has a good round-up of other posts on the assasination here.

04:46: The BBC story is here.

04:27:Car bomb kills Iraqi Governing Council leader:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The current president of the Iraqi Governing Council was among several people killed Monday by a car bomb near Baghdad's Green Zone, a senior coalition military official said.

According to Iraqi Governing Council sources, council President Izzedine Salim was on his way into the Green Zone, which houses coalition headquarters, when he was killed.

The time stamp on this CNN page is 4:15, so the contents for the link will probably change as more information is forthcoming. Gen. Kimmet is speaking on CNN right now and says that Bremer is with other IGC members at this time.

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 AM | Comments (1)

May 16, 2004

The Berg Phenomenon

May 16 - The U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, spoke out on something that, I suspect, is in many hearts and minds: Arab world should be more outraged about the murder of Nick Berg. During an interview on Meet the Press,

"There's no excuse for silence on this kind of murder," Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I would like to have seen a much higher level of outrage throughout the world, but especially in the Arab world, to this murder," he said.

"What we saw with this horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible murder should be deplored throughout the Arab world."

As noted earlier this week, there were condemnations from three nations - Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates - but that mostly highlights the silence from other nations as well as clerics, imams, intellectuals, and newspapers.

Many bloggers have been overwhelmed by what one blogger termed a tsunami - the huge traffic we've encountered as people search for the Nick Berg video. (If you're here looking for the link, I've posted it here.) Sites have been knocked off line; many bloggers suspected they were having denial of service attacks, and others thought there was something totally whacky with site meters and others (ahem) lost service because they had exceeded their quota for the month.

As Ghost of a Flea noted here, there have been a lot of inter-blogger discussions about this, and most of us have sought to understand why so many people want to see this video. Commenters here and at other sites indicate that the people actively looking for the video are people who normally would never contemplate viewing such a thing, but they felt driven to do so almost as a grim duty.

Or mabe I'm projecting too much; that grim necessity certainly drove me to watch it despite my wish to avoid it. It was as though I knew that I needed this lesson - even though I thought I was already implacable in my support of this war.

There are other aspects, as well. When I linked to Wizbang (I'm leaving the url out for reasons that will become apparent) I knew the link would show up on their trackbacks, but I never anticipated the huge amount of traffic that the mere trackback would engender, nor that people would stay and read other posts.

So perhaps it isn't just viewing the video that has driven people, it is a need to understand why they viewed the video.

I constantly see references to "the face of the enemy" (which is highly, and probably intentionally, ironic) and expressions of rage. One thing that makes me proud is that bloggers have been incredibly restrained in our handling of this video: we've been very careful not to incite or spread hate and to restrain our own emotions because we are trying to be responsible.

But I think we bloggers and readers have an advantage: we regularly read Iraqi (not to mention Iranian, Egyptian, Italian, British, etc.) bloggers and we know first hand that terrorists do not speak or act for them but in fact speak and act against them.

That's my way of saying don't waste your time calling for a total nuking of Iraq here. You came here and to other blogs because you wanted truth and on some level, you recognize that Big Media isn't delivering. Read the Iraqi and Soldier blogs on the list to the right of the screen, and learn how much more there is going on than CNN or the NY Times want you to know.

Remember: they withheld information about the torture and murders during Saddam's reign in order, they claim, to maintain their presence in Iraq. What have they done to restore your trust? Shown the same pictures over and over of prisoner abuse, yet shown restraint in their coverage of Nicholas Berg?

Does that mean they trust the Arab street more than the American street?

The biggest media betrayal is this: U.S. forces have fought back attacks launched from Syria and Iran this moth, and they have done so with encouragement and cooperation from Iraqis. You don't have to be a genius to recognize how important that partnership has been, so why has Big Media fretted about being "bogged down" when it was so clear that this the partnership was being formed? Why, when Big Media has constantly urged we not go to Iraq but to continue policies of containment have they bewailed containment policies that have, in fact, borne fruit?

I have to go to work and try to behave normally. I have to try and act as though there isn't a gaping wound in my heart and that this past week hasn't altered my life and world view.

If that seems overly strong, read it as an admission that, despite everything I have written, I really failed to understand what the word "evil" conveys in its entirety. I thought I knew, but I didn't.

Now to some old analysis because I haven't the restraint in me yet to note today's "other" news.

There has also been muted criticism on silence in the USA. As noted in the May 14 Washington Times, American's beheading 'old news' for media elite but the Times also notes that for many Americans, Beheading returns focus to terror war:

"Those who are wringing their hands and shouting so loudly for 'heads to roll' over [the abuse] seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that someone's head has rolled — that of another innocent American brutally murdered by terrorists," said Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat. "Why is it that there's more indignation over a photo of a prisoner with underwear on his head than over the video of a young American with no head at all?"

It is hard not to believe that the liberal media have played down the Berg story because they don't want to do anything that might inadvertantly help Pres. Bush. Undoubtably the plethora of photos as those in the prisoner abuse investigations may make that story seem more inviting - or easier - but I'm reminded of Def. Sec. Rumsfeld's question as to how many vases there really were in Baghdad, or was the media just showing the same one repeatedly. (As we learned, Rumsfeld was right on that score.)

Although many of us have focused on how this video is affecting Americans, many experts think that it was primarily a recruiting tool for the terrorists promoting the image of Zarqawi as a strong leader who, I might add, is not afraid to get blood on his hands in the literal sense.

The Spectator article Hoping for the Worst by Toby Harnden from which Instapundit quoted concludes with what should the single most daming facet of the partisanship that plagues Americans in this incredibly long election cycle:

Whatever we thought about the war before it was launched, it is imperative that the forces of Arab nationalism and Islamism that now threaten to destroy Iraq are defeated. If America fails in Iraq it will be all of us in the West, not just Bush, who will suffer. But those who would be most in peril, of course, would be the Iraqis, who deserve better than to have their country treated as an electoral playground by the American Left or Right. To wish otherwise is as sick as the grins on the faces of the Abu Ghraib torturers. (Emphasis mine.)
May 17 - 18:11:Oops. Spectator link added belatedly. Also the link to the Instapundit post about this phenomenon.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 PM | Comments (7)

May 14, 2004

Boy Scouts of Iraq

May 14 - We've all heard reference to the fact that the Iraqis were said to be good at maintaining paperwork trails due to British influence, but there seems to be another residue of colonial rule in Iraq: the Boy Scouts.

I found it interesting - and heartening - that this survived even during Saddam's reign and is being restored in this post at Grim's Hall.

Posted by Debbye at 07:32 PM | Comments (1)

Email from Fallujah

May 14 - Good read and a reminder that the war continues with BLACKFIVE: Marine Letter From Fallujah About Great Americans.

Gweneth Paltrow can ... do something undignified.

Posted by Debbye at 07:16 PM | Comments (4)

May 13, 2004


May 13 - ... But if the combat is not soon ended, the terrorists (or so-called "militants" or "insurgents") will learn something else: they have made the war personal. When that happens, the American experience of war shows that our troops will shed the veneer of restraint like a snake's skin. And for every American head Zarqawi severs, he will soon find three of his own men's heads. -- Rev. Donald Sensing

I doubt I'm the only blogger who has been shocked by the enormous number of hits my site has had for searches on Nick Berg.

I think that indicates that it has suddenly gotten personal for millions of people.

Ever since Sept. 11, anyone who is old enough to have actually been taught U.S. history without the nuance and subtlety and cultural relativism and feminist slant and ... you know what I'm driving at here ... has understood some critical facts both about this war in which we are now engaged and about us - what we love, what we are capable of, and what we could and might yet do.

We love freedom. We are a free people, and no one is more dangerous than a free person. Every dictator throughout time has understood that basic fact, and our enemy today understands it as well.

That is why we are their primary target and their primary enemy. It is, if you like, a perverse honour to be singled out so.

That is also why this time is so dangerous. That is why we took so risky a gamble in Iraq, and why the stakes are so high.

The Arab media is not altogether wrong to consider the sanctions against Syria a major news story, you know. Maybe they are beginning to understand what "You are either with us or against us" really means in American.

Read Rev. Sensing's post Retribution. Read the whole thing, and the comments. Know yourselves.

Then read this letter from Iraq. I'm excerpting some because it says what urgently needs to be said:

It [the campaign against Sadr] has been subtle and very well done by our leaders. You should be proud. It would have seemed impossible to have achieved our four main goals against Sadr even just a few months ago. Now today, despite the message of the pessimists who are misleading you into despair, we are have scored all the victories needed to bring this battle to a close. First goal was to isolate Sadr. Second was to exile him from his power-base in Baghdad. Third was to contain his uprising from spreading beyond his militias. And the last goal was to get both his hard-line supporters to abandon him, and to do encourage moderates to break from him. This has been done brilliantly, and now we are on the march in a way that just months ago seemed impossible to do. Sadr is losing everything.


Our units, in fact, are operating w/in 500 meters of the most sacred Shia religious sites in these cities, and you should notice that the local people are not resisting. This is what the pessimists amongst you are preventing you from understanding.


... What you need to do is be strong and persistent in your faith with us. Sadr's militia is in panic and desperate, so they are dangerous, but you need to keep this all in perspective. The pessimists would have you believe this is a disaster. Don't listen to them. I think some of them feel that their reputations require our failure because they have been so negative all along, so they are jumping at every opportunity to sensationalize what is happening here as a disaster. Eliminating Sadr's threat is part of the overall mission and we are further ensuring the liberation of the Iraqi people. This has to be done, and we are doing it.

Don't be seduced by those who would rather that we sit back and just enjoy the freedoms past generations of Americans have sacrificed to gain for us. This is our time to earn it. I remember President Bush saying after the September 11th attacks: "The commitment of our Fathers is now the calling of our time."

The letter tells exactly how all the achievements of the campaign have come about, but observant, news conscious readers will realize that the signs were in every news broadcast for the past two months.

Take heart, America! Your common sense has risen above the ponderous, fatuous news media and punditry this past year, and you are being proven correct. It isn't over, not by a mile, but steady as she goes, home port is in sight.

God bless and protect our soldiers and coalition forces, and may their bullets fly true.

We have asked so much of them this past year, so show them your support and a million thanks here.

A Very Special Message to CNN: we are approaching the anniversary of a another major combat operation: D-Day (you f***ing wankers.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

Saddam sues Britain in ICC

May 13 - This news day is getting weirder: Saddam files war crimes suit:

VETERAN French lawyer Jacques Verges will today file a war crimes suit against Britain at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Mr Verges, who says he has been asked to act for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, said the suit would be on behalf of "the families of prisoners of the coalition in which Britain participates".

"The reality of torture and systematic abuses of the dignity of Iraqi prisoners, sometimes followed by murders, both by US and British troops is no longer in question," the text of the complaint reads.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 AM | Comments (2)

May 12, 2004

Nicholas Berg Video (Updated)

May 12 - (Text of original post under update.)

Update May 14 - Wizbang is listing all the sites that are carrying the video here. Before you leave their site, consider hitting their Amazon wish box to show your thanks for the kind of people who go to the extra expense, time and dedication that maybe only a volunteer project can inspire.

It's being called an internet tsunami, but whatever you choose to call it, welcome to the blogosphere. We're all a bit stunned by the traffic. (End update.)

Okay, the search engine hits are going through the roof, so let me say here that if you're looking for the video, go here and you'll find the link. (Update: sites are overloaded and crashing with all the hits, so read the post and comments - noting that some of them are, um, extremely angry - and any new links will probably be provided there.)

20:15 Flea's link is working [Update: not any more, as the Malaysia site turned the feed off] but I urge you to read the entire post before viewing the video - this isn't a slasher film, people, but a reality film that we're going to have to live with. Most of all, remember the mission.

Charles names the entry "Islamic Snuff Film" and if you watch it, you'll understand why. To be honest, I surprised myself by choosing to watch it, but I think it's because, although Daniel Pearl's murder should be a constant reminder as to what kind of despicable barbarians we face, it is too easy to lapse back into la-la "we're all human underneath" mentality and need a bracing reminder of what kind of foe we face - not only in Iraq, but around the world.

I'm still catching up on the news, and only just learned that the comparisons with Daniel Pearl were more apt than I first realized. They were both men who wanted to spread understanding and communication capabilities, they were both Jewish, and they were both murdered in a grisly manner and the murder filmed for propaganda reasons.

I hate the fact that the Berg family has been thrust under the media spotlight by all this and don't doubt that the circulation of the video increases their pain, but however much I regret that I am contributing to that pain, I think it is again time to address a truth that we want so much to deflect:

This is a battle to the death.

I've only begun scanning other web logs this afternoon, but started with Expat Yank over in England and, no surprise, he has excellent coverage and links - including one to a woman we've all missed but who has finally posted again. I've been so shocked that it hadn't occurred to me that the video taping of the murder at this particular time was a mistake, but I haven't noticed CNN backing away from the prison abuse story so maybe Zarqawi understands our media only too well. But then, they may have failed to notice that Fox is the number one news choice in the USA and their coverage is pretty focused on Mr. Berg.

16:53: Ghost of a Flea has a wonderful post and more links.

Jay has a column at Tech Central that is a must reading for those who are blinking at the notion of trying to build the democratic nation of Iraq, and William Safire has an appropriately named column in today's NY Times, Hold Fast, Idealists, along the same theme.

May 23 - 09:16: Comments section has been closed.

Posted by Debbye at 04:17 PM | Comments (43)

May 11, 2004

Cowardice, not restoration of honour

May 11 - As if we needed reminding as to who are the sickest of them all: Video shows beheading of American captive in Iraq:

[Nicholas] Berg is heard screaming as his throat is cut. One of the captors then holds up his severed head.

"For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage for some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused," the hooded man standing behind the American said just before the killing.

"Coffins will be arriving to you one after the other, slaughtered just like this."

I somehow doubt that message is really aimed at American mothers and wives, who surely aren't surprised that we don't bargain with terrorists.

Big, brave men, careful to slaughter someone held in captivity and bound so he can't fight back. Incapable of honour and devoid of humanity, yet they released this statement:

"Where is the compassion, where is the anger for God's religion, and where is the protection for Muslims' pride in the crusaders' jails?" the man says.
The voice is attributed to but not confirmed to be that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

They try to depict this as a response to the shocking images of prisoner abuse, but they also recorded Daniel Pearl's murder for propaganda purposes; they tried to do the same with Fabrizio Quattrocchi but he denied them.

They will never run out of excuses, but their reason will always be the same: they are evil.

The pictures of prisoner abuse that have shocked the world have shocked me as well, but I've never pretended that we Americans are any more perfect than any other group of people (although we may be more honest about our warts than others.)

Those who have already been and will be charged with prisoner abuse forgot the mission, which was to bring freedom to Iraq. That's the short and long of it, and they will be held accountable for their crimes but it will not derail the rest of us from that mission.

CNN keeps asking "how will we win the hearts and minds after this?" and I keep wondering when CNN is going to clue into why we went into Iraq.

It's not about getting Iraqis to trust us. Gaining their trust is a part of the true goal, which is to get them to trust themselves and each other. That's why a political solution to Fallujah was crucial, and why Iraqis dealing with Muqtada al-Sadr is so important.

Al Qaeda doesn't worry about gaining trust or building self-confidence. Why go to all the trouble of gaining trust when you can achieve your aims by spreading fear? (And let's be honest: it is much easier to spread fear than build confidence.)

Our mission in Iraq isn't about easy. We are fighting terrorism by opening a door that was hitherto closed for Iraqis, and thus all oppressed people, to give them a chance to prove to themselves that they are capable of running their own countries and their own affairs.

It isn't even about proving to other countries - including Canada and maybe especially Old Europe - that Arab countries can be self-sustaining and run by consensual government, because the patronizing attitude of elitists doesn't allow for the prospect that people don't need watchdogs.

That is why I believe the handover must happen. That is why I believed and continue to believe that the war in Iraq was just and right. We will make mistakes for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that this has never been done before, but the most important reason is that however strong the USA is as a nation, it is composed of human beings who come complete with human failings and weaknesses and thus make mistakes.

That is another difference between us and them: we are mere humans, and acknowledge it.

May 12 - 7:54: Burnside has more here and some good links.

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 PM | Comments (8)

May 07, 2004

Salvadorean soldier fights hand-to-hand in Najaf

May 5 - Honour and courage in this account of Salvadoran soldiers praised for Iraq role

Posted by Debbye at 03:40 PM | Comments (2)

May 06, 2004

Failure of leadership?

May 6 - Putting some pieces of the puzzle together: 800th MP unit: History of abuse, failure

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 PM | Comments (2)

May 04, 2004

Disgracing the uniform

May 4 - Sgt. Stryker on the whiny NCO who excuses his deplorable actions with "we wasn't trained enough" (SSDB: Needs More Cowbell):

The first rule of a coward, when caught, is to play stupid. The second is to blame someone else. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I don't need a superior to tell me that attaching wires to someone's genitals or beating the living shit out of them is unacceptable. What are you, a fucking idiot?
That says it all.

Posted by Debbye at 02:10 PM | Comments (2)

Baptism under fire

May 4 - An inspiring set of photos and commentary about four Marines who asked to be baptized in Fallujah at Marines Find Faith Amid the Fire.

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2004

Dust in the light

May 3 - Interesting article: Dust in the Light: The Thulfiqar Army: Linked to Iran or Soccer?

Posted by Debbye at 03:52 PM | Comments (2)

Voices of the Fallen

May 3 - From the Mudville Gazette, a must read: Voices of the Fallen.

A lot of things in that one for reflection and remembrance.

I wonder if those opposed to the war truly believe that Americans didn't understand beforehand what cost we would pay for Iraq? Those who invoke Vietnam seemed to have forgotten that we all learned lessons from that war and went into this one with our eyes open.

I must try to catch some sleep. Later (or much, much later ...)

Posted by Debbye at 03:46 PM | Comments (2)

Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners

May 3 - There's an interesting analysis by Jason van Steenwyk at IRAQ NOW ...... Media Analysis With A Sense of Insurgency on the investigation into the alleged prisoner abuse at the Abu Gharaib prison.

Start here then here and here, here and here.

Jason also links to Phil Carter's post here. (If blogspotted, use search function on your browser for "Military Misconduct at Abu Ghraib prison" for the May 1 post.) Carter gets straight to the point:

So let's be clear on what's going on here. We go into Iraq to stop, among other things, human rights abuses that were being directed by the Hussein regime.
That's the part that bites.

Posted by Debbye at 03:28 PM | Comments (4)

May 02, 2004

British soldiers investigated for abuse of Iraqi prisoners (Updated)

May 2 - Six British soldiers are being questioned in connection with accusations of abusing prisoners in southern Iraq (Six British soldiers held over Iraqi torture photos.)

This investigation comes from pictures published in the Daily Mirror which details the alleged abuse.

The authenticity of the photos has yet to be established (the Mirror says they are satisfied) and what matters is to investigate and uncover the truth.

That is the difference between us and them. We do come face to face with evil in our own ranks (and I would count mistreating anyone in captivity as evil) but we also confront it rather than issue denials or excuses.

Those calling for outside investigations have obviously been following the quagmire of the Sept. 11 commissions and know nothing about the military. The military will be far harsher than any civilian court because they expect soldiers to follow a code of honour - a concept that was once sacred in civilian life too but has faltered in large part due to notions of moral equivalence.

The military doesn't do moral equivalence.

Just curious: are there any Arab journalists willing to issue a challenge to their governments to come clean and hold investigations on torture and prisoner abuse? Saudi Arabia (for Bill Sampson?) Syria (for Maher Arar?) How about Iran (for Zahra Kazemi?)

Update: Commenter Sandy P. gave a link to the webpage of a journalist who does make the comparison (two, actually, he notes the apology from an official as well) here - scroll down - there are two posts, including one that refers to this post by Omar at Iraq The Model.

Posted by Debbye at 02:38 PM | Comments (4)

Thomas Hamill

May 2 - "I want everybody know he's been found ... I'm going to be shouting it from the rooftops."

-- Kellie Hamill, speaking to reporters after learning her husband Thomas had escaped and was safe.

U.S. Hostage Escapes in Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)

May 01, 2004

The torture incidents in Iraq

May 1 - I'm going to let the links at Instapundit take the lead on this one as I'm running late.

Quick thought: if true, it's wrong, despicable, and the wrong-doers will be punished.

Those waxing indignant can only wish that such incidents in much of the world were treated in a similar manner by governments who routinely torture and degrade prisoners as a matter of policy.

That's the difference between us and them: we aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we do hold ourselves to a standard which doesn't include whitewashing and blatant denials.

As Gen. Kimmit said "they let us down."

Posted by Debbye at 10:10 AM | Comments (5)

April 30, 2004

Bringing TV to Iraq

Apr. 17 - How much do we believe in a free and unfetterd press? How much do we believe in giving people the facts and letting them make up their own minds?

Do you believe that Iraqis deserve an responsible and sober alternative to Al Jazeera? Spirit of America does, and has launched a fund-raising effort which the blogosphere has eagerly taken up.

Donate here on behalf of Fighting Fusileers for Freedom!

Let freedom ring!

Apr. 30 - 10:03: Dang, this post sat in draft mode. Stupid me - I didn't realize it wasn't on the page until I tried to find it. Better late than never, I suppose.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 AM | Comments (6)

April 29, 2004

Italians march for hostages

Apr. 29 - I've been trying to come up with an honest take about the response in Italy to the Green Brigade demand that there be anti-war demonstrations or the hostages held in Iraq will die.

It's very hard. There are situations for which I'd like to think I would stand strong, but if my kid's life was on the line, can I honestly say I know what I'd do? And since I'm not now nor have ever been in that situation, how can I honestly pass judgement on those who are?

I'm just going to link the articles from CNN, Yahoo and the BBC.

Posted by Debbye at 04:50 PM | Comments (4)

Australian possibly killed in Iraq (Updated)

Apr. 29 - There is a possibility that an Australian civilian has been shot and killed in Basra (Australian killed in Iraq) although other reports state the victim was a South African.

What can one say about Australia? Staunch friend and good ally hardly covers it. Their military is top-notch, and PM John Howard has shown firm resolve against Zimbabwe's Mugabe and has been solid in his leadership of anti-terrorism in the South Pacific and Asia.

It irritates me that our media pays scant attention to any part of the world that isn't France, but then I don't pay much attention to the media.

Whether the victim is Australian or South African is less important, though, than the sober fact that civilians who are trying to rebuild Iraq are targeted by a cowardly enemy that hides behind anonymity while agitating against coalition forces because the infrastructure isn't being built as rapidly as everyone wants it to be.

I could warn the murderers that it isn't a good idea to piss off Australians, but I doubt they'd listen. They never do.

Apr. 30 - 00:13: The victim was from South Africa.

Posted by Debbye at 11:53 AM | Comments (3)

April 28, 2004

On WMD in Iraq

Apr. 28 - Interesting article by Kenneth Timmerman in Insight Magazine, Saddam's WMD Have Been Found, which raises some questions about the stockpiles of pesticides found early on in the war and which continue to be found.

Read also Iraqi Weapons in Syria for a refresher on how the suspicion began - and was seemingly dismissed - that the WMD had been moved to Syria and then a story from April 23, Sudan orders Syrian WMD out of country.

It's tempting to speculate and connect some dots; in fact, it's too tempting by far. Among the considerations are the recent allegations from Jordan that a major chemical attack in Amman originated in Syria, and even more intriguing is that Sudan would demand Syria remove their WMD now, when so many eyes are now on the Sudan because of the ethnic cleansing that has occurred durng their civil war.

Posted by Debbye at 11:24 AM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2004

Odd ransom demand for Italian hostages

Apr. 27 - This is strange even for the kind of barbarism we've seen from the "insurgents" in Iraq - Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Italians in Video:

In the video, the apparent kidnappers vow to kill the hostages in five days unless the Italian people protest against their military presence in Iraq.
As a cynical note, the demand implies that the anti-war demonstrations are staged events anyway, undertaken without underlying ideals or beliefs, and therefore it shouldn't be hard to hold another one.

One of the odder parts is that it puts the Italian anti-war movement on the spot rather than the Italian government. What is their game? What does this Green Brigade hope to achieve?

But I'm also wondering if a bit of Italian history might figure in to this: an Italian group of ultra-leftists back in the 60's and 70's was called the Red Brigade. They kidnapped Aldo Moro on March 16, 1978, and executed him on on May 9, 1978. (The Moro link makes some assertions about Moro's influence on Italian politics. I'm not familiar enough to agree or disagree, but it is interesting.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)

Getting down to business

Apr. 27 - CNN uses the same url throughout the day, so the numbers will have changed since I first saved the link. U.S. forces kill 64 insurgents near Najaf

and yesterday evening, but the same link: US warplanes pounding Fallujah

May their bullets fly true.

Posted by Debbye at 02:03 PM | Comments (2)

Looking through keyholes

Apr. 27 - NY Times columnist David Brooks takes a look at D.C. in Looking Through Keyholes:

These are the crucial months in Iraq. The events in Najaf and Falluja will largely determine whether Iraq will move toward normalcy or slide into chaos.

So how is Washington responding during this pivotal time? Well, for about three weeks the political class was obsessed by Richard Clarke and the hearings of the 9/11 commission, and, therefore, events that occurred between 1992 and 2001. Najaf was exploding, and Condoleezza Rice had to spend the week preparing for testimony about what may or may not have taken place during the presidential transition.


This is crazy. This is like pausing during the second day of Gettysburg to debate the wisdom of the Missouri Compromise. We're in the midst of the pivotal battle of the Iraq war and le tout Washington decides not to let itself get distracted by the ephemera of current events.

Damned freaking straight, Mr. Brooks.

Posted by Debbye at 11:49 AM | Comments (15)

Senior diplomats in Britain

Apr. 27 - Sheesh, and I thought our State Dept. was a total screw-up! Dismay over Blair stance on Mid-East:

Tony Blair's approach to Iraq and the Middle East was savaged last night by 52 senior diplomats, who questioned his support for America's "doomed" policy in the region.

Their unprecedented onslaught came as the Government confirmed it was discussing sending more troops to Iraq to fill the gap left by Spain's withdrawal.

The former ambassadors, high commissioners and governors called on Mr Blair to stop supporting President George W Bush's policies unless he could persuade the US to rethink its approach.
Now I do understand how diplomats feel. They are supposed to go to dinner parties and have pleasant conversations, not be confronted by people who say "You just like to fight and kill." It must be really hard to contend with that kind of thing when your job is to be likeable.

However, adults are generally people who understand that "being liked" isn't really all that it's cracked up to be.

The letter is here. It isn't very long, and the proposals in the letter may surprise you.

Naturally I dashed over to see if Expat Yank had commented on this letter (he had) and got a brief history lesson and some insight into Who's Responsible for the basket case we call the Mid-East because

Underlying those moves was an attitude -- as a group, such "professionals" had come to take the appallingly patronizing view that Arabs/Muslims were somehow "beguiling," "romantic," "unique" and "exceptional" in their cultures and outlooks. Worst of all, they believed that Arab/Muslim culture was incapable of "adaptation", "change" and "modernity".
Read the post; it isn't very long, and Robert makes a pretty compelling case that the decisions their predecessors made and the ones they still urge are the heart of the problem, not the solution.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (4)

April 26, 2004

They fought like lions

"I am very proud of my men. They fought like lions," said Capt. Douglas Zembiec.

Marine plays bagpipes in Fallujah.jpg
The above is of a Marine playing "America the Beautiful" on the bagpipes at Fallujah.

Imagine the strains of that song drifting to the Marines with the setting sun. It must have been a quiet moment, a reflective moment for them. They are so far from home, and surely they miss our spacious skies and purpled mountains. Yet they stay, and that song tells us why.

Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

Until, that is, one Tuesday in September.

We, as a society, may have produced them, but these days they are producing us, and daily, by example, they remind us to be strong and us to be brave. The casualty reports hurt; news of roadside explosions and mortar attacks catch in our throats, but, like them, we must endure.

God bless them all. Never forget them, never take them for granted, never try to diminish their sacrifice with cynical exploitation, and never doubt their dedication.

And never, ever break faith with them.

Posted by Debbye at 08:11 PM | Comments (3)

Bulgarian President visits Iraq

Apr. 26 - Georgi Parvanov, the president of Bulgaria, visited Iraq yesterday and his car convoy came under fire near Karbala (Bulgaria president shot at in Iraq.) No one was hurt.

President Parvanov returned to Bulgaria with the body of Sgt. Dimitar Dimitrov who was killed Friday in an ambush in Karbala and some other Bulgarian soldiers suffering from combat stress.

Sgt. Dimitrov is the sixth Bulgrian soldier to be killed in Iraq.

All the Bulgarian soldiers in Iraq have volunteered for the mission.

Posted by Debbye at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)

April 25, 2004

Marine Barracks bombing mastermind involved in Iraq, backed by Iran

Apr. 25 - There have been sporadic reports in the media about Iranian backing and funding of Muqtada al'Sadr and his aspirations, but this latest report has the markings of Stop! Look! Think!: Beirut veteran blamed over Basra attacks. Excerpts:

A leading Lebanese terrorist accused of blowing up the American embassy in Beirut in the 1980s is being held responsible for the increase in suicide bomb attacks against coalition targets in southern Iraq.

Western intelligence officials have uncovered evidence that the attacks are being co-ordinated by Imad Mugniyeh, a leading figure in Lebanon's extremist Hizbollah Shia Muslim terror organisation.

Washington has accused Mugniyeh of blowing up the American embassy and the United States marine compound in Beirut in the 1980s, killing more than 300 US officials and troops.

The link to the FBI was on the Telegraph web page.

Mugniyeh, who is now in his fifties and has a close relationship with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, has been based in Teheran since the end of the Lebanese civil war, and is also known to have close links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network.

Intelligence officials in Iraq have uncovered evidence that Mugniyeh has been helping to train the self-styled al-Mahdi army set up by Moqtada al-Sadr, the dissident Iraqi Shia leader.

Mugniyeh, the head of Hizbollah's external security apparatus, has deployed scores of Lebanese Hizbollah fighters in Iraq, and set up secret training camps along the southern part of the border with Iran.

The Hizbollah fighters are working closely with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, with whom they developed a close relationship during the 1980s when their terror tactics forced the Reagan administration to withdraw US forces from Beirut.

Attempts by Iranian hardliners to encourage attacks on coalition targets are being undertaken against the wishes of the Iranian government, which earlier this month sent a team of diplomats to Iraq to persuade Sadr to end his stand-off with American troops.

But at the same time as Iranian officials were negotiating with Sadr, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's hardline spiritual leader, was circulating a cassette tape in Arabic to a number of Iraqi mosques in which he called on the Iraqis to "unite and expel the occupiers to ensure the establishment of a new power based on Islam".

A commentary in the Washington Times, Iran's covert actions in Iraq, by Constantine C. Menges covers some more background (although it doesn't name Imad Mugniyeh) and concludes with this:

President Bush has spoken eloquently and often about the Iranian people's right to freedom. Now he needs to instruct his State Department to cease all its open and secret "dialogue and engagement" activities with the clerical regime. These legitimatize the dictatorship and discourage those in Iran who might otherwise act to bring about a democratic future.

Taking these actions now in Iraq and encouraging the Iranian people to liberate themselves this summer could result in two democracies. Otherwise, there is grave risk the removal of Iraq's Saddam Hussein will ultimately result in two Irans — two Shi'ite extremist regimes in the region.
Axis. Of. Evil.

Kerry wants to normalize relationships with Iran, which means abandoning the pro-democracy forces in Iran and granting the the mullahs legitimacy. He brings new meaning to the phrase "useful fool."

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (2)

April 24, 2004

Saudi Arabia

Apr. 25 - In Saudi Arabia, 5 suspected terrorists killed in raid after Wednesday's suicide bombing and over at the Iraq page at The Command Post is this report on some assistance and aid we got from the Saudis during the Iraq War.

President Bush told us back at the beginning of the war that we would be assisted by other countries both publicly and privately. It wasn't hard to figure that if Saudi Arabia was assisting it would definitely be on the Private list.

I'm not sure how much credit the Saudis deserve (note unnamed sources alert) but I think maybe it is somehow both more and less than they get.

Apr. 25 13:04 The AP story is being carried in Canada, too.

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 PM | Comments (1)

Attacks launched from boats in Iraq

Apr. 24 - On Saturday, A series of attacks in Iraq left 28 people dead, including seven eight U.S. militrary personnel.

An mortar attack on a market in Sadr City in Baghdad killed 12 Iraqis and a roadside bomb in Tikrit killed two Iraqi police and two civilians.

A rocket north of Bagdad killed five US soldiers and wounded six.

In Karbala, five attackers who fired mortar at a coalition base were killed by coaltion forces. Fox identifies the coalitions forces that came under mortar attack as Polish.

A new tactic for Iraq is attacks from boats.

Three small boats were involved in explosions near Iraq's main oil terminal.

The first exploded after a team of 7 US sailors boarded the boat. 2 sailors were killed and 4 others wounded. (The report doesn't state what happened to the people on the boat.) [Update: A third sailor has died, and this report states that two of the dead were US Navy, and a third was Coast Guard.]

Shortly afterwards, two other boats were intercepted. They detonated near moored ships.

According to the report carried by Fox, the boats exploded near two Iraqi oil terminals:

The two sailors were killed when they tried to intercept a small boat sighted near the Khawr al-Amaya oil terminal in the north of the Gulf, the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said in a press release.

As the eight-member boarding team approached the boat, it exploded, flipping the team's craft and throwing the crew into the water.

Soon afterward, two more boats were seen approaching the al-Basra terminal. Security forces from the terminals went to intercept the boats, which then exploded, the statement said.

Since no casualties were reported from the explosions of the other boats, I'm assuming that we took different measures when approaching them.

Initiative. Adaptability. Those too are values of Western civilization and worth defending.

Apr. 26 - 12:46 ExPat Yank makes some good comments on the last tactic in Once "Coled", Twice Smarter.

18:33 Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the boat attacks and said that it was ordered by Zarqawi.

Posted by Debbye at 08:18 PM | Comments (2)

April 22, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food Program scandal (UNSCAM) hits British media

Apr. 22 - The Oil for Food program scandal (UNSCAM) has been covered by several articles today in the Daily Telegraph (UK) as well as other media in Britain, Canada, and the U.S.

From the Telegraph, UN officials 'covered up Saddam theft of billions in aid for Iraqis':

Saddam Hussein diverted huge sums from the £60 billion United Nations oil-for-food programme for the poor and sick of pre-war Iraq to foreign governments and vocal supporters of his regime worldwide, the US Congress heard yesterday.

Senior UN, French and Russian officials were alleged to have connived at the scandal, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council inquiry into the affair.

He said some suppliers, mostly Russian, routinely sent out-of-date or unfit food, or sent fewer goods than were paid for and padded out contracts. In that way they created an excess that could be skimmed off by Iraqi officials.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having received bribes on the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the UN official in charge of the programme. Mr Sevan, who is on extended leave pending retirement, denied the claims.

Mr Hankes-Drielsma, a former leading executive at the London-based auditors Price Waterhouse, said that Saddam and his henchmen pocketed billions in surcharges and bribes.

The biggest humanitarian scheme in the UN's history had provided the dictator and "his corrupt and evil regime with a convenient vehicle through which he bought support internationally by bribing political parties, companies, journalists and other individuals of influence.

"The very fact that Saddam Hussein, the UN and certain members of the Security Council could conceal such a scam from the world should send shivers down every spine in this room today."

The Telegraph also has a scathing leader (editorial) Iraq has enough troubles without adding the U.N. which concludes:
There are enough problems attendant on the birth of democracy in Iraq without burdening the country with an organisation that proved so inadequate in confronting the previous dictatorship, whether over oil for food or defiance of Security Council resolutions. George W Bush and Tony Blair may welcome shedding the odious status of occupiers. But they should be under no illusions that the UN will prove an adequate substitute. Given its record in the Balkans and the Middle East, their continuing faith in that body as providing a unique cloak of legitimacy is astonishing.

Another article, Saddam cronies grew rich on cash meant for the starving, points out the hypocrisy of those on the UNSC opposed to the war:

Yesterday, the United States Congress was told that Iraqi files indicated that some of the most vocal critics of sanctions were on the take from Saddam Hussein, benefiting from monies intended to buy food and medicine.

Such friends of Iraq were granted vouchers to buy and trade Iraqi oil, though such vouchers should have been reserved for oil firms with refineries. The vouchers allowed the bearers to make millions in profits.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having profited from the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the top UN official in charge of the oil-for-food programme. Another is a former French ambassador to the UN, Jean-Bernard Merimee, according to Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council's inquiry into the issue.

He told a Congressional sub-committee that Iraq's suppliers routinely sent out of date, or unfit, food to Iraq, or sent fewer goods than were paid for, in order to "pad out" contracts so they could be "skimmed off" by Iraqi officials. Most of those suppliers were Russian companies.

Those involved have reason to fear, Congress was told.

The fall of Saddam uncovered a mountain of meticulous files in several Iraqi ministries, detailing every last aspect of the bribes and commissions extracted by those in Saddam's pay.


UN officials, for their part, have called for evidence of the claims being made, and hinted - off the record - that the investigations were being driven by the political animus of Ahmad Chalabi, a Pentagon favourite who is disliked and distrusted at the UN. But Mr Hankes-Drielsma told Congress that the UN had a clear case to answer, which ran to the very top.

"From the information available to date, it is clear that the UN failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people in administering the oil-for-food programme during the period 1995 to 2003. It will not come as a surprise if the oil-for-food programme turns out to be one of the world's most disgraceful scams and an example of inadequate control, responsibility and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the United Nations aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression."

He added that it appeared to be no coincidence that the countries most involved in the corruption - Russia, France and Syria, to name just three - were among the fiercest opponents of toppling Saddam as they sat in the UN Security Council.

Then, in How the system was abused,
According to Al Mada, the Iraqi newspaper that listed the names of some of the individuals allegedly involved in the scam, French and Russian middlemen formed the largest group.

Russians received more than 2.5 billion barrels of cut-rate crude, some 1.4 billion barrels of which went to the Russian state, according to Iraqi documents leaked to the paper.

French oil traders gained 165 million barrels of cut-rate crude.

The scam worked on two levels. Not only did Iraqi oil purchasers benefit from being able to resell at huge profit but also Saddam distributed "oil vouchers" to corporations, political parties and individuals whom he favoured.

More, in French and Russian politicians 'bribed to relax UN sanctions':
Documents emerging from Baghdad appear to show how Russian and French politicians and businessmen were bribed by Saddam, using money skimmed off the oil-for-food programme. These claims have been denounced by many in France as American propaganda.

UN officials say their programme was audited more than 100 times, although it has never made public the detailed findings.

What is known is that France and Russia's financial interest in Iraq was heavily influenced by Saddam's failure to pay for billions of pounds of arms sold to him on credit during the late 1980s. Many of the weapons were then used to invade Kuwait.

France joined the Allied liberation of Kuwait at the last minute, but its government was left guaranteeing £3 billion in loans to Saddam which he had no intention of repaying.

France's relationship with Saddam dated back to the mid-1970s when Jacques Chirac, the then prime minister, visited Baghdad. Between 1974 and 1990, more than 20 French ministers from all the main parties travelled to Iraq to expand France's commercial interests, which ranged from construction to armaments and a nuclear reactor that the Israelis promptly bombed.

Iraq became France's second biggest oil supplier and France in turn became Iraq's second largest civil and military supplier.

Even when Iraq began to show signs of financial strain during its war with Iran, France helped out. In 1986, M Chirac promised French arms makers that it would guarantee any credit they extended to Saddam.

Even after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the US-led war to evict him the following year, the special relationship between France and Iraq continued.

In 1994, Charles Pasqua, the then interior minister, gave a visa to Saddam's right hand man, Tariq Aziz. France's UN ambassador lobbied for the easing of sanctions against Iraq. The fruit of this was Iraq's acceptance of the oil-for-food programme in 1995. A French bank, BNP Paribas, was chosen to do much of the financial administration.

Critics of the programme say it swiftly became a way for Saddam to reward his friends in the West and manipulate the UN.


In Russia, companies supplying goods and services to Iraq under the UN's oil-for-food programme enjoyed years of inflated contracts and preferential treatment with Iraq.

In return, Moscow used its clout as a permanent UN Security Council member to influence the sanctions programme in Iraq's favour.

Sweetheart deals between Moscow and Baghdad for products ranging from rice to refinery equipment continued right up to the moment American and British forces invaded Iraq last year. In 1997 Lukoil, one of Russia's leading oil firms, signed a deal for exploration and extraction in Iraq's western Qorna region, where reserves were estimated at 20 billion barrels.

In the summer of 2001 when London and Washington were pressing the UN to reduce the list of goods and services permitted under the programme, Russia threatened to use its Security Council veto unless the sanctions were left unchanged for a further five months.

Mohammed Salekh, Saddam's trade minister, said that as a reward, Russia received contracts worth £22 billion, almost 10 times more than it had received in the previous five years.

The Telegraph even links to the U.N. News Centre story of the independent panel that will probe the Oil-For-Food allegations. London NewsNet quotes panel head Paul Volcker on the aims of the panel here, and the London Times has an article (but I'm not a subscriber so I couldn't access it.)

The Toronto Star carries the story, U.N. backs probe of Oil-for-food scandal which makes it look as though Annan always wanted this investigation; the Toronto Sun has UNSC approval of the investigatory panel which has a bit more substance than the Star coverage but not by much.

CTV-Canada has a story about Muslims leaders urging a greater role for the U.N. in Iraq but I saw nothing about the probe.

The CBC - surprise - takes a very sharp tone in UN Security Council approves oil-for-food probe:

Russia and France wanted a discreet internal probe, thinking it was better to keep the corruption charges in-house at the UN rather than have outside investigators poking into the alleged links between Saddam, top UN staffers and Russian and French companies.

Resolution 1538, as it is officially known, may come to be remembered as the official lifting of the lid on a financial scandal that could ultimately dwarf even the worst excesses of Wall Street.

The UN oil-for-food program in Iraq was supposed to be a humanitarian effort. Profits from Iraqi oil sales were to be used exclusively to buy food and medicine for the people of Iraq.

But it seems billions of dollars may have gone missing.

CBS has a story about the independent investigation but hardly the extensive information ABC carried yesterday.

Glenn Reynolds has some links from yesterday as well as today's links to US papers on the scandal, including one that goes into politicians who received money from Samir Vincent and Shakir Alkhalaji who were on the list of those who allegedly received oil vouchers from Saddam.

Austin Bay has an article on The Myth of Oil for Food at Strategy Page.

Something I didn't have a chance to post yesterday is an article by Claudia Rosett in OpinionJournal - The Real World and some ideas how the U.N. could realistically help Iraq.

It seems the U.N. is holding approximately $100 million to cover potential liabilities from the Canal Hotel bombing last August that destroyed the U.N. HQ in Bagdad:

Given that the independent report last October on the U.N.'s security systems in Baghdad found the entire U.N. security apparatus "dysfunctional," and given that the dysfunction was so egregious that the U.N. recently fired the official in charge, it seems strange to reserve that $100 million to help the U.N. potentially cover the cost of its own grievous mistakes. That money was meant to help provide for the betterment of the 26 million citizens of Iraq, not insure the U.N. against its own malfunctions.

As it happens, Iraq-born architect Kanan Makiya was in New York recently seeking funds for the project of building a memorial and a holocaust museum in Baghdad, the better to help Iraq's people understand and come to grips with the atrocities of Saddam's regime. The project would include the cataloguing and preservation of millions of pages of documentation, and the presentation of evidence about the decades of abuse that took place, from which Iraq must still recover. Mr. Makiya is director of the Iraq Memory Foundation (www.iraqmemory.org), which is trying to assemble this project. His proposal states: "The Iraq Memory Foundation is not a project intended to apportion blame or play politics. First and foremost it is designed to allow future generations of Iraqis to glimpse the inner sanctum of the atrocities that were perpetrated during the period of Ba'athist rule from 1968 until 2003."


For this project, Mr. Makiya is seeking, ultimately, an endowment of some $40 million. That's less than half what is still sitting in the Secretariat's own Oil-for-Food account, and it is hard to imagine a more appropriate use of this money than to help Iraqis document, preserve and confront the full truth of Saddam's abuse. In the interest of fairness, the U.N. might also want to turn over a portion of the remaining $60 million or so for a memorial in northern Iraq, where Saddam used chemical weapons to murder thousands of Kurds, and another portion to southern Iraq, site of so many of Saddam's mass graves. It would be the philosophical beginning of restitution for U.N. collusion with Saddam, and of genuine re-legitimization for the U.N. in Iraq.

Pay a visit to the Iraq Memory Foundation and see what you think.

Dang. This post is long even for me.

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 AM | Comments (5)

April 21, 2004

Iraq (updated)

Apr. 21 - Basra bombs kill at least 68 Iraqis

One car exploded in Az Zubayr and then, 30 minutes later as people gathered at the scene, a second suicide car bomb went off in the same location, police officer Hassan Kahlaf said. He said that the first bomber was dressed as a policeman.
18 children on their way to school are among the dead.

The rage such atrocities arouses is too immense for words. May the bullets of our soldiers find and target the bastards that plan these murders.

20:49 Alaa has a pointed response to the coverage by the Arabiya reporter on the scene. Read it. (End update)

A Dane who disappeared in Iraq April 11 has been found dead.

No information has been released about the man's identity or nature of his death. Did he, like Fabrizio Quattrocchi, show too much courage for his captors?

Another Canadian has been taken hostage. From the Canadian Office of Foreign Affairs:

A spokesperson for the department said Rifat Mohammed Rifat (sic) has been missing since April 8. Ottawa confirmed on Tuesday he is Canadian and has been kidnapped.

He is alive, the spokesperson said, but Ottawa doesn't know who kidnapped him or where he's being held.

Rifat, 41, was last seen leaving work at a prison west of Baghdad, where he was working for a Saudi company doing repairs.

His brother, Ali Rifat, reported him missing.

It's not clear his captors know he is Canadian.

Thanks to Nik for sending me the link. Nik comments in the email
"It's not clear his captors know he is Canadian." But it's pretty DAMNED CLEAR they don't give a f***. (Lightly edited by me.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:11 PM | Comments (1)

Remembering the Chaplains

Apr. 21 - Letter from a chaplain serving in Iraq in "... the preachers weren't teaching the golden rule today.":

Second, I work to coordinate Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and Protestant Easter Service. Having services in a war zone is a little different.

A) we have to worry about getting large numbers of people in one place. One mortar round into the right place and you could kill alot of marines.

B) organists are in sort supply and we don't have an organ. Music?

C) We are going to worship and it will be well attended...we need Easter..because we live in the valley of the shadow of death..we need the resurrection.

Remember those who serve.

18:42 I really didn't do this justice, but those who followed the link and read the entire letter already understand why. It is powerful, possibly one of the most powerful accounts from Iraq I've read in a long time.

Posted by Debbye at 12:13 AM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2004


Apr. 20 - From the Command Post, Marines go after the Backers of the Fallujan insurgents targeting the suppliers of weapons, money and recruits.

Not surprisingly,

The operations have focused on locales along the border with Syria and in small towns surrounding Fallujah that are part of a clandestine network of support for fighters locked in a bloody, two week standoff with Marines, the official said.
Taken from The Australian.

Posted by Debbye at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Australian PM slams Spanish retreat

Apr. 19 - Australian PM John Howard slams Spanish troops home

Prime Minister John Howard has attacked Spain's decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq and brushed aside suggestions Australian troops might be sent to fill the gap.

Mr Howard told reporters at Traralgon in eastern Victoria that Spain had made a mistake.

"Spain's decision will give heart to those people who are trying to delay the emergence of a free and democratic Iraq," he said.

"Every time a country appears to be retreating from a difficult situation encouragement is given to those people who have created the difficulty."peMr Howard poured cold water on suggestions Australians might replace Spanish troops.

"We have had no request to do so," he said.


"I am going to repeat the principle: we are not cutting and running, we are going to finish the job, we are going to do what Australians always do and that is to see things through."

Australia has 850 personnel in the Middle East with about 300 inside Iraq, providing security, air traffic control at Baghdad airport and training Iraqi military personnel.

Australia has been a true friend and staunch coalition partner.

Posted by Debbye at 02:41 AM | Comments (1)

Fadi Fadel on being a hostage

Apr. 18 - Fadi Fadel has spoken out about his time with his captors, who tried to torture him into confessing to being an Israeli, American and / or Spanish spy.

Fadel had been working for the International Rescue Committee in Iraq when he and another associate, Nabil Razouk, 30, an Arab from East Jerusalem, were kidnapped.

There has been no new information on Razouk.

Once his captors saw a photocopy of his Canadian passport, he was taken to the office of Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 AM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2004

The Charges against Muqtada al-Sadr

Apr. 18 - This from the Command Post: Extent of Al Sadr's Criminal Activities Revealed which covers this article in The Australian which lays out the legal charges against al-Sadr and the grounds for the arrest warrant for the murder of Abdul Majeed al-Khoei over a year ago

Prosecutors had announced that Sadr was charged with the murder last year of rival cleric Abdul Majeed al-Khoei, the alleged theft of religious funds from several mosques, and the murder by his guards of an Iraqi family.

But Sadr has also been charged with ordering several other murders, setting up illegal courts and prisons, inciting his followers to violence, and other breaches of the Iraqi penal code.

The barrage of charges and evidence amassed by Juhy, a Najaf-based judge, means that even if Sadr can distance himself from the killing of Khoei, he will still face serious problems in court.

The Daily Telegraph (UK) picks up the story with an interview with one of the witnesses to Khoei's murder, Ma'ad Fayad.

The failure of the Shiite majority to support al-Sadr seeminly surprised him, but perhaps he failed to take into account that Iraqis would see the Mahdi Army as Saddammites under another name.

The destruction by religious extremists of an entire community gives a foretaste of life in Iraq if the hardline cleric takes control, writes Philip Sherwell in Najaf.
I wish to note that the story carries no byline, including that of Philip Sherwell.
On the dust-blown plains of central Iraq, Qawliya had long held a notorious reputation as a haven for prostitution, drug dealers and gun runners - until the village was reduced to rubble and its population driven from their homes.
Not the nicest place in the world, granted.
The attack that destroyed Qawliya was launched by the Mahdi Army militiamen of Moqtada al-Sadr, the young clerical firebrand who has become the voice of anti-American discontent for many of the country's Shia Muslim majority.

It was this brutal display of Mahdi Army muscle last month - combined with the increasing power wielded by its Islamic sharia law courts - that finally persuaded Paul Bremer, chief US administrator of coalition forces, to declare al-Sadr an outlaw, The Telegraph has been told.

Yahya Shubari, the young commander of the Mahdi Army in the nearby city of Diwaniya, said last week: "I sent a group of my men to Qawliya because a young girl had been abducted by pimps and we wanted to rescue her. But they were fired at by the villagers and one was martyred. So we went back later in larger numbers and with local tribesmen to confront them."

Others claim that the Mahdi Army had simply decided to make an example out of Qawliya. Whichever version is correct, the village is now a wasteland after an attack that lasted several hours. Some of its estimated population of 1,500 were killed; most fled to other cities, abandoning their homes to looters.

Both sides exchanged gunfire before the militiamen apparently used mortars and rocket-propelled grenades in their onslaught. However, they deny local reports that they used a bulldozer to flatten houses.

Shubari claimed: "In Diwaniya, the Mahdi Army is restoring peace and order. We have sharia courts, they are run by judges sent from Najaf and we impose 80 lashes for stealing and drinking alcohol. The punishments are carried out by court police."


So much for democracy, whisky, sexy.
Nonetheless, senior coalition officials privately acknowledge that they have been taken aback by the scale and organisation of the uprising launched by the militant cleric in several southern and central cities.

The Telegraph has also learnt that US intelligence warned Mr Bremer not to move against al-Sadr without a back-up military plan - but that he bowed to pressure for quick action from hawks in the Pentagon led by Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence.

I disagree with that assessment. We had the means and manpower (due to British and US troop rotations) and attacked on two fronts (like that's never happened before!) That was the back-up military plan the writers for the Telegraph can't see due to their attitude toward Paul Wolfowitz. Too bad they couldn't maintain their professionalism for it's a fairly decent article otherwise.
In a disturbing echo of the era of Saddam Hussein, local residents appear cowed as they publicly praise their new leader - a man whose father and brothers were murdered by the former dictator. "We are all volunteers in the Mahdi Army now," said an Iraqi policeman. "At my police station, the policemen and the Mahdi Army stand side by side. Of course I will fight the Americans if they come here."

However, the refrain is different in private. "Al-Sadr is a thief who steals from pilgrims and he is a murderer," said a member of a prominent Najaf family. "His people will kill anyone who speaks out against him."

In one of the few stores still open there is a pro-Sadr tract for sale entitled A Muslim Woman's Education. It forbids women to dance, even with their husbands, and says young girls should not learn nursery rhymes as they must not sing.

It is the type of Islamic zealotry which the Mahdi Army brought to Qawliya, and which al-Sadr hopes to enforce across more of Iraq if coalition forces leave the country.

Apr. 19 09:03: I'm wrong, it's a 3-prong attack. There's been skirmishes on the Syrian border since Apr. 13 leading to the attacks over the weekend More here. Wretchard also notes that the closure of the western highways out of Baghdad cut off Qaim.

Oh, and just for the record, Blair says violence in Iraq will get worse before the June 30 handover

Tony Blair will tell MPs tomorrow that Britain should be prepared for worse violence in Iraq in the coming weeks.

The Prime Minister believes that British and American troops must brace themselves for "acts of desperation" by anti-Coalition rebels as the June 30 deadline for the handover of sovereignty in Iraq draws closer, senior advisers to Mr Blair said yesterday.

So please, let's have no wailing and gnashing of teeth from the media at every bump and roadblock on the track. The only ones who thought this would be a cakewalk were your expert commentators (after they stopped predicting millions of civilians being killed and thousands of soldiers dying in street-to-street battles of Stalingrad Baghdad.)

Take a real history class. Feel lucky, and thank God that the losses have been fewer than even moderate predictions.

Grieve for every loss. An irreplaceable soul has been lost, but we have good, well-trained soldiers who are doing their mightiest to achieve victory.

And they have great taste in music (drink warning in effect for the last line in the post.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:29 PM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2004

Chirac's Oil Deals with Saddam

Apr. 16 - From Front Page Magazine, Jamie Glazov interviews Kenneth Timmerman (FrontPage magazine.com :: Chirac's War for Oil by Jamie Glazov) which details the deal Saddam had with CFP Total and Elf Aquitaine (since merged as TotalFinaElf) before the war for exploration and development of two oil fields.

The deals were very lucrative for the French, so much so that Timmerman concludes that, as the projects could not begin until the sanctions were lifted, then the lifting of the sanctions must have been the pay-off for Saddam.

There are also some surprising revelations about how Chirac's party does fund-raising.

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 PM | Comments (2)

Courage of an Italian

Apr. 16 -

The Italian hostage executed in Iraq tried to tear off his hood seconds before he was shot dead and screamed: "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies."
I've been trying to find words for the bravery and defiance of Fabrizio Quattrocchi but I can only stare.

Fabrizio Quattrocchi was 36 years old. He was a former baker. He was forced to dig his own grave.

Fabrizio Quattrocchi, in his final act, denied victory to his murderers. He won.

They taped his murder for use as propaganda so they could gloatingly use it to torture the families and nations of those who have been kidnapped and he ruined it for them.

It's a Flight 93 moment, one of those times when ordinary people become extraordinary and decide that their deaths will. not. be. used to terrorize, intimidate and kill others.

How, after being held blindfolded for countless days, does someone keep that spark - the love of freedom and one's own personal dignity - ready to break free in an act that inspires the world?

(Al Jazeera refused to air the killing because it was too bloody, or so they claim. Right.)

Thanks to Ghost of a Flea for the link.

Apr. 17: Ghost of a Flea made his own tribute, as have Chaos Overlord, Alpha Patriot and Conservative Teen Angst.

Apr. 20 I missed this in the New York Post:

The Italian troops risking their lives in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led Coalition have fought with great skill and courage, and are a credit to the Italian nation, but even their valor pales before the bravery of Fabrizio Quattrocchi.

Apr. 28 12:42: James S. Robbins pays tribute in Moments of Truth.

Posted by Debbye at 07:08 PM | Comments (14)

April 14, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food Program

Apr. 14 - More information on the use of oil vouchers to circumvent the U.N. Oil for Food scandal, this time from Ireland.

Look at this post, which says that a man who was active to end UN sanctions against Iraq, Denis Halliday, went on to become chairman of Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration team. [Correction: Denis Halliday was a member of a PR firm who was retained for the anti-sanctions campaign; former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds became chairman of Bula Resources. The link to the original post is here.]

The former special adviser to former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson introduces the Iraqi chairman of a pressure group dedicated to the lifting of UN sanctions to the head of a reputable Irish PR firm. The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner hires the PR firm to seek to influence several high-profile Irish politicians to support the campaign to lift sanctions for an estimated €80,000.

The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner's website features quotes from former UN Assistant Secretary General in charge of the Oil for Food program Denis Halliday., After quitting his job in 1998, this proud Irishman has been able to travel the world to campaign against sanctions and the US military use of Shannon airport.

As part of the anti-sanctions PR campaign, several Irish politicians, including former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, visited Iraq in 1998.

After Mr Reynolds' visit, he made pleas for ending sanctions. Then he became chairman of Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration firm.

The PR firm's fees for the anti-sanctions campaign were paid by Bula Resources.

The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner was listed by the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada as receiving 11,000,000 barrels in oil "allocations" (worth up to $3,300,000 according to the Financial Times estimates).

The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner "insisted that the Irish exploration company Bula Resources and its former chairman Albert Reynolds were always aware that he was selling oil on behalf of Saddam Hussein's government."

The link to the MEMRI inquiry on the oil vouchers is here and when we look under Ireland, there are two names:

1. Riyadh Al-Taher - 11 million
2. Afro-Eastern - 2 million

"His account conflicts with the version of events offered by the former taoiseach, who said he was never aware that el Taher was working on behalf of the former Iraqi dictator's government."

Bula Resources is now in liquidation by the High Court and its 43,000 shareholders are most worried about recouping a €1.5 million deposit paid by the company as part of a deal involving an entity in Bahrain.

The company is also being investigated by officials from the [Irish] Office of the Director of Company Enforcement (ODCE).

Meanwhile, the second "Irish" company on the al-Mada list is "Afro-Eastern", a defunct company located in the village that was the headquarters of another company involved in a long running scandal about the Irish-Iraqi beef trade. Afro-Eastern was once headed by a Coptic couple who seem to have disappeared.

It gets better. Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 06:21 PM | Comments (5)

April 13, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food Program

Apr. 14 - More Oil for Food Program questions, these involving the money given to Scott Ritter for his movie Shifting Sands.

According to the Financial Times, the money for the movie came from Shakir Khafaji who admits the money came from oil vouchers from Saddam:

A Detroit-based businessman of Iraqi origin who financed a film by Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, has admitted for the first time being awarded oil allocations during the UN oil-for-food programme.

Shakir Khafaji, who had close contacts with Saddam Hussein's regime, made $400,000 available for Mr Ritter to make In Shifting Sands, a film in which the ex-inspector claimed Iraq had been "defanged" after a decade of UN weapons inspections.


Mr Khafaji says there was no connection between the oil allocations, which he says he sold on behalf of his "family", and his relationship with Mr Ritter, an ex-Marine who shifted from being one Saddam Hussein's toughest critics on weapons of mass destruction to being an opponent of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

In an interview with the Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, Mr Khafaji admitted that he sold allocations to Italtech, a Tuscany-based company, which resold the oil to a Houston-based oil trading company called Bayoil, or its subsidiaries. But he says he never told Mr Ritter about his receipt of the oil allocations.

It's good to see that people are still pursuing the truth about the oil voucher program and, by extension, the U.N. Oil for Food Program scandal.

Posted by Debbye at 11:22 PM | Comments (4)

Fadi Fadel

Apr. 13 - False Story Delays Release? Fadi Fadel, a Canadian held hostage by unknown forces in Iraq, has been reported on Arab television to be an Israeli agent.

"(The tape) shows him giving a different name and saying he's Israeli and this is what we've been trying to correct," [Fadi's brother Ghayas] Fadel said in an interview from his home near Montreal.
The Canadian ambassador to Jordan, John Holmes, held a televised news conference in Amman today to confirm Fadi's identity.

Posted by Debbye at 10:26 PM | Comments (1)

April 11, 2004

Iraq Endgame IV

Apr. 11 - Gary Teeley, a Briton held hostage has been freed and handed over to Italian units after being held for six days in Nasiriyah:

The troops' spokesman, Col Giuseppe Perrone, said: "Our special forces carried out a targeted action against the headquarters of supporters of [the Shi'ite cleric] Moqtada al-Sadr to check that there were no weapons.

"As a result and thanks to the local population, those who had the hostage felt under pressure and freed him. Our troops then took him into their care."

Eight truck drivers were also freed: three from Pakistan, two from Turkey, and individuals from India, the Phillipines and Nepal.

American Thomas Hamill and the three Japanese being held are still in captivity.

The leader (editorial) in the Daily Telegraph has a somewhat disquieting paragraph:

If the truce that has now been called between Allied forces and the insurgents in Fallujah is a face-saving prelude to a total surrender (or even a ruse to bring about an SAS-style raid to free the kidnapped) then all well and good. But if it comes to be perceived as part of a broader political deal with the insurgents - such as that which may have been cut with kidnappers in the south to secure the freedom of Gary Teeley - then any short-term gains will be massively outweighed by problems further down the pike. Many within Iraq and the wider Arab world will draw unfortunate inferences from the political aesthetic of gunmen negotiating on an apparently equal footing with the mightiest superpower on earth. (Emphasis added)
One thing I did note during this morning's Centcom briefing was that the Fallujah ceasefire was characterized as being a "unilateral suspension of offensive operations in Fallujah" (which did not preclude the right to return fire) by Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, and Dan Senor confirmed there are attempts to get a council delegation into Fallujah to have discussions with leaders there.

There's been much speculation (including perhaps the quoted paragraph from the Telegraph) but not a lot of facts. The problem remains: integrating the Sunni minority into Iraq society but still rooting out and, quite frankly, eliminating the deadenders which needs to be done if the country is going to shake off the bloody heritage of Saddam.

Posted by Debbye at 11:24 PM | Comments (4)

Sadr, Steyn, and Doggerel Pundit

Apr. 11 - It was unintentional, but I had three screens up and they complemented one another wonderfully: CNN, Mark Steyn, and Doggerel Pundit.

Muqtada al-Sadr, aka Militant cleric issues demands of coalition. First the obligatory victim card. They started it! He is a peaceful man. If you don't believe, just ask his spokesman.

I interpret it a bit differently: he was given a choice to play by the rules, he chose not to, and now he and his supporters are getting whacked. Life sucks when someone calls your bluff.

His demands are as follows:

Saddam should be tried by "a Supreme Court." [That means what?]
Sadr's supporters must be released.
Sadr wants a guaranteed date of withdrawal of all occupation forces from Iraq. [That is rich: he starts an armed insurrection and wants us to set the date for withdrawal.]

He has also called upon his followers to go on a 3-day strike. I'm all for that. On the third day, when they are disoriented and weak, we hit those who are still carrying guns.

On the other screen, Mark Steyn warns about being too afraid to rattle teacups.

The problem with this deference to the locals is that, partly in consequence, most of the folks who are getting rattled are on our side.
Pinpointed accuracy. People think Sadr is important because he says he is, and CNN et alia dutifully parrot his delusions.

Everyone is tired of the vapidness of the media. Doggerel Pundit has a new one up, Prayer of the Press, which is a timely commentary on the inability of the press to define anything except in Vietnam War era terminology:

Let us for ‘Quagmire’ thankful be.
We can all, without any thought, agree,
Though a vital job be a long hard pull;
Though it show result, it’s impossible.
Steyn too isn't happy about the unoriginal and non-analytical summation of events by Senator Kennedy:
Here's a good rule of thumb: The Pentagon's demonstrated in two wars now that it's got beyond Vietnam. If a politician or pundit can't, pay him no further heed. If Sen. Kennedy wants to give rhetorical aid and comfort to the enemy, he could at least be less lazy about it.
Laziness. That's an apt characterization for both Sen. Kennedy and the media.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 AM | Comments (1)

April 10, 2004

Italian PM Berlusconi visited Iraq

Apr. 10 - Cease-fire offered in Fallujah and a round-up of recent events has this nugget:

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Saturday arrived in southern Iraq for a surprise visit to Italian troops and regional leaders stationed in Nasiriya, his office in Rome said.
On the other hand, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is worried about the increased violence and we may lose Thai participation. They've had their own problems with terrorists in Thailand including some new ones.

Surprised that the goal of the insurgents (as well as al Qaeda) is to isolate us? No. That's always been part of their strategy.

Posted by Debbye at 10:21 AM | Comments (1)

April 09, 2004

Iraq Endgame III

Apr. 9 - Two U.S. soldiers and several contractors missing near Baghdad after a fuel convoy was attacked near Baghdad Airport; tribal leaders in Kut joined coalition forces to against Sadr's Mahdi Army; Briton Michael Bloss, who is working in Iraq as a security guard, was shot and killed.

There has been no change in the status of the three Japanese being held hostage.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 PM | Comments (1)

Iraq Endgame II (Updates)

Apr. 9 -

15:40: US Marines retake Kut and return fire in Fallujah. I don't know but that sure seemed like the shortest ceasefire in history ... anyone?

Greyhawk has been conducting daily morning briefings (Apr. 2, Apr. 5, Apr. 7, Apr. 8, and Apr. 9. [Why all the retroactive linkage? Because although I visit the page more than once a day, I become so absorbed that I forget that I am a blogger and should be sharing the news of this feature at Mudville Gazette.]

There is, by the way, further confirmation that the atrocities in Fallujah were planned:

But now it appears that the four private security contractors killed, burned and mutilated in Falluja last week were in fact lured into a carefully planned ambush by men they believed to be friendly members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, according to Patrick Toohey, a senior executive at the security firm, Blackwater USA.

The Iraqi men, Mr. Toohey said, promised the Blackwater-led convoy safe and swift passage through the dangerous city, but instead, a few kilometers later, they suddenly blocked off the road, preventing any escape from waiting gunmen.

"We were set up," he said.

Two senior Pentagon officials said yesterday that they could not independently confirm the conclusions of the Blackwater investigation, and that a separate military inquiry was continuing.

I'm also a bit late posting a Washington Times article exploring the links between Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran (Iran, Hezbollah support al-Sadr.) This was earlier reported by Iraqi bloggers including Sam, Zeyad (as well as one in which Zeyad reports that al-Sadr offered himself to be a "striking hand" for Hamas and Hezbollah,) and Omar.

CNN is trying to cover events in Iraq including the temporary so-called halt but better information is available at the US Dept. of Defense, Centcom, and the Defend America websites.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News gives the definitive reason why sending in the Blue Helmets is a no-go: it would still be US and British soldiers on the front lines but serving under a discredited U.N. leadership. My suggestion is that anyone who thinks that would be a good thing didn't pay attention to events in Somalia and Rwanda.

U.S. soldiers will not be cannon fodder to retain the illusion that the U.N. has any legal or moral authority. If the rest of the world truly wants a viable, international peacekeeping force, they can best do so by proving their readiness to send their own sons and daughters into battle in more than token numbers.

15:14: The much-touted news that Canada has increased the budget for its military is decidedly not cause for celebration after some reading about what the additional funding is for. See posts by Brock and Spin-Killer. (End update)

Speaking of the U.N., a Senate committee has asked US Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte to compile and supply the list of US contractors under the U.N. Oil-For-Food Program.

CNN is still referring to the attacks this past week as "unexpected." Unexpected by CNN correspondents who had been told repeatedly (and which they reported) after Centcom and DoD briefings that there would be an increase in attacks during the month of March and beyond as Iraq moved closer to the hand-over date? It baffles the mind.

Apr. 10 - 09:19: Firstly, terrific map.

Murdoc thinks that, although the counter-offensive wasn't unexpected, the level was. The level was heightened because the coalition choose now to move against Muqtada al-Sadr (which in retrospect makes strategic sense) and that the two factions have openly aligned themselves makes for some interesting speculations. The nice thing about sitting here at looking at events is that we can draw conclusions about that coalition that Centcom publicly can't. Yet those who declared vehemently that al Qaeda and Saddamites couldn't possibly have found common ground are witnessing it for themselves. Anticipate a chorus of "Yes, but .." arguments to explain it rather than admissions that the seeds were always present.

Murdoc also brings up something about which I've been reluctant to explore, the participation of the Iraqi police and special forces. I no longer trust the American media in Iraq (or at home) but maybe a picture is worth a thousand words. And he makes a further, possibly the most important point in this struggle:

We need the Iraqis to begin doing more. When Iraqis see Iraqis upholding law and order, Iraqis will begin to feel like they're moving ahead.
See the post above on how tribal leaders in Kut recognized they needed to act. Baby steps, maybe; but weren't those first steps the most important in a baby's development? That's why we remember them (and baby's first words) long after our kids have grown and built their own lives.

Pitching some more thoughts: what if the planned attacks in the UK as well as further attacks in Spain had actually happened this past week? What if the British hadn't moved so quickly into Kosovo? Or if attacks in France had succeeded? and attacks in the Phillippines hadn't been averted, and events in Uzbekistan had deteriorated further?

No, I can't prove anything. I'm only looking the landscape and doing a lot of wondering, but the question of whether there is a coordination to events requires at least contemplation, and the fact that this has been the week leading up to one of Christianity's most holy observances should not be discounted.

Posted by Debbye at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)

Canadian among hostages

Apr. 9 - A Canadian, Fadi Ihsan Fadel, is among those held hostage in southern Iraq. Mr. Fadel worked with the International Rescue Committee based in New York. His brother lives in Laval.

15:47: The Mohammadi Jihad Brigades has taken responsibility for the kidnappings, and Paul isn't happy about how the Canadian news media is depicting this group.

16:26: Reader Nik sends this link from the CBC. Burst into his house to kidnap him? I had mistakenly thought this was a random act.

Posted by Debbye at 10:43 AM | Comments (2)

April 07, 2004

Two fronts in Iraq III

Apr. 7 - News from Iraq:

From Fox: Mosque, Journalists Possible Targets in Iraq. You probably already know all the news in that report, but while everyone is focusing on US troops, I'd like us to remember that we have worthy allies in this fight:

-- Polish troops killed the head of the Karbala office of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr during clashes in the holy Shiite city, Iraqi police said. But Arab networks reported that "a member" — not the head — of al-Sadr's office was killed.
-- Ukrainian troops were forced to evacuate Kut early after enemy forces hit the position with mortar fire during the night. There were no Ukrainian casualties, but several dozen militants were killed.
-- Operations from the Syrian border to the Baghdad suburbs have resulted in the capture or death of a significant number of anti-Iraqi forces and foreign terrorists, the U.S. military said in a statement Wednesday.
-- Militiamen battled Spanish soldiers in Najaf, south of Baghdad; an Iraqi taxi driver was reportedly killed in the crossfire.
-- Al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army also had virtual control of Kufa and Karbala; Iraqi police allowed militiamen to move freely and acted only to prevent looting; militiamen in Karbala clashed with Polish patrols that moved through their areas.
(Iraqi police and special forces get an ambiguous mention, and I'm holding off comment while I try to unravel it.)

There's another major coalition member that rarely gets praise or notice:

Citizens remained in their homes during fighting there, the statement said. Several Iraqis called the coalition tip line to help identify, isolate and combat the insurgents, a U.S. military statement said.
Mosques haven't exactly been fired upon at the time of this report; Marines were being hit with fire from rebels hiding behind a wall so the Marines took out the wall.

And then there's this:

Meanwhile, Kimmitt vowed to "destroy" a Shiite militia that, along with Sunni Muslim guerrillas, waged the most extensive fighting since Bush declared the war over in May.
Bush declared the war over? No, not in May, not ever. That is an outright lie.

Oh, they got the report from AP. Right.

The evening CNN page reports that this is "a test of will" - oh wait, they are quoting Def. Sec. Rumsfeld. I should have known they wouldn't have figured that out for themselves.

"U.S. forces are on the offense. The United States and our partners and free Iraqi forces are taking the battle to the terrorists," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference in Washington.

"We're facing a test of will, and we will meet that test," he vowed.

I strongly suspect that the American people are with this appraisal, and that approval numbers will roar back now that we are finally moving against the enemy.

Only the press would fail to understand that numbers were going down due to inaction.

U.S. Marines carrying photographs were "systematically" going through Fallujah and had captured at least nine militants wanted in last week's killing and mutilation of U.S. civilian security contractors, Rumsfeld said.

A later Fox report covers Def. Sec. Rumsfelds determination to continue to stabilize and bring progress to Iraq, an update on a mosque that was taken and from which live mortar and ammunition was seized.

These last few days have been hard as we reflect on those in harm's way. We expect so much from them, and must demand the same of ourselves.

Strength. Courage. Resolve.

Posted by Debbye at 09:08 PM | Comments (3)

On Tyranny

Apr. 7 - Bob has written a thoughtful piece On Tyranny and reminds us of that one truth that must be our rock:

Our culture, our society, has stood confronted by fascism before, and far braver men and women than I were steadfast, because they knew one fundamental, irrevocable truth: We can't let them win.
Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 04:24 PM | Comments (1)

UN Oil for Food Scandal (ongoing)

Apr. 7 - Editorials in both the NY Times (Iraq Needs a Credible U.N.) and Opinion Journal (Saddam's U.N. Financiers) agree!

14:39: It's a coincidence that Roger L. Simon uses the same wording. Obviously he and I are on the same mailing lists.

Posted by Debbye at 01:41 PM | Comments (1)

Two fronts in Iraq II

Apr. 7 - My take: the current insurgency in Iraq is an opportunity to clean out the deadenders and fanatics, and it was handed to us on a golden platter. Go for it.

Furthermore, this doesn't place the handover of power to Iraqis in jeopardy but rather removes many of the risks of the handover. To use the phrase in use about poultry in Canada, we're "culling.".

Real Media pundits weigh in:

NYT columnist William Safire in Two-Front Insurgency:

All this means that we are now fighting an active two-front insurgency. That calls for a change in our strategy. ...

But now that the Saddam restorationists and Islamic fundamentalists have made their terrorist move on both fronts, we can counterattack decisively.

"In war, resolution." Having announced we would pacify rebellious Baathists in Falluja, we must pacify Falluja. Having designated the Shiite Sadr an outlaw, we must answer his bloody-minded challenge with whatever military force is required and with fewer casualties in the long run.

Safire advocates the US accept the Turkish offer to place 10,000 troops in Iraq; break the Iranian-Hezbollah-Sadr connection; and "coolly confront the quaking quagmirists here at home."

John Burns describes the detention of a NYT reporter and photographer by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and sums up that army as more milling about than militant.

Mark Steyn, as always, delivers the last word "a shaft of Steyn sunshine".

15:09: I'm wrong: ExPat gets in several last words covering the current battles from England - and battles the media, too. Excellent post.

I doubt Robert would be surprised that the "since Bush declared conflict over in May, 2003" phrase has been beaten into the ground here too. And CNN wonders why their ratings have plummeted?

Posted by Debbye at 12:43 PM | Comments (4)

April 06, 2004

Two fronts in Iraq

April 6 - A long, hard day. We said we would pay the price, and we knew it would include our tears. God bless the men and women who serve, and remember our allies: one Ukranian, one Salvadorean have been confirmed killed by enemy fire. (I'd also heard that 2 Spanish soldiers have been killed.)

The enemy's mistakes

Another mistake

Apr. 4 - Mustapha Yacoubi, close associate of Muqtada al-Sadr, arrested Apr. 3. Muqtada al-Sadr issues call to arms

In Najaf, two allied soldiers were killed, 20 Iraqis died and 210 were wounded after gunmen among 5,000 demonstrators opened fire at a base for Spanish soldiers.

In Amarah, near Basra, British troops were involved in fighting which led to four Iraqis dying.

Apr. 5 - Warrant for arrest of Muqtada al-Kadr issued by Iraqi judge for the Apr. 10, 2003, stabbing murder of Abdel-Majid al-Khoei killed outside a shrine in Najaf.
U.S. officials said the warrant against al-Sadr was issued months ago by an Iraqi judge and that Iraqis only now want to carry it out.
Apr. 6 - Marines lock down Fallujah

Taking car of some long, overdue business.

Apr. 6 - Fighting in Ramadi

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- As many as a dozen U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday in heavy fighting in the western Iraq town of Ramadi, the latest in a series of clashes with anti-coalition elements, Pentagon officials said.

The large-scale attack was mounted by suspected remnants of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, officials said.

Coalition forces fighting on two fronts
Backers of fiery anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked coalition forces in three cities — Italians in Nasiriyah, Britons in Samawah and Ukrainians in Kut — after a weekend of fighting that was especially intense in the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said U.S. troops have captured a number of people in Fallujah in the last 36 hours.

"They have photographs of a good many people who were involved in the attacks against the individuals and they have been conducting raids in the city against high-value targets," Rumsfeld said.

At the moment, about 135,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq — "an unusually high level," Rumsfeld said. American officials had expected to go down to about 115,000 troops when a series of rotations of new troops into and older troops out of the country was complete, Rumsfeld said.

Note: I wish I could remember which genius over a month ago mentioned that troop levels would be at an unusually high level. Good call.
The United States declared al-Sadr an "outlaw" after his militiamen battled coalition troops Sunday in Baghdad and outside Najaf in fights that killed 61 people — including eight U.S. soldiers.
New al Qaeda tape attributed to Zarqawi.

New al Qaeda tape takes responsibility for the Canal Hotel bombing Aug. 19, and attacks on

"the coalition forces in Karbala, the Italians in Nasiriya, the American forces in the Al-Khaldiya Bridge, the American intelligence in the Al-Shahine Hotel, the CPA in Baghdad, the CIA in the Al-Rashid Hotel, and the Polish military in Al-Hilla."
Portions call for religious warfare:
Al-Zarqawi was especially hostile toward the Shiite majority, calling them "idolaters" and traitors who allied themselves with "the enemies of Islam to seize control over Sunni Iraq."
Boasting about the death they have brought to Iraq taking credit for the bombing of the Mount Lebanon Hotel March 17 and the car bomb that killed Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr al-Hakim Aug. 29.
One theme of the tape echoed that of a letter U.S. authorities released earlier this year in which al-Zarqawi purportedly wrote to other al-Qaida leaders that the best way to undermine U.S. policy in Iraq was to turn the country's religious communities against each other.

Iraq's Shiite majority was suppressed under toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who favoured his own Sunni community. Saddam loyalists in heavily Sunni parts of the country and foreign fighters have been blamed for the bulk of attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

On the tape, the speaker said Shiite Iraqis were not true Muslims and were "the ears and the eyes of the Americans" in Iraq. He called upon Sunni Muslims in Iraq to "burn the earth under the occupiers' feet."

Beware the Tet Offensive Syndrome!

UPI editorialist Arnaud de Borchgrave agrees.

We're clearing some extremely bad characters out of Iraq. I fail to see that as being a problem.

Apr. 7 01:22: Expat Yank covers the view from the other side of the Atlantic.

And a new weapon has been unveiled by the Pentagon.

01:50: The British are also in the midst of troop rotations. 700 of 5,000 troops going into Iraq flew in today (Wednesday.) (Via Rantburg, who also has a good summary of Tuesday's events here.)

The Scotsman explains why the Iraqi elections should not be delayed.

Posted by Debbye at 09:40 PM | Comments (2)

April 05, 2004

Hessians? Think Again.

Apr. 5 - I wrote the post Andy Bradsell, KIA in Iraq, about an extraordinary Canadian who, with his partner Christopher McDonald, put themselves between a convoy of executives from the power plant and gunmen. Although the convoy did reach the power plant safely, Mr. Bradsell and Mr. McDonald were killed.

We call that service above and beyond.

I would ask that readers follow the link, not for my words but for the words of tribute from Andy's aunt, June Bradsell, and two several of his friends in the comments. Of especial concern is the pain caused by those who grabbed the label "mercenary" to shrug aside Bradsell's heroism, explain their lack of outrage over the events in Fallujah and who even invoked the despised Hessians of the late 18th century, the deployment of whom in colonial America was the cause of much grievance against Mother England.

We call that propaganda. We call that a deliberate distortion of the truth. We call that using a term that attempts to focus emotional images in the minds of Americans from the past as a way of excusing the ugliness of the present.

I've tried not to let my rage write this post, but it finally occurred to me that the fact that Americans started this mercenary nonsense was a good thing because I can take the gloves off when I'm dealing with my countryman whereas I try to be more diplomatic when dealing with Canadians.

The men we've lost in Iraq are among the bravest of the brave. It is precisely because they are there by choice that elevates them to a place of special respect and honour and the military personnel in Iraq consideres them partners, not impediments or competitors.

What don't those who contemptuously call these men "mercenaries" comprehend?

The actions of men like Bradsell, McDonald and those who died in Fallujah speak more eloquently than any words I can summon to describe such men.

What is it propagandists would have us forget? That Bradsell and McDonald deliberately put themselves in harm's way to protect those who are trying to stabilize the flow of electricity in Iraq? That Zovko, Teague, Helvenston and Batalona knew when they drove into Fallujah that they could be ambushed and deployed themselves to take the fire and allow the food convoy to get through?

Actually, yes. That diversion from the mission of contractors like these men and the others who are working in Iraq is exactly what they hoped to achieve. We got to squabbling about the term mercenary and forgot why their presence is vital to restoring Iraq.

Iraq is dangerous. There are many forces there who care very much that electricity flows are disrupted and food is scarce because they want to destablizing the country further. As they have demonstrated for the last 35 years, they care nothing for the welfare of the Iraqi people. Yet, due to the political polarisation over Operation Iraqi Freedom, their stealth tactics have caused many on the anti-war left who believe themselves to support a liberation struggle to say things and take positions that I think they will someday regret.

Many who presumed to speak out angrily on behalf of Iraqis who suffered electrical black-outs have been silent about both the attempts to restore service and those who would sabotage and disrupt those services. Many who anxiously warned of humanitarian disaster in the wake of the war have been silent about attempts to deliberately disrupt the delivery of food and supplies. That's their contradiction, not mine, and there will come a time when the more honest of them will see that their desire to defend their opposition to the Iraq war has led them to violate their own values.

Remember the human shields who piously and nobly headed to Iraq before the war? Mohammed does and quotes from his 2003 journal:

The worse I hate are those human shields. I hate them for their stupidity, what peace they seek? Don’t they think for one moment about what’s happening here? We’re already dead. Whom are they defending? I don’t know.
Today there are real human shields in Iraq, and they are contributing to the fight to restore life to Iraq after 35 years of living death. Maybe their importance is illustrated by what happens when they aren't present.

Web logger Bob Zangas, after being Iraq for 6 months with the USMC, returned as a civilian with the Public Affairs office with the Coaltion Provisional Authority. This was his final entry from Iraq. Bob was killed in an ambush on March 10:

Zangas, another CPA employee and their Iraqi interpreter were killed Tuesday evening when Iraqi policemen chased the vehicle in which they were riding, forced it off a road and then executed them with a hail of machine gunfire.

The three had been on a return trip to their fortified compound in Hilla after they had visited a newly opened Women's Rights Center in Karbala. The other American, Fern Holland, had worked as a lawyer in Oklahoma before coming to Iraq.

Bob, Fern Holland, and their interpreter were travelling without escort.

But the underlying question remains on the table: why do men like Bob Zangas and Andy Bradsell put themselves at risk in a country like Iraq? Is it for the money? Adventure? Or are they answering a higher calling?

Greyhawk over at Mudville Gazette answers this and other questions with a number of links to military bloggers in The "Mercenary" Response among which is Grimbeorn who proclaims himself to be a mercenary and explains why he volunteered (note that I tried to excerpt this, but dang! the entire post is wonderful):

All the identified are former members of the US military. So what are they doing in Iraq?

I can answer, as I volunteered for such a deployment earlier this year--although my employer preferred to keep me working at another GWOT project in the USA. I volunteered recently for a deployment to Kabul, about which I've not yet heard.

I would be surprised to learn that these men differed very much in motives. Like them, I joined the military--the USMC--right out of high school, largely for patriotic reasons, though also out of a youth's desire for adventure. My service ended in 1994. On 9/11, I abandoned the career I'd embarked upon and started looking for ways to return to service.

Damned straight. And Beorn is hardly alone: most of us responded to Sept. 11 with a desire to do something, anything, to defend our country and values.
The military has strict caps on how many people it can have, though, at every grade. The USMC, being the smallest, has the least room--and the wave of volunteers that came with 9/11 meant that recruitment was, and remains, topped out. There was simply no room.

There are also age limits, and in the years since 9/11, I've run afoul of them. Even if room opened up now, I couldn't return because I'm too old.

But our service is still needed. I went looking for other ways to serve, since the military was closed to me. I found it in the 'mercenary service,' which allows me to work hand in hand with the US military. I've worked on projects for every branch of the service, and most of the global commands.

Estimates on just how many people like me there are run wild, and no one is really sure. It seems likely to be at least one "contractor" to every five servicemen, but it may be as high as one to one.

Many bring skills that they've gotten later in life, which broadens the range of talent and knowledge beyond what the military itself has to offer. Deployments are not much less gentle than the military's own, although they are softened a bit by being purely volunteer--you can leave, if you really want to. Few do.

This is what US mercenaries are like. They exist at all because the Congress and DOD bureaucracy aren't realistic about the force levels needed, and cling to outmoded concepts like age limits. As with anything else in a free society, where there is a demand that isn't being met, a service appears to meet it. I would rather be in uniform; but since I cannot be, I'll do this instead. (Emphasis added.)

Read the whole thing; I'm actually quoting Beorn quoting himself, and he has a lot more to say about answering the call to freedom in whatever capacity he can and about some of those with whom he serves. A snippet:
Most people in these various defense contractor, "Private Military Company" firms are former military, but there are also many who aren't, people who admire the military but who aren't made to be soldiers. They still want to do their part, and they do. Some of them have skills that are rare in the military, too--I know a lot of Arabists like that, including quite a few non-US citizens who want to be a part of what America is doing, but whose nations aren't in the Coalition--Syrians, Egyptians, and Sudanese. They can't serve in their own nation's armies, but they can still help make a stand against terrorism.
We have, therefore, a collection of people who wish to make a stand. I know just how they feel. Were I several decades younger I'd be there, but I'm stuck in this (ahem) mature body and can only wield my keyboard in this fight. And you know what? It's not enough! My heart burns to be doing more, to stand up taller and higher so I can shout to the world "Let Freedom Ring!"

God, how many of us feel like that! I don't want to stand foursquare behind our troops, I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and join in this mighty struggle. And I honour, revere and even envy those who can and do.

Soldier and civilian, contractor and armed guard, all are necessary to this fight. They are engaged in the most audacious and noble enterprise ever known to humanity: the struggle to bring freedom to the oppressed and the fight against those who seek to put forward another Saddam as the bringer of death and cruelty to the people of Iraq.

Those who call civilians like Andy Bradsell "mercenary" might do well to consider what Jason Van Steenwyk calls them: partners.

I should say that I had the privilege to meet many civilian contractors and security professionals from all over the world. Most of them were there supplementing coalition forces security, or providing needed logistical or security services to US troops and to the Iraqi people.

Most of the American contractors I talked to had served 20 years on active duty with the US military in one capacity or another.

Unlike my troops, these guys could have left at any time, just by saying "I quit" and catching a ride to Baghdad or Kuwait. Instead, despite the risks, they chose to stay.

They are, in every sense, our partners. And their families, I'm sure, loved them and missed them and feared for their safety just as fervently as ours.

Anyone who tries to force a moral distinction between our soldiers and these civilians who served alongside us--who dismisses them as "mercenaries" in it for the "pecuniary interests alone," and anyone who buys into that idea, is merely displaying a frightening degree of ignorance.

So it occurs to me that the reason some have targeted the civilians who protect and defend other contractors is precisely that they are there by choice and by conviction. It kind of ruins the image of US soldiers who have no choice to be there and are thus victims of the Bush administration, doesn't it? Of course, the fact that re-enlistment targets have been met ruins that image anyway, but why let facts get in the way of propaganda?

Andy Bradsell was a Canadian. Andy heard the call of freedom and served that call by contributing his skills to advancing that cause. I call him a warrior, not only because he was fortunate enough to have the requisite skills that allowed him to follow the path of a warrior, but because he was willing to fight and die for his beliefs.

Don't you get it? Andy Bradsell stood on guard for thee!

There are so few people like Bradsell, McDonald, Zangas, Holland, Teague, Helvenston, Batalona and Zovko. They will long be remembered for their heroism. That's not a bad place in history to occupy.

Apr. 6 09:26: Warren suggests we begin using the term paladin to describe the security forces in Iraq. I like it.

10:18: Private guards repell attack on US HQ in Najaf:

An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident.

Before U.S. reinforcements could arrive, the firm, Blackwater Security Consulting, sent in its own helicopters amid an intense firefight to resupply its commandos with ammunition and to ferry out a wounded Marine, the sources said.

Read the whole thing. Commandos, mercenaries, armed security guards, call them what you will. Warren is right: they are paladins, champions, fighters for a cause.

Apr. 11: We have another paladin to add to the roll of honour: Michael Bloss:

Michael Bloss, 38, a former paratrooper, died in a gun battle after leading civilian contractors to safety. They had come under fire near the town of Hit, about 110 miles west of Baghdad.
Honour those who serve!

Apr. 21 16:11 There is a Canadian-based honour role of The Fallen for security personnel who have died in the line of duty.

Posted by Debbye at 12:23 PM | Comments (14)

April 02, 2004

Fallujah (Updated)

Apr. 2 - There are some disturbing implications in portions of the NY Times article The Occupation: Mix of Pride and Shame Follows Killings and Mutilation by Iraqis. (Excerpted out of order)

On Thursday, several Falluja residents spoke of the attack against the Americans in admiring terms. "It was a very good ambush," said Mr. Khalifa, the spare-parts seller. He said he was driving to work in downtown Falluja around 10 a.m. on Wednesday when he passed some men alongside the road who frantically waved at him and said: "Go back! Go back! Something is about to happen."

Mr. Khalifa, 38, said the men, some wearing masks, some carrying guns, cleared the streets so that when the security consultants rolled into town in two sport utility vehicles, they were the only cars on the road.

Within seconds, Mr. Khalifa said, the gunmen blasted the cars, killing the Americans, and melted back into the streets. Then the mobs came. Iraqi television crews caught the end of the mayhem. The images beamed worldwide were reminiscent of scenes from Somalia in 1993, when a mob dragged the body of an American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu. (Emphasis added)

Mr. Khalifa's account makes the resultant mob appear less than spontaneous - they were prepared for "something" to happen - and possibly even orchestrated. Furthermore, earlier reports stated that al Jazeera was also there.
The families of three of the victims confirmed their identities. They were Jerry Zovko, 32, an Army veteran from Willoughby, Ohio; Michael Teague, 38, an Army veteran from Clarksville, Tenn.; and Scott Helvenston, a Navy veteran from Big Bear, Calif. The company the men worked for, Blackwater U.S.A. of Moyock, N.C., declined to identify them.

In the morning, a team of American officials rushed to a meeting with Falluja's mayor and top clerics. American officials said the clerics promised to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, at Friday Prayer to condemn the ambush and the grisly aftermath. One of the gravest sins in Islam is desecrating the dead.

Sometimes, it seems as if American overseers have few friends. But on Thursday, a group of clerics and policemen helped the American authorities recover the bodies of the four security consultants. After the four were shot, they were yanked from burning vehicles by a jeering mob and dragged to a bridge over the Euphrates River where at least two bodies were strung up by a rope and dangled over the water.

Other reports note that the killing wasn't condemned, although the aftermath was. And however much the mutilations and desecrations may anger us, the Marines and Iraqi police probably made the right call in waiting to intervene (although yes, I'd far prefer they had used lethal force to disperse the mob. But that's an admittedly easy thought coming from this side of the world.)

Today's Washington Times editorial calls for an Apollonian rather than a Dionysian response.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force had only been assigned to the area last week, but the necessity of confronting the action in Fallujah means they will focus less on the reconstruction problems and more on rooting out the insurgents. We can make that of what we will.

I'm not even going to pretend to know what the families of are going through, but my heart goes out to them. They were all men who had bravely served their country and, like Canadian Andy Bradsell, were warriors in the finest tradition.

Never forget those who serve - in whatever capacity.

16:15: After itemizing a surprisingly lucid al Qaeda summation of US goals and aims in bringing democracy to Arabs countries, Stephen den Beste gets to the heart of the matter:

The key to achieving most of that is establishment of a relatively successful liberal democracy in Iraq, which was the primary reason for the invasion (rhetoric about WMDs notwithstanding). And it can't be done unless the Sunnis participate and are accepted by the Kurds and Shiites.
Therein lies the need for a skillful response.

17:15: Peggy Noonan says we've got the grinning faces of those who celebrated the desecrations on tape, so arrest (or kill) them, and blow up the bridge. She too doubts this was entirely spontaneous, but we need to send a message that "savagery is yesterday."

17:40: Wretchard offers his (?) usual incisive analysis of crafting our response and notes there was good reason to believe an ambush was set up for the anticipated 1st MEF's dash into Fallujah to retrive the bodies.

Apr. 3 - 20:42: Belmont Club gleans a lot of information from the Washington Post article Fallujah Plan is Readied (which is based in part on this ABC report Anatomy of the Attack.) There are indeed strong reasons for believing that the attack was an ambush (and that the men were prepared for that possibility going in) as well as a possibility that there was complicity with Iraqi security forces in Fallujah. He analyzes the cordon around Fallujah and probable strategic decisions in Command Decision.

Mohammed of Iraq the Model remind us what these unemployed special forces people are really like here (and if you haven't been following his series "Days I do not want to forget" then you're missing some moving writing.)

Many thanks to Jay Reding for posting the bios and pictures of Jerry Zovko, Michael Teague, and Scott Helvenston. Their final action was to see that the convoy got through.

23:26: The NY Times has an article about the men Familes of Men Slain by Mob Focus on Their Lives, Not How They Died.

Apr. 5 - 16:16: The fourth victim in Fallujah has been identified as Wesley J. Batalona of Honokaa, Hawaii. Mr. Batalona, 48, was a former Army Ranger who went to Iraq because he wanted to help:

"He thought the people over there were good people," his sister-in-law, Darla Baquiring, said yesterday. "That's why he was over there. To help the children."
Always honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 12:42 PM | Comments (1)

March 31, 2004

Iraq (Updates)

Mar. 31 - I'm not going to deny that this makes me angry.

But it doesn't make me lose my head and it sure as hell doesn't shake my resolve.

Don't they get it? Sure, there was a time when that kind of barbarity could horrify us and have us stand with our fists clenched in our mouths totally aghast at the dreadfulness of it all BUT NOT ANY MORE.

Something happened a few years back and we left la-la land.

We call people like those who participated in this recent event deadenders because we hunt them down, kill them, and bury them.

22:20: Mark Steyn's thoughts.

Apr. 1 - 12:07: 2nd CNN link added to last paragraph, and, again, note who ran (NGOs) and who stayed (Halliburton.) V-P Dick Cheney's old company keeps looking better and better; how fast do you think TotalFinaElf would have skedaddled?

13:20: Omar issues a firm response to this atrocity.

13:45: Ralph Peters looks at the causes and effects and closes with this:

We're learning. Future occupations elsewhere - and we shall see them, like it or not - will benefit from lessons learned in Iraq. Meanwhile, it's essential that Americans do not succumb to the media hype implying that the atrocities in Fallujah were a defeat. On the contrary, they underscored the frustration and exasperation of enemies who can only bring off small-scale bombings and assassinations.

Confident enemies do not drag bodies through the streets and mutilate corpses. The grim display in Fallujah was a symbol of weakness, not a sign of strength.

Mudville Gazette has a round up of Milblog reactions - must reads.

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 PM | Comments (8)

March 30, 2004

Andy Bradsell, KIA in Iraq

Mar. 30 - Canadian Andy Bradsell, a security agent in Iraq, was killed in action on Sunday, March 28. Mr. Bradsell, a former British Royal Marine, died in the line of duty in northern Iraq:

"Andy was in the rear vehicle and they were escorting the client to the power plant," Larson said. "When they were close to the power plant three vehicles with armed men came along side."

Bradsell and his partner sped forward to put themselves between the gunmen and the client.

While they took the fire, the other vehicle sped ahead and managed to pull away safely, but Bradsell and his partner were killed.

Mr. Bradsell was employed by Olive Security, a British security company.

Mr. Bradsell came from Vancouver, and leaves behind a wife and 3 children.

Our deepest respects and condolences to his family.

UPDATE: More information here (brief link life) which is also to linked from Madagascar News.

Apr. 5 - 09:01: The memorial service held on Apr. 2 invoked many images of Andy Bradsell, and he seems to have been an assertive, confident man who was unafraid to be true to himself.

One friend laughingly remembered Bradsell as he was in high school, all tattoos, earrings and tough guy demeanour.

When the teenager's family had a litter of kittens to give away, he grilled prospective owners on the quality of home the animal would have.

It's tempting to compare Mr. Bradsell with other "human shields" except for one fact: unlike those who talked much and did nothing, Mr. Bradsell and his partner, Christopher McDonald, were truly human shields, who deliberately put themselves between the assasins and the convoy they were escorting. My oldest remarked "They knew they could die."

That is the definition of hero.

Apr. 21 16:07 Andy Bradsell has taken his place on the honour roll of The Fallen.

May 11 June sent me this photo of Andy and family to post:

Andy Bradsell.jpg

and this picture of Hunter:

Hunter big eyes.jpg

Posted by Debbye at 07:30 PM | Comments (83)

March 29, 2004

UN Oil for Food Scandal

Mar. 29 - More publications are taking a closer look at the corruption in the UN Oil for Food program (except the Canadian media. Right. Or maybe that should be Left.)

William Safire has another op-ed today on the UN Oil for Food Program and has maybe given the scandal a name: Follow-Up to Kofigate. I'm going to do something wrong and quote the entire column (curse you NYT and your 2-week link life):

Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal.

At least $5 billion in kickbacks went from corrupt contractors — mainly French and Russian — into the pockets of Saddam and his thugs. Some went to pay off his protectors in foreign governments and media, and we may soon see how much stuck to the fingers of U.N. bureaucrats as well.

Responding to a harangue in this space on March 17, the spokesman for Kofi Annan confirmed that the secretary general's soft-spoken son, Kojo, was on the payroll of Cotecna Inspections of Switzerland until December 1998. In that very month, the U.N. awarded Cotecna the contract to monitor and authenticate the goods shipped to Iraq.

Prices were inflated to allow for 10 percent kickbacks, and the goods were often shoddy and unusable. As the lax Cotecna made a lot of corporate friends, Iraqi children suffered from rotted food and diluted medicines.

The U.N. press agent also revealed that Benon Sevan, Annan's longtime right-hand man in charge of the flow of billions, was advised by U.N. lawyers that the names of companies receiving the contracts were "privileged commercial information, which could not be made public." Mr. Sevan had stonewalling help.

To shift responsibility for the see-no-evil oversight, the U.N. spokesman noted that "details of all contracts were made available to the governments of all 15 Security Council members." All the details, including the regular 10 percent kickback to the tune of $5 billion in illegal surcharges? We'll see.

To calm the belated uproar, Annan felt compelled to seek an "independent high-level inquiry," empowered by a Security Council resolution, as some of us called for.

Nothing doing, said France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sablière. The money for the huge heist known as the Iraq-U.N. account passed exclusively through BNP Paribas. French companies led all the rest (what's French for "kickback"?), though Vladimir Putin's favorite Russian oligarchs insisted on sharing the wealth. That explains why Paris and Moscow were Saddam's main prewar defenders, and why their politicians and executives now want no inquiry they cannot control.

Nor are the White House and State Department so eager for a real investigation, because as the truth emerges, the U.N. may use the furor as cover for refusal to confer its blessing on the new Iraq. Our present and former U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. would have to take issue with Annan if he tried to hide under their wing. Peter Burleigh and Andrew Hillman, our frequent representatives on the "661 committee" — so named for a sanctions resolution — are not about to be the U.N.'s scapegoats.

If the secretary general appoints a Franco-Russian Whitewash Team, to whom can the world turn?

1. The Iraqi government-in-formation. Spurred by Kurds who have been blowing the whistle on this superscam for five years, free Iraq has hired accountants and lawyers to sift through captured bills and contracts in Baghdad. Former spooks are freelancing usefully. Paul Bremer, our man in Baghdad, has placed a trove of additional half-corrupted tapes and damaged and damaging documents under seal to be turned over after June 30, Sovereignty Day.

2. The House International Relations Committee's chairman, Henry Hyde, whose interviewers are in New York today, will hold initial hearings on April 21. Congress's investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, will testify about the scope of the chicanery that it estimates at $10 billion (including Saddam's clandestine oil smuggling to Syria and Jordan). It's a start that should awaken Senate Foreign Relations as well as Justice.

3. The press, stimulated by U.N. stonewalling, is on the trail.

Al Mada led the way. Already denying the feisty Iraq newspaper's findings are a former French interior minister, a pro-Saddam member of Britain's Parliament, Arab writers and a financier reportedly behind a Scott Ritter film. The Times, Wall Street Journal and Sunday Telegraph have been exposing the outline of what Newsday admits is "the most underreported story of the year." Among magazines, National Review is out front with no interest shown by The New Yorker and Newsweek.

All of us need an embittered whistleblower. If an ex-U.N. type named Shaukat Fareed reads this — call me.

Safire is overlooking an important point here: the call for a full inquiry is better coming from Iraq, which suffered because of it, than the US, which may have lost prestige and remains accused of continuing sanctions which harmed the people of Iraq but is still not the primary victim.

From Roger L. Simon is a link to an article in an Australian paper, The Age, Scandal bubbles to surface. The author, Roger Franklin, takes a deeper look at the Oil for Food program and emphasizes this point:

Again, the UN's stonewalling makes it hard to determine exactly how much was fleeced, but there are some tantalising hints. Before Oil for Food was handed over to Iraq, the UN conducted an urgent, last-minute review of thousands of contracts.

Rosett calls it a "house cleaning", but whatever description is used, some 1500 supplier contracts - one in four - were immediately suspended or banned outright from further participation.

So where did the money go? Into Saddam's pocket is a good guess, with lesser amounts creamed off by the operators of front companies, smugglers and, perhaps, even UN officials.

According to the best estimate of the non-partisan US Government Accounting Office, Oil for Food generated at least $10 billion for Saddam's family, and a further $1 billion to pay the 1000-plus UN bureaucrats who were supposed to be keeping it honest.

Again, the focus is on Kofi Annan, who helped set up Oil for Food in 1997 and installed his close friend and fellow diplomat Benon Sevan as its director. Last week, with Rosett's series igniting a firestorm over the UN, Mr Sevan was not answering his phone. According to a UN spokesman, he is using up accumulated leave before retiring.

For his part, a po-faced Mr Annan now concedes "it is highly possible there has been quite a lot of wrongdoing", and has authorised an internal investigation.

Neither Rosett nor congressional investigators hold much hope it will be more than a whitewash. The UN has other matters it would much prefer to talk about, like a $1.2 billion interest-free loan from Washington to renovate its decaying New York HQ. George Bush has rejected the request, saying the UN could have the money at the standard interest rate charged to American home buyers. (My emphasis)

This article also appears in New Zealand News (link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Niles Lathem in today's NY Post doesn't waste time with nuance in 3,000 U.N. Staffers Probed (no, not that kind of probe! Sheesh.):

Investigators probing the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program are taking a close look at allegations the scandal-plagued initiative was filled with spies, terrorists and do-nothing bureaucrats earning exorbitant salaries.
But new questions have surfaced about the presence on the oil-for-food program's administrative staff of a bureaucrat who was widely known to be an undercover agent for the intelligence service of France, a country that had huge financial interests in the program.

Kurdish officials in northern Iraq also made repeated complaints about the fact that Iraq, with U.N. approval, kept Americans, Britons and Scandinavians off the staff that administered the 13 percent of the oil-for-food proceeds earmarked for Kurdish provinces. Only workers from countries perceived to be friendly to Iraq were approved. Howard Ziad, the Kurdish representative to the United Nations, told The Post that Kurdish authorities made repeated complaints to U.N. higher-ups that the staff assigned to his region was riddled with spies working for Iraqi intelligence.

In July 2001, Kurdish security forces arrested a Tunisian U.N. employee with a car full of explosives meant for a terror bombing in Erbil. He was held for four months until the United Nations quietly negotiated his release, Ziad said.

Now the near-automatic oh come on, this is a silly accusation reflex meets a caution: The Kurds have been in the forefront of exposing this program since 1998. Do those who have discounted their claims for the last 5 years have the moral stomach to scoff at them again?

There are many who will point out that the United Nations is still the best vehicle for international cooperation and peace mechanism we have at present and must be maintained at any cost.

But as a wise (albeit fictional) being once said, some things can come at too high a price, and in this instance, a very high price is being paid to sustain a mere illusion, and I'm not simply referring to monetary expenditures but to the ignored hopes and aspirations of the world's oppressed and destitute. I have my doubts that the UN can be fixed, but according to the article Voting Bloc from Reason Online, there is a bi-partisan effort to form a caucus of democracies at the UN which could either force reform or even supersede the UN.

The interesting part is that this is actually getting approval from both branches of government which shape foreign policy: the executive and legislative:

Since 1996, a handful of foreign-policy wonks have been kicking around the idea of a "democracy caucus" at the U.N. Two administrations, first Bill Clinton's and then George W. Bush's, took quiet but significant steps in that direction. Now, according to Bush administration officials, the concept will be test-flown at the six-week meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights that began on Monday in Geneva.
On Capitol Hill, support is strong in both parties. In 2003 the House overwhelmingly passed a bill, still awaiting Senate action, requiring (among other things) that the U.S. seek a democracy caucus. "It's a very high priority for a number of us who want to push it through," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who is the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, and whose co-sponsor is House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif. In the Senate, Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on Foreign Relations, is sponsoring a similar resolution.

Two things strike me: it would be refreshing to have an international organization in which France, Russis and China didn't have veto power, and so far as I can determine, only two or possible three Mid-East countries would even qualify to join, those being Iraq and Israel and perhaps Turkey, although admission to the EU somewhat emphasizes the part of Turkey that is in Europe. Many African nations would have to stop pretending that they are the moral equality of functioning democracies.

And Canada - what indeed of Canada?

PM Paul Martin said at a recent Geneva conference that the The future of the U.N. lies with Canada, and the future of Canada lies with the U.N.. Kofi Annan was lauded by the same Liberal Party government which is now vainly trying to claim ignorance of the misdeeds we call Adscam.

Do Canadians who rely exclusively on Canadian media have any notion that the UN is at the center of a scandal of this magnitude? They are certainly aware that, ten years after the fact, the UN has finally figured out that they failed in Rwanda, but have Canadian sensibilities reached 2004? As a taxpayer in Canada I am furious that my tax dollars have been stolen, but the $100 million misdirected through Adscam is mere chicken feed compared to $11 billion unaccounted for by the UN and that scandal truly resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

The U.N. bureaucracy is just as culpable for what happened in Iraq as for what happened in Rwanda and for is happening in the Sudan. Will they require another ten years to work those out? Can the Sudanese afford to wait?

I want to know if PM Martin actually recognized exactly what he was saying when he proclaimed that Canada's future lay in the U.N.

Yep, Glenn Reynolds and Roger Simon are much faster than I.

But I'm still nastier: Anyone else wondering if Kofi Annan is one of the international leaders who has confided his hope that John Freakin' Kerry wins the presidency?

[N. B.: I'm aware of Reason Online's bias, but then I still read the NY Times and Washington Post too.]

20:59: WaPo link to their mild Oil for Food Program article fixed.

Posted by Debbye at 01:11 PM | Comments (7)

Mark Steyn Reprise

Mar. 29 - Mark has reprinted some of his columns during the Iraq War and this latest is one of my favourites from the Mar. 27, 2003 National Post in his Topical Take.

He was writing on the media take of the war (for some weird reason he chose to watch CBC, which he likened to attending a White Russian tea party in 1917) and was commenting on the oh my god they're bogged down and some people have died and others been taken prisoner, it's like a war there frenzy that went on at CNN that must have been even sillier at CBC.

Steyn knocked me off my chair when I read this last year and Damn! It's still right on target:

... The best way to honour the dead is to press on to victory. Fleet Street has a diverse press from gung-ho right-wingers to unrepentant Stalinists. But it doesn’t have a lot of mushy ninnies for whom a run of bad luck is cause to question the entire strategy. There are times when there’s something to be said for stiff-upper-lipped public-school emotional repression, and war is one of them.

Then, at the weekend, it was the Pentagon’s turn for a run of bad luck, from a US Muslim soldier going postal on his comrades to the parading of American prisoners on Iraqi TV. And the big networks collectively decided that somehow they’d been misled about how “easy” it was supposed to be, and ever since have been convinced that the war plan’s a bust. General Franks has been transformed from the new MacArthur into the new MacArthur Park: someone left his cakewalk in the rain, we don’t think that he can take it ‘cause it took so long to bake it and he’ll never find that recipe again. Oh, no.

It's too bad the recent anti-war columnists didn't re-run their columns and dire predictions from the second week of the war.

Okay, Mark also has a new column, this one about Nader's candidacy:

AND, OF course, lurking in the Democrats' darkest nightmare is the spectre of November 2000: Nader angrily denies he's a spoiler, claiming that what he brings to the election are groups who wouldn't normally vote.

That's true. In a normal election, the Supreme Court wouldn't have wound up voting, but, thanks to Ralph's showing in Florida, they did.

Ba da boom.

Posted by Debbye at 04:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2004

UN Oil for Food Scandal

Mar. 25 - Two articles by Niles Lathem in the New York Post. From yesterday, U.N. Stalling Iraq Gov't Probe of $ecret Oil Acct.:

March 24, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - U.N. bureaucrats are stonewalling requests from Iraq's new government for records from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food account set up in Saddam Hussein's handpicked French bank, officials said yesterday.

The mysterious activities over the handling of the U.N. account at the French banking giant BNP Paribas, where $100 billion worth of oil-for-food transactions flowed until the war, has emerged as a central focus of several investigations in the wake of the massive bribery-kickback scandal that has rocked the world body at its highest levels.

United Nations custody of the account was so secretive and unusual that even Saddam, who stole $10.1 billion from the program and bribed sympathetic pols with some of the proceeds, pressed unsuccessfully to have the account transferred out of the bank he originally insisted handle the program, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, the British businessman advising Iraq's Governing Council on the issue.

"The key question in this investigation is, what was the relationship between the U.N. and this French bank?" Hankes-Drielsma added.

Link via Jack's Newswatch

And from today, U.N. Let Saddam Rob Us Blind: Kurds:

March 25, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The United Nations allowed Saddam Hussein to shortchange Iraqi Kurds out of billions of dollars from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food program, and funds for the oppressed population mysteriously vanished after the war, The Post has learned.

Howar Ziad, the Kurdish liaison to the United Nations, revealed in an interview new details about the extent of mismanagement and corruption within the $100 billion U.N. humanitarian program - portions of which were mandated to be spent in the semiautonomous Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq.

"We don't know what happened to the money," Ziad said. "We have been requesting for months a straightforward accounting of how the accounts operated and how they were managed. But we have not received a reply from the U.N."

Ziad accused U.N. bureaucrats of "political appeasement" of Saddam's greedy regime, and said they ignored longstanding complaints by the Kurds about corruption within the program that resulted in vital aid not reaching the people most in need.

(Link via Roger Simon.)

Bit by bit, it will come out.

Posted by Debbye at 08:47 PM | Comments (7)

March 22, 2004

James Lileks

Mar. 22 - Lileks is angry today and when when he rolls, it's all to the good.

BUT the guy with the sign isn't (strictly speaking) a traitor. He's a lot of things including an idiot, a maroon, a 33rd degree moonbat, and a few more things but there are real traitors in the US and I don't want that word diluted to include the oh-so-very-clever nut fringe less we forget those who have actively collaborated with our enemies to destroy us.

UPDATE Mar. 23 - 01:07: Robert over at ExPat Yank argues for the need for a third term which can define someone like the nut in the photo.

Murdoc points that this sign is treasonous (and for the record, troops to Vietnam were deployed by air, not by sea.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:46 AM | Comments (11)

March 19, 2004

Marking this day

Mar. 19 - Good for Denise! She chose an appropriate way to mark today by reprinting the President's speech delivered One Year Ago as the Iraq War commenced.

The President marked this day with a speech in the East Room before an audience that included the Ambassadors from Great Britain, France and Germany. He extended the sympathies of the American people to the ambassador from Spain, and re-stated our purpose:

On a tape claiming responsibility for the atrocities in Madrid, a man is heard to say, "We choose death while you choose life." We don't know if this is the voice of the actual killers, but we do know it expresses the creed of the enemy. It is a mindset that rejoices in suicide, incites murder and celebrates every death we mourn.

And we who stand on the other side of the line must be equally clear and certain of our convictions. We do love life, the life given to us and to all. We believe in the values that uphold the dignity of life: tolerance and freedom and the right of conscience. And we know that this way of life is worth defending.

There is no neutral ground -- no neutral ground -- in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death.The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation.

The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies, they're offended by our existence as free nations.

No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions are to control the peoples of the Middle East and to blackmail the rest of the world with weapons of mass terror.

There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for all nations.

The only certain way to protect our people is by united and decisive action.

In this contest of will and purpose, not every nation joins every mission or participates in the same way. Yet every nation makes a vital contribution, and America is proud to stand with all of you as we pursue a broad strategy in the war against terror.

Eloquent, sincere, and straight on the path. He reminded all that we and those with whom we've recently disagreed still stand together in the larger war against terrorism, and that although paths may deviate and detour, he works to keep unity toward the ultimate goal.

I read a biography of Robert the Bruce years ago and the author stressed how often and doggedly the Bruce would go the extra mile to build the fragile coalition he had formed with the quarrelsome Scots to unite Scotland under his kingship and to stand against the English.

When I see the president rise above the meanness and sometimes vindictiveness of other leaders (and even some of our own) it impresses upon me anew that there's too much at stake in this battle to let the small stuff distract us from our objective.

Maybe he also read that biography. Certainly he goes the extra mile.

We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire. We will not falter. We will not fail.

UPDATE: US Deputy Sec. of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has a guest op-ed in the NY Post in which he explains how a democratic Iraq means Terror is Losing. (Link from Roger L. Simon.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

APTN discussion of Iraq

I received an email about an upcoming broadcast on APTN (the Aboriginal People's Television Network):

Iraq 1 Year Later: Liberated or Colonized?
LIVE Friday March 19 @ 8 pm et / 5 pt
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
(Read details in extended.)

Coming up this Friday on Contact - it's been one year since the US invaded Iraq. What's changed? Did the war make life better or worse for the people of Iraq, not just now but in the long term? Is the world a safer place because Saddam Hussein is gone?

Critics say the war was about oil, greed and power, that the US and its allies had no right to invade. But supporters say Saddam Hussein had to go, and the Iraqi people were in no position to do it themselves. Now, one year later, people wonder whether Iraq is headed to a new future, and when, if ever, the US will leave.

Join us *live* this Friday at 8 pm et, 7 ct, as we discuss the war and occupation of Iraq. To take part, call toll free 1-877-647-2786 or email contact@aptn.ca during the show.

Posted by Debbye at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)

Nexus of Terrorism

Mar. 19 - I fell asleep on the couch shortly after No. 1 Son left last night. I wonder why? The real question: am I looking too closely, or are there signs that al Qaeda and other terrorists have started a major counter-offensive? Events in Syria and Iran indicate that the forces for freedom are also on the move.

Mar. 2 - Multiple attacks on Shiite commemoration of Ashura in Iraq.

Mar. 4 - Abdul Raouf Naseeb captured in Yemen.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahaman Khadr admits family closely connected to al Qaeda

Mar. 4 - Sunni and Shiite clerics march together in Iraq to protest terrorism.

Mar. 4 - Insurrection in Iran.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahman Khadr says he was a CIA agent in Bosnia.

Mar. 5 - Palestinian civil war begins?

Mar. 8 - Interim Iraq Constitution signed

Mar. 8 - Int'l Women's Day march in Iran attacked by security forces

Mar. 9 - North Korea issues rhetoric, withdraws from meaningful talks

Mar. 9 - Abu Abbas dies

Mar. 11 - Terrorist attack in Spain.

Mar. 12 - Millions of Spaniards demonstrate against terrorism

Mar. 13 - Uprisings in Iran

Mar. 14 - Elections in Spain, appeasers voted in.

Mar. 14 - Two terrorist attacks in Ashod, Israel, kills 10

Mar. 15 - Israel retaliates

Mar. 15 - New Spanish government announces they will withdraw from Iraq.

Mar. 15 - Polish government says Fine, we'll carry on without Spain

Mar. 15 - Uprisings in Syria, Iran.

Mar. 15 - Vandals in north Toronto target homes of Jewish citizens with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Mar. 16 - Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir (aka Kahlid Ali Hajj, "The Poet") killed in Saudi Arabia

Mar. 16 - Group with possible Chechen links threaten French over head-scarf ban

Mar. 17 - Mount Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad hit by car bomb

Mar. 17 - Renewal of violence in Kosovo.

**Mar. 17 - Spain goverment received communique dated Mar. 15 claiming to be from al Qaeda which declared a cease-fire with Spain.

Mar. 18 - Pakistan troops heavily engaged in battle in north, may have surrounded al Zawahiri.

Mar. 18 - Additional troops go into Kosovo in response to renewed violence.

Mar. 18 - British announce additional 650 (+-) British troops to be deployed to Kosovo which will be augmented by US and Italian forces.

**Mar. 18 - Second communique claming to be from al Qaeda threatens further attacks in retaliation for death of Khaled Ali Hajj (aka Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, The Poet) in Saudia Arabia.

**Mar. 18 - Attempted assassination of Jose Murat, Governor of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Mar. 19 - President and Vice-President of Taiwan shot by would-be assassins and a FARC plot to assassinate the president of Columbia has been thwarted.

Mar. 19 - First of British troops land in Kosovo; an additional 600 German troops are also to be deployed.

Mar. 19 - French restaurant in Bahrain stormed by Islamists angered by alcohol served. Cars of restaurant patrons hit with Molotov cocktails.

**Mar. 19 - Car bomb in Basra kills 3 people, angry residents catch bomber and kill him:

A man who left the vehicle shortly before the blast was caught by passers-by and stabbed to death, said police Lt.-Col. Ali Kazem. Two others spotted getting out of the vehicle were caught by members of the public and later arrested.
Three Iraqi journalists killed, nine wounded in by drive-by shooting, three US soldiers killed by mortar fire.

Mar. 19 - Plans for the Pakistan-India cricket match remain firm. (I see a major political message in this sports event.)

I left some things out, including the letter purporting to be from al Qaeda declaring a cease-fire in Spain and today's bomb threat targeting DC schools.

Do you suppose the seeming simultaneity is what Sec. of State Colin Powell meant when he used the expression a nexus of terrorism to describe the link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein during his UN presentation last year?

These events may be linked on purpose or they may have inspired one another, but anyone who understands that we are at war might also believe that terrorists are being flushed out into the open.

Others will doubtless say that the events are a direct result of US intervention in Iraq, but there were so many events which preceeded that war that I don't think it an adequate explanation.

**late additions to list

Posted by Debbye at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2004

Mount Lebanon Hotel Attack

Mar. 17 - I'll try to keep abreast of whatever news I can find about the latest terrorist attack in Baghdad. The attack leveled the Mount Lebanon Hotel and which houses civilians, including many Egyptians and Kurds, and houses nearby. Iraq agencies are taking care of the wounded and trying to find survivors in the rubble.

17:40: It's been confirmed that it was a suicide car bomb, and one reporter said it was reminiscent of the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy.

According to CNN (same link as below):

Iraqi leaders had reached an understanding with the United Nations, asking for advisers to help them put together an interim government before the June 30 political handover, a British diplomat said Wednesday.
But will the UN stay this time?

It's about time the Vice-President started reminding people what is happening in Iraq. This isn't electoral politics, despite the inclusion of Kerry, this is the leadership of a country speaking to the people about what we are doing, reminding them how important it is and boosting morale. Election schmelection, this is the duty of the President and the Vice-President.

15:38: The Iraq security forces, police and rescue workers are still digging by hand and trying to find survivors in the debris. They show no signs of giving up. US officials seem to believe it was a suicide attack, that a large vehicle was used, and the explosive used was combined with military ordinance which gave the blast more power. The death toll has climbed to 28.

15:20: US Military officials are saying it was caused by a 1,000 lb. bomb.

14:54: More information here.

14:35: Alaa has two posts about yesterday's deaths in Iraq here and here and has a very direct message:

It is a question of taking the initiative, It is not right for the Greatest Power on Earth, supported by the majority of the people of the country to be harassed in this way by gangs of thugs and murderers.
14:19: From Fox word that at least 27 are dead and 41 injured.
The hotel is inhabited mostly by Kurds and Egyptians and is located very close to the headquarters of Al Jazeera, the Arab language satellite television station.

The blast, which hit around 8 p.m. local time, was probably caused by a rocket attack, Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Kadhim told Reuters. Other experts, including U.S. officers on the scene, said it looked like a car bomb, since the hotel had lax security and it would be easier for a terrorist to drive a car up to the building, detonate it and kill many people.

From live coverage on CNN, some of the reporters have sounded angry at the attackers and outraged over the attack.

13:30 I just got home from work and turned on CNN to learn there had been another terrorist attack and that the Mount Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad had been hit. Preliminary reports on TV indicate that there were mostly civilians in the hotel and that it was either a car or truck bomb.

Has the other shoe dropped?

I'm angry again. Like many others, I was feeling let down over the results of the Spanish elections and the decision of Honduras to withdraw was one more piece of discouraging news, although Steven Den Beste's post on the rout, The Stampede Begins gave me heart.

The French barely had a chance to welcome the newest weasel before being confronted with reality and an anonymous threat. (See commenter Keith's report on what the threats said here.)

Al Qaeda is on the offensive, and they are going after weaker targets. A surprise? Hardly, but more than just bullying, it's basic military strategy.

Al Qaeda is basically a coalition of terror groups as opposed to one, monolithic organization, and it's a matter of basic strategy to join forces with other, like-minded groups who employ terrorism as their basic (and only) tactic.

I wondered if the Spanish train attack was a joint operation between al Qaeda and a splinter group from ETA - probably younger members who admired al Qaeda's audacity and wanted to emulate their methods, and am becoming more convinced of that theory.

We are at war. Why on earth is it a surprise that al Qaeda is now taking the initiative and staging a counter-attack? Don't people read history books anymore?

I think al Qaeda is trying to isolate the US from our allies, and they are going after the weaker links. Spain was wobbly, although former PM Aznar was firm, and the Iraqi people are both strong and weak because it's damned hard to be on the front lines.

Even if we are left standing alone (not that I believe the UK and Australia will back off from their support) I'd rather go down fighting than hide in a corner. We've been backing off, initiating dialogue, examining root causes and diverting ourselves from the clear and present danger for too long as it is.

We are a free people - free people who have a legacy of taking incredible risks and chancing everything for a better life. This goes back to the very first settlers on Roanoke Island and the Pilgrims who got lost on their way to the New World and stepped off the Mayflower and onto Plymouth Rock.

Being a slave to fear is a living death, and I really prefer true death to almost-death, just as I would rather be allowed to pass on than be a vegetable hooked up to machinery.

Never surrender, never retreat. Let that be our motto.

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2004

All About the (French Lust for) Oil

Mar. 16 - The automatic assumption that anything the US does is eeevil allows for quick and satisfactory explanations for each and every one of the world's ills and problems. The problem with that is that everything else goes entirely under the radar and lets other, not so very philanthropic people and corporations operate without detection.

One of the lesser known aspects of Iraq under Hussein was the efforts he made to get the sanctions lifted through a contract between the him and the oil giant TotalFinaElf (formerly Total SA and Elf Aquitane and renamed when they merged.)

From the NY Post, The French War for Oil:

The first of two massive deals was announced in June 1994 by then-Iraqi Oil Minister Safa al-Habobi - a well-known figure whose name had surfaced in numerous procurement schemes in the 1980s in association with the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, which supervised Saddam's chemical, biological, missile and nuclear-weapons programs.

Speaking in Vienna, al-Habobi confirmed that his government was awarding Total SA rights to the future production of the Nahr Umar oil field in southern Iraq, and that Elf was well-placed to be awarded similar terms in the Majnoon oil fields on the border with Iran.

Those two deals, which I detail in "The French Betrayal of America," would have been worth an estimated $100 billion over a seven-year period - but were conditioned on the lifting of U.N. sanctions on Iraq. Simply put, analyst Gerald Hillman told me, the French were saying: "We will help you get the sanctions lifted, and when we do that, you give us this."

It gets better.
The Total contract, a copy of which I obtained, was "very one-sided," says Hillman. (Hillman, a political economist and a managing partner at Trireme Investments in New York, did a detailed analysis of the contract.) An ordinary production agreement typically grants the foreign partner a maximum of 50 percent of the gross proceeds of the oil produced at the field they develop. But this deal gave Total 75 percent of the total production. "This is highly unusual," he said. Indeed, it was extortion.

But Saddam willingly agreed: He saw the Total deal, and a similar one with Elf, as the price he had to pay to secure French political support at the United Nations.

Most Canadians still don't realize the close connection between the Chretien and Demarais families and TotalFinaElf through the Montreal corporation Power Corp. The question is, do they care? They've had recent revelations of how very corrupt the government was under Chretien, but are they willing to face the entire truth?

France tried to keep Saddam in power with every trick and device in the book. We know what they did under the pretense of seeking peaceful solutions, but the real reason Chirac went to such lengths remains unexplored even though journalists have access to the same information as we do.

Chretien stood on high moral ground and officially, Canada did not offer even symbolic support to the US or even wish us good luck.

TotalFinaElf. Jacques Chirac. Jean Chretien. Paul Desmarais.

It's all about the oil. Really.

Links: From last September, a link to an interesting rundown of Paul Desmarais, this from a post by Kate at Anything Prose. A portion of the Francis column is here and Winds of Change also has a post that stemmed from the Francis column on Chretien's connection to TotalFinaElf here as well as another as well as two Instapundit links about another corruption scandel in France which involved TotalFinaElf (the case involved Elf Aquitaine, a parent company of TotalFinaElf and Mitterand, and there were convictions and fines levied.)

There are Belgium ties to TotalFinaElf too: follow the links provided here (I'll tidy this up a bit tomorrow.)

A final note: former PM Chretien awarded the Order of Canada to Andre Desmarais (his son-in-law) last August.

Another final note, this from Dow Jones Newswires from January, 2003, Inc's Cosy Deal with Iraq at Risk as War Looms.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 PM | Comments (5)

Iraq Confidence

Mar. 16 - Majority of Iraqis See Life Better Without Saddam:

Just a quarter said they had confidence in U.S.-led occupation forces to deliver their needs. There were far higher levels of confidence in Iraqi religious leaders (70 percent), local police (68 percent) and the new Iraqi army (56 percent).
This growing confidence in their own capabilities is so uplifting and just what I hoped for most - they shouldn't depend upon anyone, including the US, but upon themselves.

Funny, no questions about how Iraqis feel about the UN.

Posted by Debbye at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2004

Spanish Troops to be Withdrawn

Mar. 15 - No surprise here: Spain PM-elect: Troops out of Iraq on June 30 (why did CNN state it would be "by" June 30?) unless there is a UN resolution but

Later Warsaw's Ambassador to NATO, Jerzy M. Nowak, told Reuters that Poland was willing to stay in command of the stabilisation force in central-south Iraq if Spain withdrew.

Spain had been due to take charge of the division on July 1.

After 83% of the vote counted, the Socialist Party looks as though they have won 164 seats (still less than a majority) and the Popular Party won 148 seats out of 350 seats.

Zapatero, leader of the Socialist Party, has pledged to continue to fight terrorism but also talks about taking steps to achieve peace. He's going to have to do some careful balancing, and if he appears to appease terrorists I think the Spanish people could turn on him.

It is so hard for people to grasp that they are still safer confronting and fighting terrorism even after an attack such as we saw last Thursday. All many can comprehend in moments of grief and horror is that they were attacked, and it is difficult to recognize that living under the threat of terrorism is also an ongoing attack.

They now live with a new danger: weighing every decision and public stand with What would al Qaeda think? in the backs of their minds. That is not the signature of a free people.

Paul provides some much needed perspective in a brief description of all the parties that ran in the elections and his analysis and pay special note to the shift in seats - most down - in fringe parties.

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2004

The Spanish Vote

Mar. 14 - The vote is in and the result is what most of us suspected it would be: a repudiation of the Popular Party, formerly led by Jose Maria Aznar, and victory for the socialists.

I had commented earlier that the fact that the vote was taking place at all was one victory against terrorism. I don't know what domestic issues dominated the elections, but on this side of the Atlantic we have only been focused on three issues: their participation in Iraq, their war on terror, and their foreign relations. That's not fair, but it is reality.

The main reason I feel the fact that the elections went forward constitute one form of victory over the terrorists is because I remember a different Spain, one ruled by Franco. A blood civil war in that country was seen by many as an opening salvo by fascism to extend its grip beyond Germany, and many men and women went to Spain to fight for the loyalists. They were defeated, and some years later another battle between fascism and the forces of democracy was replayed with all of Europe as the battleground.

The success I was looking at - with an admittedly glass half full perspective - was that the elections were not postponed or even cancelled, that the country was not placed under martial law, and that the governing party probably knew they were going to lose yet adhered to the Spanish constitution and the elections went as scheduled.

Those who remember Franco's Spain know what Franco would have done because we remember what he did.

A lot of things about this election weren't fair. It wasn't fair that a people who struggled against fascism and succeeded in restoring their Republic and constitutional monarchy were targeted for death by a group that doesn't believe in adhering to Constitutions.

It wasn't fair to thrust the Spanish people into the international spotlight and have their election be held under world scrutiny so soon after a terrorist attack that killed 200 men, women and children and left over 1500 wounded.

It wasn't fair that we hoped they could see beyond the attack and recognize that they were being manipulated by either al Qaeda, ETA or an as yet unknown group.

It wasn't fair that they had no chance to recover their equilibirium before casting their votes.

It wasn't fair. But, to repeat, it is reality.

The Prime Minister elect, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, does not have a majority government, The Socialist Party apparently having won 148 of the 350 seats in Parliament and 42.07% of the popular vote compared to the the Popular Party's 37.6% (although the CNN story does not mention how many seats they or other parties won.)

One thing I do know is that the new Prime Minister and the Socialist Party will find, as others before them have found, that being in Opposition and sniping from the sidelines is easy, but things look a lot different when you actually have control over and, more importantly, responsibility for the country.

No one can be sure of how future electorates in Western countries will react if (or, more likely, when) placed in a similar position. They will have one advantage over the Spanish, though, because of what happened in Spain - 20/20 hindsight.

And, tangentially, this event proves another axiom: that those who have been deprived of freedom value it the more fiercely. Despite the terrorist attacks in Iraq March 2, the interim constitution was signed.

Will future electorates mirror the Iraqis or the Spanish?

Interesting times.

UPDATES: Mar. 15 07:18: Paul analyzes the elections results and reports a conversation with Alina (yes, she is fine!) and her perspective on why people blame the Partido Popular.

07:46: Tim Blair has a round-up of bloggers' reactions and Andrew Sullivan made an exceptionally apt point.

Posted by Debbye at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

Ali Ismail Abbas

Mar. 14 - Everyone remembers Ali Ismail Abbas, the young Iraqi boy who was orphaned and left a multiple amputee by a bombing strike during the Iraq War. Many hearts and wallets opened to try to provide care and hope for this young man, but there are some questions as to whether committments were honoured and how much of the money raised to assist him - if any - has been used for that purpose.

A Canadian doctor, Iraqi-born Dr. Falah Hafuth, is one of those who remained committed to Ali. Nearly a year after the war, Dr. Hafuth has some serious questions and concerns about Ali and how the aid promised him has failed to materialize.

Posted by Debbye at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

UN to investigate its Oil for Food Program

Mar. 14 - A formal announcement is expected next week stating that the UN will conduct inquiry into its Iraq oil-for-food program:

The United Nations has bowed to international pressure to investigate allegations of corruption surrounding its oil-for-food programme, under which Iraqi oil was sold on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The move follows claims that UN officials were caught up in a reward system set up by Saddam, which apparently granted proceeds from the sale of million of barrels of oil to friendly politicians, officials and businessmen around the world.

Iraq's new governing council has hired the accountants KPMG and the international law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to investigate claims that large sums of money - which should have been spent on food and medicine for ordinary Iraqis - were diverted through oil "vouchers" to line pockets abroad.


Mr Hankes-Drielsma [British businessman and former chairman of the management committee at Price Waterhouse accountants] launched the governing council inquiry after Mr Annan offered no response to the documents from the Oil Ministry. KPMG accountants and the Freshfields law firm have been instructed to investigate a list of irregularities including:

UN approval of oil contracts to "non-end users" - middlemen who sold their stake on for a profit.

A standard 10 per cent addition to the value of oil invoices, which generated up to £2.2 billion in illegal cash funds for Saddam.

A fee of two per cent, levied on all oil-for-food transactions to allow the UN to inspect all food and medical imports - which does not appear to have been effectively spent since food was rotten and medicines out of date.

The role of Middle Eastern banks, their auditing and their possible suspected connection to Saddam's secret service.

Mr Hankes-Drielsma last night described to The Telegraph three documents on which he said the name of the UN official appeared, and said: "Our report will clarify the details."

One is headed, "Quantity of Oil Allocated and Given to Mr Benon Sevan," and records 1.8 million barrels allocated to Mr Sevan.

Assistant Secretary General Benon Sevan's name appeared on a list purporting to be people who had received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein.

I wish I could think of something suitably gratifying to say but, after agitating and pushing for so long, I'm flat. Go figure.

Posted by Debbye at 01:23 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2004

Susan Lindauer, Saddam's Agent

Mar. 12 - Susan Lindauer, the Former U.S. Aide Accused of Working With Iraq, has quite a history. She also has quite an ego:

"I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else," she said.
More than anybody? Uh, no.

The NY Times confirms that she is the same woman who asserted that Syria was behind the Lockerbie bombing.

And and there is this:

Ms. Lindauer is the fourth person charged in connection with what officials described as a widening investigation into improper intelligence gathering in the former Iraqi mission in New York City under the Hussein government.

Khalid Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, a Jordanian who lived in the Chicago region and who published Arabic periodicals, has been convicted of conspiring to pass information to Iraqi intelligence officials in New York City before the war, and he is due to be sentenced this month.

In addition, two sons of a former Iraqi diplomat in New York City have been charged with secretly aiding Iraqi intelligence officials. Ms. Lindauer was charged as part of the same indictment as the two brothers, Wisam Noman al-Anbuge and Raed al-Anbuge.

Thomas Nooter, a lawyer for Raed al-Anbuge, said the brothers appeared to have had contact with some of the same Iraqi intelligence agents Ms. Lindauer is accused of contacting. But he said he is aware of no other connections between the two cases, and he suggested that prosecutors had joined the cases only to delay the brothers' trial.

Wrong, Mr. Nooter. Authorities probably delayed the arrest due to Ms. Lindauer's connection to Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun and her campaign in the Democrat presidential candidacy race.

I was tempted to regard her as a nut until I read the Washington Times article which contains a rather chilling paragraph:

According to court papers filed in the case, Miss Lindauer met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Manhattan, N.Y., on Oct. 14 and Oct. 19, 1999, and "accepted a task" from the Iraqi agent.

Under an alias, Miss Lindauer supplied the Iraqis with the location, employment and family status of Iraqi expatriates in the United States, including the son of an Iraqi diplomat, the documents state.
I hope none of those she reported on or their families came to harm under from the former regime.

Posted by Debbye at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2004

UN Oil for Food Program - Essential Links

Mar. 11 - This is going to be a tour because there's a fair amount out today about the UN Oil for Food Program.

Start here for the opening scene.

Now a September, 2002, a Wall Street Journal piece on the Oil for Food Program Kofi Annandersen by Claudia Rossett and her April, 2003, NY Times piece Oil, Food and a Whole Lot of Questions.

Now it's finally March 11, 2004, and there's Kojo and Kofi by Claudia Rosett in the National Review and and article by Therese Raphael in the Wall Street Journal The Oil-for-Food Scandal.

Kofi Annan's son? WTF?

Canada: Adscam meets the man who signed off on the vouchers for the Oil for Food Program. Well, no, but here we are in the midst of a huge scandal about unaccountability by bureaucrats and the Toronto Star highlights segments of Kofi Annan's speech to Parliament here with all the adulation worthy of the Second Coming. And there's this opening remark:

It is often said that "all politics is local." Yet in our globalized age, local events are connected, in a myriad of ways, with situations far afield.
I'm probably interpreting that in a far different way than the Star intended.

Finally, because he has been unrelenting and deserves the final word, Kojo, Kofi & Kerry by Roger L. Simon.

I can't comment rationally on this right now. Events in Madrid are bring back some horrible memories and my heart is breaking at how Spaniards are going through scenes only too similar to those we remember - haunting hospitals and make-shift morgues looking for loved ones, and trying to comprehend the horror.

Posted by Debbye at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

Susan Lindauer, Saddam's Agent

Mar. 11 - One Susan Lindauer has been arrested and charged with spying for Iraq (American charged with spying for Iraq.) She is 41 and was arrested in her home town of Takoma Park, Md. Few details about her have been made available.

When in doubt, google: according to this July 2000 Middle East Intelligence bulletin on the Lockerbie investigation:

Last month, MEIB reported that Dr. Richard Fuisz, a major CIA operative in Syria during the 1980s, met with a congressional staffer by the name of Susan Lindauer in 1994 and told her that that the perpetrators of the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland were based in Syria [see "The Lockerbie Bombing Trial: Is Libya Being Framed?" Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, June 2000]. One month after their meeting, the Clinton administration, which holds Libya responsible for the bombing, placed a gag order on Dr. Fuisz to prevent him from publicly discussing the issue.
The December, 1998, deposition made by Susan Lindauer is in the post (although there is no way to verify this.) The deposition advances the theory that Syria, not Libya, was responsible for the bombing of Flight 103 with the intention of striking at US drug agents for disrupting the flow of heroin from Lebanon.

This is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald also on the issue of who was responsible for Lockerbie.

According to this next piece from the Daily Egyptian, a Susan Lindauer is a spokeswoman for Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (Ill.). The article would have appeared in April, 1996.

Obviously, I don't know if the woman who was arrested for spying is the same as either or both articles, but both articles do refer to a Congressional staffer by the name of Susan Lindauer.

There will probably be a lot of speculation and theorizing about this should the woman arrested prove to be the same congressional aide noted in the 3 google links. That isn't intentional sarcasm, but is undeniably an understatement.

UPDATE: 13:08 CNN has expanded the story from the measly 3 paragraphs that first appeared and are using the same link. Maybe there will be more information included by the day's end.

UPDATE: 15:05 CNN just identified the arrest woman as having been a congressional aide for two legislators (they didn't mention names) and had worked for two news publications. Googling rules.

UPDATE: 1519: Commenter Sammie found another place when Susan Lindauer's name appears:
Signers of the Peace Pledge. Her name appears under Maryland.

UPDATE: 22:11 Instapundit has more links on Susan Lindauer here and here. The other Congressmen she worked for were Ron Wyden and Peter DeFazio

Posted by Debbye at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2004


Mar. 6 - More coalition injuries: Four British soldiers were wounded during three hour firefight in southern Iraq. The soldiers returned fire after being hit with handgun and rocket-propelled grenades inQalah Salih, south of Amarah.

None of the injuries were life-threatening. Southern Iraq has not seen the same degree of attacks on coalition forces as we've seen in Baghdad but there have been retaliation killings of those associated with the Ba'athist regime.

The interim constitution is yet unsigned. This CNN report says the issue is over veto power:

... a clause that says if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces reject the permanent constitution it will not go into effect until it is revised, said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the governing council.

Shiites felt those procedures gave too much power to the Kurds, who enjoy self-rule in three provinces in northern Iraq.

How power is distributed - enough to guarantee the rights of the minority but not so much as to keep the country moving as a single entity - is often difficult and involves the most concession and compromise.

There was bound to be a reaction to the horrendous Tuesday attacks on Shiites during religious processionals, but that it seems to have affected the constitutional process rather than blood-for-blood retaliation is extremely encouraging and again defies the worst prognostications of the pundits who can't imagine this process would ever have begun much less be so close to the finish line.

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2004

Russian aid to Saddam

Mar. 5 - Article in the NY Times today Russian Engineers Reportedly Gave Missile Aid to Iraq:

Because some of the Russian experts were said to have formerly worked for one of Russia's aerospace design centers, which remains closely associated with the state, their work for Iraq has raised questions in Washington about whether Russian government officials knew of their involvement in forbidden missile programs. "Did the Russians really not know what they were doing?" asked one person familiar with the United States intelligence reports.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington denied any knowledge of the allegations of recent Russian technical support for Iraq's missile effort.

"The U.S. has not presented any evidence of Russian involvement," said Yevgeny Khorishko, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy.

That in part echoes some of my frustrations with getting at the truth about the UN Oil for Food program as well as an event during the Iraq War - the attack on a Russian covoy heading for the Syrian border, Condi Rice's weekend trip to Moscow, and the Russians not saying a peep in protest of the attack after her visit (it's my standard fretting over what was in her briefcase and will it be revealed in my lifetime? issue!)

The article doesn't say much we didn't suspect, but does draw some inferences between Saddam's attempt to purchase missiles from North Korea and some of the findings of the October Kay report and looks at why the President isn't forcing exposure of Russian complicity in violating UN sanctions which are highly speculative and fail to take the multilateral talks over North Korea's nuclear program into account.

I've been chewing over this, which looks at some criticisms of the restricted nature of Dr. Kay's hunt, and the accompanying links for a couple of days. IIRC, Dr. Kay said one of the reasons he was ending the search was because the Administration wasn't allowing enough funds or personnel to do the job adequately although I suspect that the actual hunt may be taking place under another agency and possibly in another country, but that too is highly speculative.

UPDATE: Wretchard also examines the Douglas Hanson article in The American Thinker and points to another possibility:

Saddam would have looked at a nuke or bioweapon not simply as a lethal device but as an investment. Dr. David Kay's findings may not mean that Saddam destroyed or hid his weapons before the war. It may merely mean that he sold them.

Posted by Debbye at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2004

Hammorabai Blog

Mar. 4 - I've been timid about updating the blgoroll, and then a horrible thought struck me - one that I have on my list to add is a blog from Iraq, Hammorabi. I mention it now because he has pictures and words both strong and grief-stricken about the Tuesday bombings of Shiites.

Posted by Debbye at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

Rumour of Zarqawi's Death

Mar. 4 - According to the Toronto Star, a statement circulated by "Leadership of the Allahu Akbar Mujahedeen" claims that Al-Zarqawi dead and was killed when US forces bombed the mountains in northern Iraq. The statement does not when he was supposedly killed.

The statement also claims the the letter the US intercepted some months ago is a forgery.

Posted by Debbye at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)


Mar. 4 - Interesting piece by Max Boot for the LA Times Democracy's Bus Is Rolling in Iraq. An excerpt:

There is more good news coming from Iraq. Thanks in part to the much-maligned work of Halliburton, the country's oil production and electricity generation will soon surpass prewar levels. The number of coalition soldiers killed in January and February (75) was 52% lower than in November and December (158). The number of U.S. soldiers wounded fell even more during that period - to 260 from 638.

Of course, the glad tidings shouldn't be exaggerated. One reason why attacks on coalition soldiers are down is that, as Tuesday's atrocities in Baghdad and Karbala demonstrate, terrorists are finding Iraqis an easier target. But although the terrorists can kill and maim, they cannot win public support. In the Sunni Triangle, where most of the violence is occurring, 21 imams issued a fatwa condemning "any act of violence against Iraqi state government workers, police and soldiers."

Staying the course and keeping their eyes on the prize is why Iraqis for generations to come will stand tall and proud. It is so humbling to know that whereas we may have opened the door, they seized the opportunity and boldly walked through it.

UPDATE: Sunni preachers and Shiite clerics march together in Baghdad to affirm their solidarity after the horrific bombings Tuesday.

Posted by Debbye at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2004

March 2 Attack in Iraq

Mar. 3 - As more information comes out about yesterday's attacks on Shiites in Quetta, Pakistan, and Karbala and Baghdad and the aborted ones in Basra and Najaf, Iraq, and the subsequent retaliation against Sunnis in Pakistan, I'm trying to put aside my personal horror that religious processions, mosques and shrines were attacked with murderous intent and focus on what it says about the war on terror. I'm finding it very difficult because murdering in the name of religion is something that the West has rejected as wrong. (It should go without saying that this rejection came about after a great deal of blood was shed in the name of religion and that this rejection is sadly incomplete.)

The concept that committing bloodshed upon religion and religious figures is offensive is even in our pop culture: remember in Sister Act when the killers wanted Whoopi Goldberg's character to remove the nun's habit and stop praying so they could kill her with a clear conscience? They knew she wasn't a nun, but couldn't get past their instincts that killing a nun - even a non-nun in a nun's habit - was sacrilege and sacrilege is worse than murder. I laughed during the scene, but part of my laughter was because I knew it contained truth however illogical that truth may be.

We still regard the concept of taking sanctuary in a house of God as inviolable, and violence within or against a religious edifice as a terrible sin. The notion of bombing a church, as happened in Birmingham so many long years ago, offended even the most die-hard bigots.

I might add that using a church, synagogue, temple or mosque from which to launch attacks is also something we find repugnant, and it requires a mighty struggle with our consciences to enter such a place with guns drawn to stop such attacks even though we recognize that it is done to save the lives of innocent people. The prospect of our military bombing such a place is not even contemplated.

There have been numerous columns, articles and blog posts that have highlighted the fact that terrorist attacks conducted by al Qaeda have been aimed more at Muslims than Westerners, or, more specifically, aimed against Muslims who are regarded as being of the "wrong" type of Islam.

To me, this is a reminder that al Qaeda has two distinct but intertwined goals: they are determined that all Muslims view that religion and practise it in the way al Qaeda believes is "correct," and therefore they target the West because one of our most cherished freedoms is the right to freely worship the deity or deities of our consciences and to do so without state interference or forcible compliance.

The notion of putting someone on trial for heresy in Western civilization is so anachronistic that I don't even know when the last one occurred. We speak of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre and the Salem Witch Trials with revulsion, and many who hear the phrase "Spanish Inquisition" are more likely think of the timeless Monty Python sketch before the historical attribution.

I believe that should Western notions of religious tolerance become widely accepted in the Mid-East and Africa, al Qaeda is doomed and they know it. That is why they are attacking Shiites in Iraq and Pakistan: because they are counting upon the Shiites to retaliate which will harden attitudes and hatred and make tolerance impossible. In Iraq they have thus far failed; in Pakistan they have had some success but, in a strong move, the Pakistan army moved in to stop the retaliations.

I believe al Qaeda pursues this strategy confidently because they believe they understand human nature, and in some ways I can understand why they take this view due the dangers we faced after the events in the USA. After all, who didn't fear that Americans would retaliate against American Muslims in the aftermath of Sept. 11? I did. That fear was companion to my fear of further attacks by al Qaeda, and I am now ashamed as well as proud to have been so wrong as to distrust my people.

Did al Qaeda hope to prompt bloody retaliation by Christian and Jewish Americans upon Muslim Americans? I don't honestly know, but it is a real possibility that such was their hope and that the total failure of that plan is among the reasons they haven't hit us on the homefront again (or yet.)

Did they hope to achieve those ends when they hit Bali? Australians too refused to take the bait and rose to reaffirm their values and beliefs and can stand proudly as people who saw past their anger to help and aid the Balinese and Indonesians as they earlier helped the East Timorese and later helped the Solomons.

It comes down to the ability to recognize who the enemy is and who it is not. That, in short, is the legitimate offspring of tolerance, that we not tar all with the same brush but focus on those individuals who commit the outrages.

One of the things that made me stand straighter as an American was the respect for Muslims that President Bush enunicated during his address to the Joint Houses of Congress in September, 2001, because I recognized that, as our Commander-in-Chief in wartime, he was requesting (because he can't issue order to civilians) that we remember who and what we are, and that we remember who and what our Muslim brethren are. Our President, a man who is more openly religious than many of his predecessors, reached out as a Christan to firmly state his respect for the piety and decency of Muslims. He led by example.

Maybe the President doesn't do nuance because he lives as a Christian and lets his deeds speak for themselves. He doesn't obscure his beliefs and feelings. He is capable as a Christian of recognizing that love of the deity or deities is something that transcends differences and tries to be an example that, as Christians are commanded, we love one another and treat one another with compassion.

He was just short of stern when he reminded us that we are a good nation, a tolerant nation. He cooled the heat of righteous indignation. It was a tremendous risk for him at the time because most Americans were decidedly not in a tolerant and forebearing mood. We wanted to hit hard with deadly force to avenge our dead, but he understood the deeper heart of the American people and he rose to nurture the better angels of our nature.

The example he set represents the biggest danger to al Qaeda. The retaliation Muslims had reason to fear didn't happen, and however inconceivable it may be to jaded sophisticates, it is in part because he helped us find our peace with God. They do not want to trust him, and may never drop their suspicions of him and his motives, but what can they truly point to that proves he means other than what he says he means?

So they have retreated and made a mighty spin to try to depict this admission of brotherhood as cynical and manipulative, and I'm beginning to think that, as the Democrats continue to campaign on their Hate!Bush platform, that their real issue is that they know the American people were affected by love and respect for this man who defied all the pundits and rose to lead us at the darkest hour of our time.

In other words, the only chance the Democrats have to win in November is if they can fan the fires of Democrat hatred for the President. It doesn't take a psychologist to recognize that this is evidence of his immense stature among the American people, and it doesn't take a genius to recognize how destructive and horrifying their campaign really is.

I say destructive and horrifying because the Democrats are pandering to the worst of our natures. They are actively pitting cynical sophistication, which believes the worst of people, against the natural optimism of our country. They are urging us to indulge in selfish, short-time interests instead of recognizing a higher goal of renewing opportunities for peace, prosperity and freedom to the peoples of the world and, in so doing, lessen the danger to ourselves.

Can one be truly free when one's brothers and sisters are enslaved? We answered that question within our own borders over 100 years ago, and today are faced with the same question. Are we to now answer differently?

The irony hasn't escaped me that the Republicans gave one answer in 1860 and the Democrats another, and we finally purged our country of slavery through blood.

Given the choice between those who acknowledge and revere the best of humanity and those who darkly believe the worst, I will go with the first every time because I've seen too much evidence in my lifetime of how good and decent people innately are.

Think about this contradiction: Kerry has raised the scarecrow of "exporting jobs" and the prosperity it brings to Third World countries even though those exported jobs helps create a middle class in those countries - and the independent businesses that can grow in those countries because they provide commodities to that middle class - and thus promise development and reducing if not ending poverty as well as creating the class that will bring about democratic reform.

He depicts this development of a middle class in Third World countries as a bad thing! He is campaigning for American First! How does that reconcile with the Democrat affectation of being oh so concerned about poverty and tyranny in the Third World? Is his plan to bring jobs back to the US and then raise taxes on the working class so the American workers can feed those in the Third World who are now unemployed and thus strengthen the resentment of those who would be dependent on hand-outs instead of the dignity of their own labour and effort?

Why do they hate us? Among the proferred answers: tyranny, poverty, despair, etc. etc. all of which are supposedly our fault. What would be the result of Kerry's foreign policy? He would end the sanctions on Iran and strengthen the grip of the mullahs, send Third World countries into economic disaster by ending jobs, and pander to those European elites who don't believe that the peoples of their former colonies are capable of embracing freedom. Gee, do you suppose "they" would hate us even more? Can't the Dems achieve any consistency? Maybe it's hard to do so when you don't really have a plan other than getting elected!

Kerry is a populist of limited vision and, unlike most populists, no personal appeal. There's no nicer way to put it. He has no vision, no plan, panders to discontent and selfishness and has focused on his actions of 30 years ago because that's when his contributions to the USA ended.

I watched CNN earlier today when the commentators were wistfully opining that, with the primaries and opponents for the nomination out of the way, Kerry will reveal his true self and his true vision for the future. What better admission that he is a hypocrite and a charlatan.

UPDATE: Wow, it looks as though Kerry's near-certainty as the Dem presidential candidate has been the cause for a lot of reflection by a lot of people. Glenn Reynolds wondered if Pres. Bush was losing his war support base and gotten a lot of good answers.

Posted by Debbye at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004

March 2 Terrorist Attacks

Mar. 2 - What can I say about the attacks and attackers in Baghdad and Karbala that have killed over 140 people and wounded countless others on the Shiite holiest day of the year?

Of course, these events don't prove that "insurgents" are trying to foment rage against Sunnis. Not one bit. (That was sarcasm.)

Nor does the simultaneous nature of the attacks - at least five homicide bombers - actually prove al Qaeda involvement because it is reasonable to assume that other groups would adopt the same tactics. (That isn't sarcasm.)

CNN, of course, is far more impressed with the few hundred that demonstrated in Karbala who blamed the US for the attacks (opportunism much?) because they can handle that kind of report better than reporting on the true evil that is terrorism.

UPDATE: Maybe it was al Qaeda: there has also been an attack in Quetta, Pakistan, in which at least 38 people were killed and hundreds wounded after gunmen open fired on a procession of Shiites, and a local Shiite leader was shot and killed in Mundi Bahauddin.

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2004

Interim Constitution of Iraq

Mar. 1 -

"For the next 100 years this day will be mentioned as one of the most important in Iraq's history," said council member Samir Shaker Mahmoud. "This will be remembered in the annals of history as a turning point in relations between the state and citizens in this country and in the region."
Iraq Constitution Has Checks and Balances and is the framework for a federalist state in which the Kurds and other regions will retain some degree of autonomy and will have two official languages - Arabic and Kurdish.

Islam will be the state religion but will not be the sole basis of the law.

A thirteen article bill of rights establishes protections for the freedoms of speech, religious expression, assembly and due process.

The national assembly will be chosen by direct elections and they will chose a president, prime minister and two deputy presidents.

The prime minister will administrate the country's affairs, and the president will command the armed forces and have a veto over the national assembly's resolutions. He can declare war, but not without the assembly's explicit approval.

The report states the interim constitution was finally agreed upon at 4 a.m.

That the charter was produced at all was partly a product of the framers' understanding that they would make history if they succeeded, an eventuality that required a strong dose of compromise.

"We fought our way inch by inch toward the center," Mahmoud said. "And then, at 4 a.m. ... or thereabouts, we got there."

Indeed they did.

UPDATE: Damien Penny points out one glaring defect in the charter.

Posted by Debbye at 07:22 PM | Comments (0)

Iraq Reconstruction Fund

Mar. 1 - $1B released for Iraqi reconstruction programs will be initially overseen by Japan. From what I caught on CNN, other countries that pledged more than a specified amount (possibily $1 million?) will also be part of those who scrutinize the books.

I'd like to read words like "open and transparent" transactions about these funds if only to remind the world how it's supposed to be done.

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 29, 2004

Celebrate the Iraq Constitution

Feb. 29 - There are worse things than not meeting a deadline when you're trying to frame a constitution. Canadians and Americans know fully that what matters is to get it right, recognize you may not be able to get everything right, and leave room for modifications and changes by future generations.

It matters that someone can lose an election and live to campaign in the next election. One look at the recent elections in Iran should be sufficient proof that democracy is not only about elections, it's about having the freedom for free and open debate and field candidates that reflect the different political forces in the country.

An infant USA was initially governed by the Articles of Confederation. We had to discard them and try again! That made us a laughing stock and seemed to prove that the experiement in self rule was doomed, but we tried again and are still tinkering with the system. It wasn't until after the Civil War that we stopped referring to our country as these United States and begin referring to ourselves as the United States.

Time. The process takes time. It demands time. It takes a willingness to become exasperated and try to renew one's patience. And, as with our founders, there are probably a number of groups who are absolutely convinced that they alone are correct.

There are a number of distinctive groups trying to reach a consensus - in itself a radically new approach to governance in the Mid East (except Israel) and, for that matter, a large number of troubled countries in the Third World.

What I find more uplifting are the huge number of newspapers in Iraq and various reports about how citizens are forming governments at the local levels which I see as an early and essential development of grass roots democracy. That's where the seeds for enduring freedom begins and how it builds strength and endurance.

Imagine: in years to come, the people of Iraq will have their own version of The Federalist Papers for people to read, ponder and debate. Such matters don't work according to a calander, they function according to how they manage to debate and compromise. I'm less concerned with how long it takes and utterly excited that it is taking place. What a glorious time for Iraq!

UPDATE: Bob checks out the columns by Siddiqui and McQuaig from today's Toronto Star and notes that their petulance is preventing them from recognizing and rejoicing that democracy has come to Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2004

UN Oil for Food Program

Feb. 28 - Damien Penny says it all in this post about a NY Times article by Susan Sachs (which will appear in tomorrow's edition) about the UN sponsored Oil for Food Program ponderously but accurately titled Hussein's Regime Skimmed Billions From Aid.

Some excerpts:

In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.

That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude.


"We used to joke that if you get one million barrels, you could make $200,000," Mr. Faraj, of SOMO, added, referring to a period when the vouchers sold for about 20 cents per barrel. "And yet the ones who got it were those people who used to come here and praise Saddam for his stand against imperialism."


When Dr. Khidr Abbas became Iraq's interim minister of health six months ago, he discovered some of the effects of Mr. Hussein's political manipulation of the oil-for-food program.

After a review of the ministry's spending, he said, he canceled $250 million worth of contracts with companies he believes were fronts for the former government or got contracts only because they were from countries friendly to Mr. Hussein.

They were paid millions of dollars, said Dr. Abbas, for drugs they did not deliver, medical equipment that did not work and maintenance agreements that were never honored. Iraq, he added, was left with defective ultrasound machines from Algeria, overpriced dental chairs from China and a warehouse filled with hundreds of wheelchairs that the old government did not bother to distribute.


Yasmine Gailani, a medical technician who worked at a lab specializing in blood disorders, said the political manipulation resulted in deliveries of drugs that varied in quality and dosage every six months.

At one point, she said, the lab was instructed to only buy its equipment from Russian companies, adding, "So we would have to find what we called a Russian `cover' in order to buy from the manufacturer we wanted."

Her husband, Kemal Gailani, is minister of finance in the interim Iraqi government. Last fall, he said, he confronted a United Nations official over the quality of goods that Iraqis received in their monthly rations during the sanctions.

"We were looking at the contracts already approved and the U.N. lady said, `Do you mind if we continue with these?' " he recalled. "She was talking as if it was a gift or a favor, with our money of course. I said, `Is it the same contracts to Egypt and China? Is it the same cooking oil we used to use in our drive shafts, the same matches that burned our houses down, the same soap that didn't clean?' She was shocked."

Dr. Abbas, a surgeon who left his practice in London to return home to Iraq, said he was preparing lawsuits against some of the drug and medical supply companies he said were allowed to cheat Iraqis. He would also like to stop dealing with any company that paid kickbacks, but he said he realized that might not be practical.

But he would like to give them a message.

"I would say to them, it was very cruel to aid a dictator and his regime when all of you knew what the money was and where it was going," he said. "Instead of letting his resources dry up, you let the dictatorship last longer."

Okay, that's more than I intended.

I'm tired and have to go to work tomorrow, so I'll let Damien's excellent post speak for me and only add and damn them some more.

UPDATE: If you haven't done so yet, read Claudia Rosett's article in the Opinion Journal A New Job for Kay.

The Times article is linked at Instapundit, Tim Blair, On the Third Hand, and lgf.

UPDATE: West Coaster Roger Simon is all over The Big Heist and again urging that the UN opens the books.

Posted by Debbye at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

UN Oil for Food Program

Feb. 27 - This controversy isn't going away; Claudia Rossett works some numbers and find that those for the Oil for Food program don't add up (with many thanks to reader Sammie for the link.)

Open the books! What is so hard to understand?

Maybe those who talk about the international community and international law should consider how dangerous that is when the UN, which purports to represent that internationalization, refuses to be accountable for the money that goes through its books.

No self-respecting country or people would tolerate such arrogance from its own government.

UPDATE: No surprise that Roger L. Simon is on the case.

Posted by Debbye at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2004

Oil Vouchers

Feb. 26 - I have been engrossed in the following MEMRI document Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 164 - The Saddam Oil Vouchers Affair (courtesy of reader Sandy) during my few breaks these past couple of days.

Although MEMRI doesn't pass judgement as to the veracity of the report published in al-Mada, they seem to be taking the accusations very seriously and include in their report the reactions of those named as taking bribes, those who have refused comment, and what the countries of those charged with accepting the bribes are planning to do.

Another significant fact is that the list was originally in the possession of the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) and the Iraqi Ministry of Petroleum is collecting information with the intent of submitting it to Interpol who can investigate the affair further.

The MEMRI document details how Al-Mada stated that the oil voucher program worked:

In general, the vouchers were given either as gifts or as payment for goods imported into Iraq in violation of the U.N. sanctions. The voucher holder would normally tender the voucher to any one of the specialized companies operating in the United Arab Emirates for a commission which initially ranged from $0.25 to $0.30 per barrel, though it may have declined in later years to as little as $0.10 or even $0.05 per barrel because of oil surplus on the market. [7] In other words, a voucher for 1 million barrels would have translated into a quick profit of $250,000-300,000 on the high side and $50,000-100,000 on the low side – all paid in cash. According to Al-Mada, Jordan will seek to tax the illicit profits of citizens who benefited from the sale of the vouchers.

One of the common arguments by recipients of vouchers was that the vouchers paid for goods provided in the framework of the U.N.-administered Oil for Food program. However, under the Memorandum of Understanding governing the program, oil allocations were intended for "end users," meaning those with refineries. Most of the voucher recipients would be considered "non-end users." Moreover, if vouchers were used to pay for goods, it would suggest that these were not authorized by the program and should be considered illicit since all contracts approved by the U.N. were reimbursed from the trust account where the oil revenues were kept, at a French bank, at Iraq's insistence. According to the United Nations: "The oil buyer had to pay the price approved by the Security Council Sanctions Committee into a U.N. escrow account, and the U.N. had to verify that the goods purchased by Iraq were indeed those allowed under the program. But the U.N. had no way of knowing what other transactions might be going on directly between the Iraqi government and the buyers and sellers." [8]

The real eye opener, however, lies in the list of recipients in the Oil Vouchers Program and the large number of Russians implicated in the affair, 46, compared to France, which had 11.

There are 14 recipients listed from Jordan, and as was noted in the above, al-Mada says that the Jordanian government has announced its intention of taxing the illicit profits of citizens who benefited from the sale of the vouchers. They, at least, seem to believe the allegations.

The document also cites the reactions of the other governments which, predictably vary from silence to explanations to intentions to investigate.

The Arab media has not paid too much attention to the list perhaps because prominent names are on the list and freedom of the press in the Mid-East is not guaranteed, although the Lebanese, Jordanian and Iraqi press have published the list.

Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, rumours were circulating around the blogs about bribes to Arabic news agencies, particularly al Jazeera which many of us noted but, as many of these rumours were unattributed, couldn't give much weight to.

The reaction of one person, however, contains echoes of the allegations made nearly a year ago. Mazen Hammad wrote an op-ed for the Qatari daily Al-Watanunder titled "Publish the Names, May Allah Have Mercy on You!" in which he charged:

"The scandal is growing because it is no secret that hundreds of apartments, Mercedes automobiles, cash and various grants were distributed by Saddam's aides to ministers, under secretaries, journalists, writers and artists.
Obviously I recommend you read the whole thing.

I suspect that people will be inclined to believe or disbelieve the allegations according to their own bias, but if Interpol does investigate will that settle the question?

Posted by Debbye at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Abu Hamza Dead

Feb. 26 - Reports that Abu Mohammed Hamza, Zarqawi Bomb-Maker, was Killed in Iraq Feb. 19 were confirmed Tuesday in a DoD briefing.

Soldiers going door to door on a civil affairs mission (Fox reports they were handing out election pamphlets) were met with gunfire when they knocked on the door. Hamza was killed in the gunfight and 3 others captured. Soldiers found a quantity of explosives and bomb making materials inside.

The Fox report states that a soldier was killed, but the DoD briefing indicates he was wounded.

Posted by Debbye at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Polish base attacked

Feb. 18 - Another terrorist attack on coalition forces in Iraq killed 9 Iraqis and two would be attackers at the Polish base in Hillah. Two cars packed with explosives attempted to crash through the gate of Camp Charlie - troops fired on the first car killing the driver, the second car ran into the first car and both exploded [according to the AP dispatch the vehicles were trucks, and the first one exploded after being fired upon and the second truck exploded after being fired upon and hitting a concrete barrier.]

The blast caused several nearby home to collapse and the victims included women and children. The 31 wounded include Iraqis and troops from Poland, the Philippines, Hungary and the US.

The AP report states that nearly 300 people (I presume they mean Iraqi civilians and terrorists) have been killed in attacks since the beginning of the year. Is anyone tracking casualty figures of Iraqi cvilians, Iraqi attackers and foreign attackers?

The US has instituted a 3-level system offering rewards for information leading to the capture of Ba'athist leaders and terror cells in Iraq, and for the first time have released a list of 32 individuals they wish to capture.

Read both links to get a fairly comprehensive picture.

Posted by Debbye at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

Oil Vouchers

Feb. 17 - This is interesting: remember sometime last April when someone in the British Parliament said that PM Tony Blair was "being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers"? I had since forgotten the person's name, but it was Father of the House Tam Dalyell, and his name has come up again in documents that have recently surfaced which allege that illicit funds from the Oil for Food program were used to finance anti-sanctions campaigns:

Undercover cash from oil deals went to three businessmen who in turn supported pressure groups involving the ex-Labour MP George Galloway, Labour MP Tam Dalyell, and the former Irish premier Albert Reynolds, it is alleged in documents compiled by the oil ministry, which is now under the control of the US occupation regime.
There's much more, so hop over to the post at Protocols (if blogspotted, run find and "Anti-Semite Was A Saddamist")

I wonder how more willing people would be to believe these documents had Halliburton executives appeared among the names?

(Via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

Democracy in Iraq

Feb. 17 - Alpha Patriot links to an interesting piece from the International Herald Tribune on the steps Iraq is making on the local level in Democracy Growing in Iraq which focuses on the selection of the civic caucus in Fallujah - during the gunfight.

Posted by Debbye at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food scandal

Feb. 16 - Roger L. Simon has been unrelenting in his insistence that the books of the UN sponsored Oil for Food program be opened for inspection and, despite mounting evidence and accusations of corruption, the UN has refused to do so.

I know why this issue is a burr under my saddle. For one thing, there's a small matter of national pride. For years, the US and UK were accused of complicity in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi babies. Osama bin Laden used this very accusation to justify the war al Qaeda has waged against the USA. Millions of people globally believed it.

The fact that this charge has been proven to be bogus has not (surprise!) elicited any apologies from those who focused much of their agitation and propaganda on this very point. The best reactions seemed to be much along the lines of well, even if you're not guilty of this you are guilty of other things.

Do mention that in any respectable court of law, guys, even as you utter your insistence of words like alleged.

But my anger is even more personal: I actually fell for that crap.

It gets worse. I opposed the '91 Gulf War. I marched in an anti-war march here in Toronto that winter and my sign read "This American says give sanctions a chance." I guess I was already working my way out of leftism, though, because once the war began, I prayed for a quick end but was outraged that we didn't finish the job. I regarded Saddam's brutal crackdown on the Shiite revolt as a crime in which the US was guilty by omission.

No, I'm not throwing any rocks at GHB. I've studied history too long and too thoroughly to dwell on might have beens. What actually happened in history is instructive; what might have happened is the stuff of fiction but not serious analysis.

I recognized early after Sept. 11 that the situation and the human cost from the sanctions in Iraq had to end, which is why I then advocated dealing with Saddam by any means necessary. (The unexpected consequence is that more than 2 years later, my family thinks I'm a freaking genius, but I digress.)

Anyway, if any of you wonder why I keep harping on this issue, that's the reason. It also is why I am so implacably angry at the UN.

This trip down memory lane has been brought to you courtesey of a recent thread over at Tim Blair's wherein a lot of people 'fessed up about their previous lefty sympathies. There are a lot of us out there.

Back to the UN Oil for Food scandel, Roger provides two links in his post on the scandel Oil Spills that raise yet more questions about the program and connect some dots.

The article over at Tech Central Station Oil for Fools looks very closely at the Russian as well as global connections that are accused. Those who would deny any wrong-doing have to face one unassailabile fact:

Third, persistent rumors are worth checking. Stories about Saddam's global payola have been in circulation for years, with nobody investigating.

Similar stories are in circulation about Saudi and Chinese influence-buying. It is high time the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Europe cooperated in investigating. (Emphasis added)

No Canadian is today in a position to disagree that the failure to investigate is, at this state, of criminal proportions.

The other link Roger provides is to the Radio Free Europe article (categorized under the Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch) Did Saddam Hussein buy support in Russia and the West? (Part 1) which answers a question that has been on my mind, namely how UNSC member Syria and the illegal pipeline that ran from Iraq to Syria might have factored in:

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute's (MEMRI) "Inquiry and Analysis Series, No. 160," of 29 January (http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=IA16004): "The voucher recipients sold the vouchers to oil traders, who then collected the oil against the vouchers from the Kirkuk-Banias (Syria) pipeline terminal, which was operating in contravention of the Security Council sanctions."

However, it seems feasible that some of these coupons were distributed to friends of the regime who then sold the oil and deposited most of the money into offshore accounts owned or controlled by Hussein or members of his inner circle. A portion of those vast sums might have been kept by recipients as "handling fees."

I recognize that some people reading this have already dismissed the claims, but I ask you: given that you have been lied to repeatedly by those who opposed the war in Iraq, what do you have to lose by considering the possibility that these assertions might be true?

One of the biggest demands among the left used to be "open the books." It remains a good demand. Should public and government funds should be subject to transparent accountability? The tax dollars of billions of people globally are what fund the UN (leaving aside the 2.2% commission that UN charged for administering the Oil for Food project) so I do believe the UN is accountable for how the money is spent.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Kofi Annan, like Adrienne Clarkson, considers himself "above politics" and doesn't it believe it necessary to answer questions as to how millions (billions, in Annan's case) of dollars have been spent.

Considering that the Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin, recently proclaimed that Canada's future lies with the United Nations, the fact that both the UN and Canada are embroiled in massive corruption scandels should be at least pause-worthy.

UPDATE: Jay Currie is also calling for an independent audit.

Posted by Debbye at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

Praise Allah and pass the ammunition

Feb. 16 - Posting will be sporadic today, but I'll be pointing the way to some excellent posts. The one that gave me a huge shot of adrenaline is over at Donald Sensing's blog and and praises the courage and fortitude of the Iraqi police in the recent firefight in Fallujah. A commenter points out that the firefight lasted 30 minutes which I hadn't recognized for what it is: testimony to the will and endurance of the police.

(I know I've stated this before, repeatedly, and maybe even excessively, but I'll never stop stating it: the events in Iraq right now are a testimony to the spark of freedom that has been given birth in Iraq. The coaltion forces that liberated that country only opened a door, and the Iraqis are rushing through it.)

GWB said long ago (or at least it seems long ago!) that freedom is not America's gift to the world but God's gift to the world. May whatever deity the brave men and women in Iraq worship bless them and smile down upon them. It won't be an easy transition, but few things of value in life are easy.

I shamelessly stole the title for this post from commenter htom at Donald's site.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

Abdul Razaq captured

Feb. 15 - Abdul Razaq was captured Sunday by the Iraqi Police:

The captured Abdul Razaq once headed Saddam's Baath Party in the northern provinces of Nineveh and Tamim, which include the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. He earlier served as interior minister, and Ibrahim said he kept a "personal prison" behind the police academy where "innocent people" were held in dog cages.
Normally I'd quibble over the use of death quotes for innocent people, but I'm too pleased for the Iraqi police to let that ruin my joy. Maybe she meant it as a true quote.
Police caught Abdul Razaq's trail when they were tipped off that his son was trying to obtain weapons and fake passports, Ibrahim said.

Police watched the elder Abdul Razaq for 10 days before the special operations unit - trained by U.S. experts - moved in on his house in the Baghdad suburb of Saydiya on Sunday afternoon and found him on the second floor, Ibrahim said. Abdul Razaq offered no resistance.

This is especially good news for the IP after the assault on a Fallujah police station which left so many dead. That raid was highly unusual in that it seemed to be performed by people with knowledge of small unit precision which has not hitherto been a feature of attacks in Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2004

Text of Zarqawi letter

Feb. 15 - Here is the Text of Zarqawi Letter. It's chilling.

UPDATE: Here's a new link that works.

Posted by Debbye at 03:10 AM | Comments (0)

Fallujah IP firefight

Feb. 14 - My oldest son asked me the other day how many Iraqis I think have died. I asked him "From terrorism?" assuming that was what he meant, and he stopped short. He's a reasonably well-read man, but I think even he had failed to absorb the fact that the death figures being circulated don't make that distinction either. He also hadn't really taken into account the strides the Iraqi people have taken to take charge of the security of Iraq and how courageously they have conducted themselves.

Wretchard has a post that ties in the 17-page letter purported to be from Abu Musâ'ab al-Zarqawi, the simultaneous attacks in Fallujah yesterday, and Iraqi police response At Their Finest Hour.

Kevin at Boots on the Ground feels very discouraged about the failure of the Iraqi Police to repel the raid in his post Frustration (if blogspotted, use find feature on your browser and "Frustration")

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Posted by Debbye at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

Police force in Iraq

Feb. 12 - I read this at DoD News: Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing which spoke to the release of the 17-page letter to al Qaeda leaders and two things stood out:

Some 300 Iraqi police officers have been killed in the line of duty or being targeted. A number of Iraqi police chiefs have been targeted. And yet, after each of them -- police stations have been targeted too. And after each one of these incidents, we have not seen a change in the recruiting trend line, in the pattern; it's been a constant upward slope.
Some of those deaths are from us in friendly fire incidents - that means they were killed by American fire - but that horrible fact hasn't deterred the Iraqi will for freedom nor has it pushed them into the camps of the Ba'athists or terrorists.
We find that despite attacks, Iraqis seem to be fully engaged and interested in playing a part in the security of their own country. And so, when we talk to Iraqis and they talk about a sense of national pride, and they talk about a sense of patriotism, about being involved in the security of their own country, we believe that these sorts of attacks tend to strengthen that sense of unity, that sense of patriotism, that sense of call to public service. And that continues.
The large number of Iraqis killed by what some call "insurgents" and others (like me) call terrorists means that people who keep hammering about American deaths might want to consider that the people of Iraq have stepped up to the plate to take charge of their future and they have not been deterred by attacks on their police, army, religious leaders and civilians. They are freedom fighters in the hard work sense of the term because they aren't doing the old guts and glory thing but the unsung, day-to-day jobs that doesn't make the news until some of them die but is indispensable toward forming a better Iraq. The people of Iraq have earned the full measure of our respect and support. Accord them that respect.

The other thing is my growing hatred of the phrase "innocent Iraqis" not because I don't think the civilians killed are innocent but because it is so patronizing and implies innocence as existing in a state of childhood, which has been proven to be wrong on every level by the actions of the Iraqis.

The people of Iraq are a strong, proud people, and they have earned the right to be regarded as such. Stop reducing their dignity by thinking of them as victims instead of what they are: a people who have dared to go into unknown terroritory by

a) trusting in the good intentions of the United States, and
b) trusting that they can prove that democracy is compatible with Islam.

I think their actions prove that they know exactly what is going on and what is at stake. Just because some people outside of Iraq believe it preferable that Iraqis be subject to any amount of plastic-shredding tyranny rather than endure the horror of gasoline and electric shortages doesn't make it so, and there are too many Iraqis who are capable and willing to see the bigger picture and brighter future.

To me, everything after the fall of Baghdad is going to plan because that plan was to let the Iraqi people engage in free debate and discourse over their future yet prevent a civil war.

One of the most encouraging signs is the seeds of grass-roots democracy in Iraq, and those are the seeds from which freedom and democracy grow and endure.

There is no precedent in the Middle East for the amount of freedom in Iraq these days and that alone is a victory, and given the number of publications that arose right after the liberation, I'd say the Iraqis are handling freedom just fine.

Judging by the fact that the Democrats' campaign strategy has been reduced to the wearying sniping about GWB's activities 30 years ago, I'd have to conclude that they realize that everything that has happened in Iraq has been a success in Big Picture terms.

Since things that happened 30 years ago are the rage of today, I've been trying to remember my own activities in 1970-72. I do remember what cities I lived in, and I know I was at SFSC until the end of 1971 and distinctly remember moving to Atlanta at the end of 1971, and I even think I remember where I worked that first summer in Atlanta and that it is really, really hot and humid in Atlanta during the summer, but had to refer to my college transcript to refresh my memory of what courses I took while I was in San Francisco and Atlanta and thus the details of my day-to-day activities.

It says I got an "A" in an upper division Lit course, Fables and Folklore in 1971 at SFSC. I took a course in Fables and Folklore? Hmm, I usually did well tests that were of the Essay Persuasion so that could be how I got an "A" in a course I don't even remember, but how about the "B" I got in Astronomy that same year? Considering how bad I am in science there had to have been much angst, teeth-gnashing and unseemly language given that the course would have involved mathematics and physics so I really ought to remember the anguish if not the course (although maybe my roommates might remember!) Oh well, at least now I know how I completed the Sciences requirement in the pursuit of Diploma Heaven.

There are some things I do remember. For example, I remember the May, 1970, invasion of Cambodia and the deaths at Kent State, and university students around the country going out on strike in protest. I remember the first Women's demonstration on August 26, 1970, celebrating 50 years of the vote, and I do remember being annoyed that the press could only focus on "bra-burning" even though it never happened.

I know there were two big anti-war demonstrations in 1971, and I remember meeting Harvey Milk at an anti-war planning meeting sometime in the Fall. He organized the Gays Against the War contingent in San Francisco that year.

I remember things that were of historical importance a lot more than what I was doing on any other, less important, days and, quite frankly, what any one person did on most of the other days of those years is extremely unimportant in any scheme of things.

But I'm not planning on asking the president what he was doing on August 26, 1970. Like most men back then, he probably watched the evening news and wondered what was with this Women's Lib stuff. I daresay Sen. Kerry had much the same reaction.

Posted by Debbye at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2004

Zarqawi letter

Feb. 10 - On Jan. 23, a block of cyanide salt and an electronic copy of a 17-page letter were found during a raid on a Baghdad safe house. Portions of the letter are in today's NY Times (Violence: U.S. Aides Report Evidence Tying Al Qaeda to Attacks.)

The letter contained a request for assistance from al Qaeda and report to senior al Qaeda members:

In a raid on a safe house in Baghdad on Jan. 23, American officials found an electronic copy of a document believed to have been written by Mr. Zarqawi. That document was a detailed proposal asking senior leaders of Al Qaeda for help in waging a "sectarian war" against Shiites in Iraq in the next six months. Parts of it were made available to The New York Times.

The writer of that document indicated that he had directed about 25 suicide bombings inside Iraq, "some of them against Shiites and their leaders, the Americans and their military, and the police, the military and the coalition forces." A senior United States intelligence official in Washington said Sunday that he knew of "no reason to believe the letter is bogus in any way."

The letter is another piece of evidence that may connect al Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to three of the most devastating car-bomb attacks in Iraq during the past six months: the August car-bombing of an important mosque in Najaf which killed 83 people including the Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, the August car-bombing of the Bagdhad UN HQ at the Canal Hotel, and the November bombing attack on the Italian police station in Nasiriya. Over 100 Iraqis died in those attacks.
In the period before the war, Bush administration officials argued that Mr. Zarqawi constituted the main link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. At the United Nations in February, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell accused Iraq of harboring "a deadly terrorist network" headed by Mr. Zarqawi, whom he called "an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants."


Last fall, American military, intelligence and law enforcement officials said they did not know whether the August bombings were part of a coordinated campaign. At the time, they said they were wrestling with several competing theories about who might be behind them, including the possibility that they were carried out by former members of the Iraqi military or paramilitary forces.

Investigators said at the time that they had not seen a common signature in the bombings, but that the attack at the United Nations headquarters and another on the Jordanian Embassy had used vehicles packed with explosives drawn from old Iraqi military stocks. American officials have not said publicly what kinds of explosives were used in the attacks in Najaf and Nasiriya.

On Monday, senior American officials were careful to describe Mr. Zarqawi as "an associate" of Al Qaeda rather than a member. American military officials say that at least 90 percent of the attacks on United States troops are thought to have been carried out by Iraqi Sunnis opposed to the occupation.

An item at a DoD website commenting on the story confirms the information and details of the NY Times story and links the letter to Hassad al-Ghul, who was intercepted carrying the letter near the Iranian border last month.
Meanwhile, U.S., coalition, and Iraqi forces are keeping the pressure on insurgents in Iraq, Kimmitt reported, noting that 1,520 patrols, 16 offensive operations and 18 raids have been conducted in the past 24 hours. Seventy-eight anti-coalition suspects, [Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmet] he added, were detained during that time frame.
The CNN story on today's car-bombing says that the letter was meant for delivery to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri [so they are together?] and contains a clue as their biggest tactical problem:
But the writer states that few Iraqis have been willing to support his fighters beyond offering them refuge and says they will "lose the pretext" for waging attacks if a new Iraqi government takes power as scheduled at the end of June.

Senor said the letter "was clearly intended to be read by senior leadership of al Qaeda outside Iraq." It asks the intended recipients' help "to bring the Shia into the battle," according to an excerpt published in the Times.

"It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us," it says. "If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis, who are fearful of destruction and death" in a potential civil war.

Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter who was given access to the document by the U.S. military, told CNN it was "sort of part business plan and part plea for help."

"Basically, they were saying, 'It's really hard here. We're not getting a lot of support. We think we're losing. Here is this sort of last-ditch plan that we can come up with. Can you help?' "

Further, Filkins said, the author of the document was deferential to the recipient, telling him: " 'We realize that you're the big fish, and we're not competing with you, but we are at your disposal. And you just tell us what you need to do, and here are our ideas.' "

A police station and neighbouring courthouse were car-bombed this morning in Iskandariyah killing over 40 people and wounded several others. Iskandariyah is about 25 mi. south of Baghdad.

The Fox article notes that Hassan al Ghul was arrested by Kurdish forces near the Iranian border as he attempted to enter the country from Iran:

The Times report quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying that American forces arrested a man who had the document on a computer disk and was taking it to Afghanistan to get it to Al Qaeda's senior leaders.

The author of the document claimed he had directed about 25 suicide bombings inside Iraq, but said the resistance against the U.S. occupation was struggling to recruit Iraqis and to combat American troops.

The memo even offers a kind of praise for U.S. forces, saying "America, however, has no intention of leaving no matter how many wounded nor how bloody it becomes."

The letter expresses frustration over efforts to force the United States out of Iraq and suggests that attacks on Shiites would prompt retaliation against Sunnis and a cycle of widening violence, the newspaper said.

"It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us," the letter says, according to the New York Times. "If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands" of Shiites, it said.

The Fox report says that the letter will be released today.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the first NY Times article on the letter from yesterday.

Posted by Debbye at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2004

Journalistic fascism

Feb. 3 - Interesting column by Martin Kettle of the Guardian (UK) about some of the lessons and reactions to the Hutton Inquiry The threat to the media is real. It comes from within:

[Former BBC Today producer Rod] Liddle's article in the current Spectator exemplifies this approach, and incarnates a great deal of what is wrong with modern journalism. Liddle's article is wrong on the facts (Lord Franks, chairman of the inquiry into the Falklands war, was not a judge, much less a law lord), sneering (Lord Hutton's Ulster brogue is mocked, and he is described as anachronistic and hopelessly naive), and unapologetic (the best Liddle can manage is that Gilligan's famous 6.07am report went "a shade too far"). Above all, Liddle's piece is arrogant, embodied in his remarkable final sentence: "I think, as a country, we've had enough of law lords."

Think about the implications of that. To Liddle's fellow practitioners of punk journalism, it can be excused as sparky, or justified on the grounds that it is what a lot of other people are saying. To criticise it is to be condemned as boring or, like Hutton, hopelessly naive. To me, though, it smacks of something bordering on journalistic fascism, in which all elected politicians are contemptible, all judges are disreputable and only journalists are capable of telling the truth, even though what passes for truth is sometimes little more than prejudice unsupported by facts.

Posted by Debbye at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

Mark Steyn

Feb. 3 - He who should have a column running in at least one Canadian paper whacks the BBC, Greg Dyke and multilateralism in The alternative to war was simple: defeat.

There was no sharper way to draw a distinction between the new geopolitical landscape and the September 10 world than by removing a man who symbolised the weakness and irresolution of "multilateralism". He was left in power back in 1991 in order, as Colin Powell airily conceded in his memoirs, to keep the UN coalition intact. Lesson number one: don't form coalitions with people who don't share your war aims.

If the Gulf war was a cautionary tale in the defects of unbounded multilateralism, the Iraq war is a lesson in the defects of even the most circumscribed coalition. The Americans settled on WMD as the preferred casus belli because it was the one Blair could go along with: as one of his Cabinet ministers told me, they were advised that a simple policy of regime change - the Clinton/Bush line - would have been illegal. So they plumped for WMD. American and British intelligence were convinced Saddam had 'em, as were the French and Germans. Saddam thought he had 'em. So did his generals. It's believed that they were ordered to be used against the Americans as they galloped up to Baghdad from Kuwait. But when Saddam got there, the cupboard was bare. Strange, but apparently true. Anyone who's really fearless in his search for the truth can read David Kay's conclusions: it's a much more interesting story than "Blair lied!"

So Saddam didn't have WMD. Conversely, Colonel Gaddafi did. And hands up anyone who knew he did until he announced he was chucking it in. The only way you can be absolutely certain your intelligence about a dictator's weapons is accurate is when you look out the window and see a big mushroom cloud over Birmingham...

The Left is remarkably nonchalant about these new terrors. When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, the Left was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute, and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted number in Islamabad in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left couldn't care less.

The supposition that Saddam thought he had weapons (advanced by David Warren in his essay about the Intelligence Failure) is gaining credibility because it fits the facts once we drop what we thought we knew and look at what we now know
Saddam put himself personally in charge of all the weapons programmes, and trusting no one except the people running them for him, allowed them to pocket huge amounts of oil money for projects that never bore any fruit. Copious hypothetical plans were drawn up, and again and again the Kay teams found the paper equivalent of a "smoking gun", only to be unable to pair it with real-life evidence. That was because Saddam's weapons programmes -- except for some progress in illicit missile-making -- existed only on paper.

The result was, every senior person in Saddam's regime sincerely believed that, while he did not himself have access to "WMD", almost everyone else had.

That might explain why chemical protection suits and injection kits were found in abandoned warehouses near the front but no trace of weapons: they were guarding against other Iraqi units deploying WMD.

I've no doubt that the results of the inquiry will be highly politicized and despite the long list of recommendations that will undoubtably come out of it, they won't be able to circumvent the fact that human intelligence is subject to human frailty, and it's still a guessing game.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2004

Saddam's Oil Voucher Gifts

Jan. 30 - Stephen Green posts and has begun googling the Roll Call of Saddam's alleged pay roll from the list on the ABC news website (Saddam's Gifts.)

(To answer an earlier question, ABC states the list is composed of people who bought oil at a discounted price and then resold it to legitimate brokers or oil companies.)

What's important to me, not surprisingly, are the background of the 2 Americans on the list, so seeing the one googlable (ha!) name, Samir Vincent, was someone who has worked to get the sanctions lifted wasn't a surprise, but seeing his connection to Empower America was the last thing I would have expected.

This is the list provided by ABC:

The Companies of the Russian Communist Party: 137 million
The Companies of the Liberal Democratic Party: 79.8 million
The Russian Committee for Solidarity with Iraq: 6.5 million and 12.5 million (2 separate contracts)
Head of the Russian Presidential Cabinet: 90 million
The Russian Orthodox Church: 5 million

Charles Pasqua, former minister of interior: 12 million
Trafigura (Patrick Maugein), businessman: 25 million
Ibex: 47.2 million
Bernard Merimee, former French ambassador to the United Nations: 3 million
Michel Grimard, founder of the French-Iraqi Export Club: 17.1 million

Firas Mostafa Tlass, son of Syria's defense minister: 6 million

Zeynel Abidin Erdem: more than 27 million
Lotfy Doghan: more than 11 million

Megawati Sukarnoputri: 11 million

Ali Ballout, Lebanese journalist: 8.8 million

The Socialist Party: 22 million
Kostunica's Party: 6 million

Arthur Millholland, president and CEO of Oilexco: 9.5 million

Father Benjamin, a French Catholic priest who arranged a meeting between the pope and Tariq Aziz: 4.5 million
Roberto Frimigoni: 24.5 million

United States
Samir Vincent: 7 million
Shakir Alkhalaji: 10.5 million

United Kingdom
George Galloway, member of Parliament: 19 million
Mujaheddin Khalq: 36.5 million

South Africa
Tokyo Saxwale: 4 million

Shaker bin Zaid: 6.5 million
The Jordanian Ministry of Energy: 5 million
Fawaz Zureikat: 6 million
Toujan Al Faisal, former member of Parliament: 3 million

The son of President Lahoud: 5.5 million

Khaled Abdel Nasser: 16.5 million
Emad Al Galda, businessman and Parliament member: 14 million

Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian Liberation Organization: 4 million
Abu Al Abbas: 11.5 million

Hamad bin Ali Al Thany: 14 million

Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem: 1 million

Foreign minister of Chad: 3 million

The October 8th Movement: 4.5 million

Myanmar (Burma)
The minister of the Forests of Myanmar: 5 million

The Social Democratic Party: 8.5 million
The Communist Party: 6 million
The Socialist Party: 2 million
The FTD oil company: 2 million

Does anyone else find this list depressing? There's always a part of me that wants to be wrong about how cynically corrupt some of these yahoos are.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: JunkYard Dog analyzes the ABC report and comes up with confirmation and more informtion about how the pay-offs worked.

UPDATE: M'kay, the Washington Times might be overstating here (charge of corruption against Chirac) but whatever will they say about this: Ex-French PM Alain Juppe guilty of corruption and more indepth from the NY Times here. Mitterand, d'Estaing . . . I guess it's that law that forbids charges being levied while the official is in office that proves how enlightened the Europeans are compared to us rubes.

Posted by Debbye at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2004

Canadian named as recipient of oil vouchers

Jan. 28 - According to a story in today's Globe and Mail, a Canadian businessman was named as one of those who received free oil for backing Saddam. Arthur Millholland, president of Calgary-based Oilexco Inc., is said to have received one million barrels of oil.

The allegations of bribery were published in an Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada, which cited documents obtained from the former State Oil Organisation, or Somo, which the Daily Telegraph (UK) describes as the commercial arm of Saddam's oil ministry.

The Daily Telegraph article focuses on the international nature of the scandal

Saddam Hussein bribed his way around the world, buying the support of presidents, ministers, legislators, political parties and even Christian churches, according to documents published in Iraq.

The list of those who allegedly benefited from Saddam's largesse spans 46 countries.

According to the newspaper al-Mada, one of the new publications that have emerged since the removal of the dictator, Saddam offered each of his friends lucrative contracts to trade in millions of barrels of Iraqi crude under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

The 270 individuals and organisations alleged to be in his pay included the sons of a serving Arab president, Arab ministers, a prominent Indonesian leader, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, the party led by the Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and even the Russian Orthodox Church.

There's more, so read the whole thing.

Will this latest allegation force the UN to open the books of the Oil for Food program?

Roger L. Simon has been in the forefront of those urging the books be opened. He posts on this latest development, Naming Names, and also links to Merde in France which in turn links to the Le Monde article about the French connection, so those with working French might want to check it out.

Tim Blair links to the complete list and the translation of the complete list. No Australians have been named but some Austrians (which might explain why initial reports were conflicting) but George Galloway's name appears several times.

One cautionary reminder: we've been down this road of documents recovered in Baghdad provide evidence of corruption and perfidy only to see it fizzle when the documents turned out to be forgeries, so handsprings and whoops of joy are postponed until confirmation.

But, as Capt. Sheridan said, You can't kill the truth. (And yes, I know what his follow-up was, but work with me here, okay?)

UPDATE: Enter Stage Right has more, including a good memory back to an earlier rumour about Swiss bank accounts. Maybe the deal wasn't for actual oil after all, but for the proceeds of undocumented oil sales.

Posted by Debbye at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2004

Flags of unilateral power

Jan. 27 - Murdoc has a striking post Flags of the unilateral power. (I highly recommend standing during this display -- as a sign of respect.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Al Qaeda in Fallujah?

Jan. 23 - Rantburg reports on the capture of a deputy, Husam al-Yemeni, of al Qaeda leader Abu Zarqawi and the suspicion that there is an al Qaeda cell in Fallujah.

Fox reports that another possible al Qaeda member, Hasan Ghul, was also detained in Iraq.

UPDATE: The Washington Times has more background on Ghul including his connection to Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.

Things are really getting sticky: the Iranian government has announced it plans to try 12 members of al Qaeda (although they won't release their names) but an allegation has been made by a witness that Iran was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks during proceedings in the German trial of Abdelghani Mzoudi who is being tried for as an accomplice in the attacks.

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has no problem with climbing out on a branch and sawing it off, but I've been rubbing my hands with anticipation since she trashed the Australians, and they are responding. Heh.

A Canadian citizen who lives in Minneapolis, Mohammed Abdullah Warsame has been indited for providing material support to al Qaeda.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

Canada's bargaining chip

Jan. 23 - When I first read that Canada was to be allowed to submit bids in the second round of the reconstruction contracts in Iraq, my immediate reaction was to wonder what was used as a bargaining chip.

One answer: Canada forgives Iraqi debt of $750 million, or at least "the majority of it."

Posted by Debbye at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2004

US Relationship with Saddam

Jan. 14 - Some myths just won't die. It doesn't matter how often they get staked, they seem to come back more often than Darla (gratuitous Buffy-Angel gripe. Or insert LaCroix for some CanCon.)

For yet another rebuttal to the myth that the US propped up or created Saddam, this post from Darren Kaplan looks at just the facts: The U.S. Relationship With Saddam--Fantasy vs. Reality.

Posted by Debbye at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2004

Danes find mortars leaking unknown fluid

Jan. 10 - Iraqi Mortar Shells Leaking Mysterious Fluid:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Danish soldiers on Saturday uncovered a cache of mortar shells leaking an unknown fluid, and tests are under way to determine whether they contain chemical agents, an American officer said.

The 30 to 40 120mm mortar shells, which may have been left over from the Iran-Iraq war, were found buried in the desert south of Baghdad, U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said at a news conference.

Most of the shells were wrapped in plastic bags and some were leaking a mysterious fluid - leading officials to suspect chemical weapons, he said.

I pretty much figured a few weeks into the fall of Baghdad that no matter what we might find, far too many people would believe that we had planted it and any find of WMD now is unlikely to sway people one way or the other.

That being said, I also figured that anything that we found was unlikely to fall into the wrong (read enemy) hands.

So why post this? Because the find was by Danes, another member of the "unilateral" coalition who have been staunch allies.

UPDATE: It's official; the shells do not contain WMD, nor do they have any markings indicating country of origin.

Posted by Debbye at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2004

Iraq, Kashmir bombings

Jan. 9 - 5 killed in attack on Iraqi mosque:

BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) -- A car[*] rigged with explosives exploded outside a Shiite Muslim mosque as worshippers streamed out of Friday prayers, killing five people and wounding 37, according to medical officials in the central Iraqi town of Baqouba.
The AP report attributes the attack to tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims which, although probable, is not the only possibility.

There are a number of groups that would like to undermine Iraqi unity by exacerbating tensions between the two Muslim groups, and attacks on mosques certainly does that.

* Note: some reports claim the bomb was in a bicycle.

And in another hotspot, Kashmir, hand grenade explodes in mosque wounding 15. According to the report, a hand grenade was thrown onto a rooftop during Friday prayers in Jammu, a predominantly Hindu city. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kashmir has been wracked by violence since 1989, when Islamic guerrillas launched an insurgency to wrest the province from Indian control. More than 65,000 people have been killed in the conflict. (My emphasis because that number is horrifying.)
This is the first major attack in Kashmir since Pakistan and India took steps to reduce hostilities.

Again, the hard part is trying to ascertain if Hindus or Muslims threw the grenade in an effort to disrupt peace efforts.

Ironically, Retuers has an article by it's Religious Editor, Tom Heneghan, who reports that Europeans are puzzled by U.S. mix of faith, politics. (Okay, I freely admit that I am weary of everyone being "puzzled" by Americans when all anyone has to do is read our history, our writings and the First Amendment, so the subject already has my irritable attention.)

What is so hard to understand? Politicians (and, for that matter, the people) feel comfortable chatting about their religious views because we have absolutely no fear that the religion of the President or anyone else will ever be imposed on the population. (Ref. US Constitution, Amendments I and II, which is to say that the country would cease to exist before that could happen.)

Aren't there groups like the Inter-Faith Council in Europe? So far as I know, none of their meetings in the US have degenerated into fisticuffs or gunfights. You worship in your faith, I'll worship in mine, and let's organize a pot luck supper for our congregations (or equivalent) so they can get to know one and understand one another better.

People of all religions have plenty of common ground. Just mention kids (and especially teenagers) and watch the heads nod and laughter erupt as we compare stories about the trials and tribulations of bringing up children.

If the Europeans are truly puzzled by the role of religion in the US, they could regain some perspective by reading Jay Currie's comments on The Saudi Paradox, or ponder the anachronistic Council of Guardians in Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2004

Witnesses to Evil

Jan. 4 - Maybe it's just hard for us to believe that real human beings can act like monsters, much less be monsters. It certainly has been proven that individuals, like Paul Bernardo, can torture their prey for days before finally killing them, but it was a bigger shock to find that his accomplice was his wife. But we quickly categorize them as psychopaths who usually work alone or at most as a pair.

It is even harder to believe that several hundred or even thousands of people can be involved in sadism. I say this even knowing about the concentration camps and "medical experiments" of the Holocaust because howevermuch I may know it happened, my mind balks at the thought that the perpetrators were actual people. I don't know if that makes sense, this disconnect between what I know to be the truth yet what I can only barely believe happened.

Maybe I need to create a new "moment" which I'll call something like a how could they moment.

We all heard stories from Iraq, and the weight of evidence was such that we reluctantly were forced to know that terrible things were happening to the people in that country but these things were so terrible that, much like reports before our soldiers actually entered the concentration camps, things we thought might be exagerated turned out to be grossly understated.

In the midst of ongoing discoveries of mass graves, it is important to remember that there are living witnesses as well. Some of their stories are in this AP article Witnesses to evil and they and others like them deserve justice.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 PM | Comments (1)

Volunteers from Bulgaria

Jan. 4 - I didn't realize that all the Bulgarian soldiers stationed in Iraq were there voluntarily. Following the attacks that left 5 soldiers dead, more than two dozen waiting to be rotated to Iraq have decided not to go after all as replacement troops in early January.

According to Gen. Nikolai Kolev, the army chief of staff, those who have changed their minds will have to refund the costs of their training and medical examinations.

Posted by Debbye at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

Tony Blair visits iraq

Jan. 4 - British PM Tony Blair made a surprise visit to southern Iraq today visiting troops and Basra governor, Judge Wael Abdullatif.

Posted by Debbye at 07:38 PM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2004

Terrorists disguised as journalists

Jan. 3 - Another violation of the rules of war according to this:

Attackers posing as journalists fired assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at paratroopers guarding the burning aircraft, the military said.


Soon after [a helicopter was shot down], five men "wearing black press jackets with 'press' clearly written in English" fired on U.S. paratroopers guarding the crash site, Kimmitt said.

He said it was the first time he had heard of assailants in Iraq posing as journalists.

It's not the first time that disguise has been used elsewhere, however.

Posted by Debbye at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2004

Syria entry for Russian arms into Iraq

Jan 1 - A Dec. 30 article in the LA Times on how Banned Arms Flowed Into Iraq Through Syrian Firm is full of surprises, and most gratifyingly, specifics.

These are representative of how adept the Saddam regime was at circumventing UN sanctions:

- Russia's Millenium Company Ltd. signed an $8.8-million contract in September 2002 to supply mostly American-made communications and surveillance gear to Iraq's intelligence service. The company's general manager in Moscow later wrote to suggest "the preparation of a sham contract" to deceive U.N. weapons inspectors, documents show.

- Slovenia's STO Ravne company, then a state-owned entity, shipped 20 large battle tank barrels identified as "steel tubes" to SES in February 2002. The next month, Slovenia's Defense Ministry blocked the company from exporting 50 more tank barrels to Syria. Overall, STO Ravne's secret contract called for delivering 175 tank barrels to Iraq.

Naturally, I headed straight to see what Roger L. Simon would have to say about this latest evidence of corruption in the Oil-for-Food program.

I don't mean offense when I say that Simon's response was predictable (he's been a steady champion of the need to investigate that program) but the source of the story is interesting:

One of my favorite new website/blogs THE AMERICAN THINKER has an interesting article on the LA Times scoop regarding Syria's funneling arms to Saddam.Evidently this expose originated with a reporter for the German news magazine Stern. The reporter, for reasons we can only guess at, turned his information over to the LAT who then spent three months corroborating it.
Intriguing much? The American Thinker clears up some how this investigative report came to be placed in the hands of the LA Times.

Further surprises are in the comments, and the (unfortunately unverifiable) reports from people who have experience working with the UN.

One of the commenters supplied a link to an Opinion Journal Sept. 2002 piece about the program by Claudia Rosett. She puts things into perspective with her first sentence:

Who is Saddam Hussein's biggest business partner?

The United Nations. The same U.N. whose secretary-general, Kofi Annan, stands as one of the chief ditherers over removing Saddam. Here are the ingredients of a conflict of interest.

(LA Times link via Instapundit, American Thinker link via Roger L. Simon.)

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail here reports on the Canadian connection.

Posted by Debbye at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Coalition KIA in Iraq

Dec. 28 - More details on the terrorist attacks that killed 4 Bulgarian and 2 Thai soldiers and information about the latest attack which killed one US soldier and two Iraqi children here and here.

Kevin reports on the attacks from Iraq and the response:

The CPA has been doing a great job thus far fighting militarily. Capturing DOZENS of terrorists on a daily bases. Sometimes, innocent people get rolled up sometimes. I am sure it upsets them, however, it is necessary. One good thing though, more and more counter-terrorists groups are being activated and taking over the job of raids and everything else. Though, our military has done a fantastic job with fighting the terrorists, despite an average of 1 death a day. The only way it will be won is by cooperation between Iraqis and CPA and IP (Iraqi Police) and Iraq's own military. I think the Coalition has set Iraq up for success. I don't any doubt in my mind that the new front on the war on terror in Iraq will be won by both CPA and the Iraqi people. We just have to be resolved and patient.
Resolve. Patience. Faith in the Iraqi people. He summed it all up with 7 words.

Heh, he also reports on a new song making the rounds.

Posted by Debbye at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

New Iraqi bloggers

Dec. 28 - Zeyad of Healing Iraq welcomes two new Iraqi bloggers:

Sarmad of Road of a Nation, and a family blog called, appropriately,
A Family in Baghdad by Salem Pax's friend Raed and his brothers Khalid, Majid and their mother Fayza.

A spectrum of bloggers has emerged in Iraq giving voice to optimistic, cynical and critical thoughts. To me, that means that one of the transitions to democratic ideals is happening right now because of that spectrum, they already "get it." The difference now is that they can publish their thoughts and don't need to whisper.

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

IP, Coalition KIA in Karbala

Dec. 27 - In Karbala, Fatal attacks hit Polish-controlled Iraq. Reports are contradictory, with one report saying the dead included Polish, another saying Bulgarian soldiers died, and another saying two Thai engineers were killed.

This Fox report has a death toll of 11 including 6 Iraqi police officers and 4 coalition soldiers.

Armed with car bombs, mortars and machine guns, insurgents launched three coordinated attacks in the southern city of Karbala on Saturday, killing 11 people - including six Iraqi police officers and four coalition soldiers, military and hospital officials said.

An Iraqi civilian also was killed.

The attacks also wounded at least 172 people, with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt saying 37 of them were coalition soldiers, including five Americans.

Some 135 Iraqi police officers and civilians also were wounded, said Ali al-Arzawi, deputy head of Karbala General Hospital.

"It was a coordinated, massive attack planned for a big scale and intended to do much harm," said Maj. Gen. Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, head of the Polish-led multinational force responsible for security around Karbala, from his headquarters at Camp Babylon in comments carried on Polish television.

The car bombers were shot before they could enter the military bases, he added.

The city's university, police station and mayor's office were also targeted.

UPDATE: Fox has identified the nationalities of the eleven dead to include four Bulgarian and two Thai soldiers, six Iraqi police officers and one Iraqi civilian.

Posted by Debbye at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2003

The Clinton View of Iraq al-Qaeda Ties

Dec. 24 - From the Weekly Standard, The Clinton View of Iraq-al Qaeda Ties:

ARE AL QAEDA'S links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq just a fantasy of the Bush administration? Hardly. The Clinton administration also warned the American public about those ties and defended its response to al Qaeda terror by citing an Iraqi connection.
Interesting reading, and good rebuttal to those who persist in thinking that al Qaeda is a bogeyman dreamt up by the current Administration.

Posted by Debbye at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2003

Les Shaw's generosity to the troops

Dec. 22 - There is one Canadian who knows the Price of freedom and is expressing his gratitude directly to the families who have lost loved ones: 76-year old Les Shaw is sending the families of American soldiers who died protecting democracy overseas $2,000 and $2,500 to the familes of the 6 Canadian soliders who died in Afghanistan.

"We in North America and other parts of the world, we take freedom for granted," Shaw, who now lives in Barbados, said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

"Yet here's these young fellows and their families who are giving the ultimate sacrifice to sustain the freedom we enjoy."

Shaw sent a letter with the gifts:
"It is too easy for many of us in North America to take our wonderful freedoms for granted; obviously, your loved one did not," Shaw's letter reads.

"Please accept this small token as a gesture of heartfelt thanks from an appreciative Canadian. Spend it however you think your fallen hero would want."

The letters prompted more than 100 heart-wrenching replies, many stuffed with family photos and other tokens of remembrance from grieving parents, widows and widowers whose anguish leaps from the page.

Shaw's 22-year old nephew is in Baghdad with US forces. He went public with his gifts when casualties continued after his planned cut-off date of July 31 and hopes another will step in to continue his philanthrophy.

UPDATE: Smug Canadian has some interesting thoughts here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2003

Aznar visits troops in Iraq

Dec. 20 - Good on him: Spanish PM makes surprise Iraq visit to the 1300 Spanish troops there. Earlier it had been announced that the Spanish will remain in Iraq until June, 2004, an additional 6 months than their initial committment.

The Fox coverage also has more information on the visit and mentions the 1,000 Japanese troops going to Iraq for humanitarian purposes

Also, the Pentagon has listed the number of US soldiers killed by hostile fire since the president declared an end to major combat operations at 200.

Posted by Debbye at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2003

Pro-democracy rallies in Iraq

Dec. 17 - Zeyad of Healing Iraq is published online in the Weekly Standard piece Pro-democracy rallies in Iraq, and more..

I can't imagine how much Saddam's capture will increase the size of the demonstrations, and I hope the media finally leaves their poolside chairs to cover them.

Who could have imagined only one year ago that Iraqis would be able to take freely to the streets and demonstrate - and I include the demos against US presence as well - without coercion or fear? The best part is the eagerness with which so many people in Iraq are embracing control of their destinies and finding their voices.

When dreams become reality . . . I think Robert Kennedy would be gratified that his words of so many years ago (Some see things as they are and ask why? I see things as they could be and ask why not?) have gained renewed meaning.

Why not indeed.

I'm off to work on a marathon schedule. Take care and keep the faith.

Posted by Debbye at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Robin Williams in Baghdad

Dec. 17 - Robin Williams opened his show in Baghdad with Good morning Bagh-dad!. He was entertaining the troops along with Shannon Tweed, wrestler Kurt Angle and stock car driver Mike Wallace.

The Meatriarchy reports that another noted Hollywood actor, John Rhys-Davies, took a strong and passionate stand for Western civilization and freedom, and scolded the media for failing to appreciate those values.

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Irwin Cotler strikes out

Dec. 16 - It seems my hope that Irwin Cotler's appointment as Minister of Justice could be a good step were ill-based. Trudeaupia has a fine fisking of the "perfect Trudeaupian idiot" and his notion of letting the UN deal with Saddam. (Ctrl+F "Idiot du Jour".)

Posted by Debbye at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

Satan's Grotto

Dec. 16 - The Sun (UK) doesn't spare any words in their description of what they term Satan's Grotto, i.e., Saddam's last residence until his capture.

They speculate that US forces caught the "monster" napping.

Posted by Debbye at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

Saddam betrayed by 2nd wife?

Dec. 16 - Saddam betrayed by his wife note that the headline use of the word "betrayed" may be a bit of a stretch, but I have to wonder what's going on when $55 million isn't enough:

SADDAM Hussein was captured in a filthy underground hole because of the demands of the one woman he still trusted.

She is Samira Shahbander, the second of his four wives.

And now she may receive part of, if not all, of the $US25million ($33.8 million) bounty the US Government promised for information that led to the capture of the Iraqi dictator.

Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had been tailing her since she fled to Beirut, Lebanon, before the US invasion.

In a tapped phone call last Thursday she arranged to meet the former dictator that weekend after demanding more cash.

But the meeting was cancelled at the last minute - perhaps because Saddam was beginning to feel the heat that US forces were closing in. Late last Friday, US soldiers captured an Iraqi fugitive they had been hunting since July - who is believed to have given them the former dictator's exact location - a farm at Ad Dawr, about 15km from Tikrit, his ancestral home and where he was caught late Saturday.

Last March, with the coalition forces closing in, Saddam arranged for Samira and their son Ali to flee to Lebanon.

With her she took $US5 million in cash and a trunk of gold bars from the vaults of the Central Bank of Iraq.

She told friends she was going first to France and then to Moscow - that Saddam had been secretly promised by Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, to give her sanctuary.

Read the whole thing. It not only contains some more information as to how and when Mossad contacted the US, but also some chilling revelations about Samira's reaction to Usay and Kusay's deaths.

Much as I would love to sink Putin and the Russians, please note that the article only says that she told friends about the offer of sanctuary, which doesn't mean that the offer existed.

Posted by Debbye at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

Connecting Saddam to al Qaeda

Dec. 15 - I've seen this a couple of places: Does this link Saddam to 9/11? from the Daily Telegraph (UK) which tells of a document written and signed by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti (thus far uncaptured) who was the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). The document is about a visit to Iraq by Mohammed Atta and states that he was hosted in Abu Nidal's house.

UPDATE: Prompted by a commenter, we need to remember that literally scores of fake documents have been sold in Iraq since the fall of Saddam, and even though authorities think this document is genuine, it may be still be proven to be fake. Same goes for the second document further down. Skepticism is a always good rule of thumb.

Abu Nidal was murdered in August, 2001, one month after Atta's visit. Attempts were made to make it look like a suicide, but somehow shooting oneself 4 times in the head made people skeptical. CORRECTION: The Telegraph article is wrong: Nidal was killed in 2002. I myself was too quick to look at the month and not double-check the date. It also brings home to me how much has happened these past two years.

Another document concerned a shipment from Niger to Baghdad by way of Libya and Syria.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Deroy Murdock in National Review Online brings up some other connections between Saddam and Sept. 11 and thinks Saddam should be questioned on them.

Good time to re-post the links to Weekly Standard's Case Closed Pt. I and Part II.

UPDATE: From Instapundit, Newsweek asserts the document placing Atta in Iraq is a forgery. They also claimed that the first Weekly Standard article referenced above was wrong, so Part II (also referenced above) was written to rebut Newsweek's claims. (Am I psychic or what? Er, probably the correct answer is what. I included the link WS links because of the Murdock column.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

Reactions to Saddam's capture

Dec. 15 - Now for reactions from a Canadian perspective: Peter Worthington declares Independence Day for Iraqis arrives

The good news is that they got him. The bad news is that he was taken alive. That's the immediate, visceral reaction to the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Heh. I know how he feels.

Bob MacDonald gives full marks to coalition perseverance, and like Worthington, points out that PM Martin is on the hot seat.

The Toronto Sun editorial (one day link life) calls for letting the Iraqis deal with Saddam.

Naturally, the Toronto Star editorial calls for an international tribunal under the auspices of a United Nations.

I guess they want to conceal the corruption of the UN Oil-for-food program, because that would be the effect. Yes sirree, it's been my personal experience that trials are fairest when the prosecution and jury are composed of the accused's collaborators.

Tony Blair has stated that the Iraqi people should decide Saddam's fate. The Telegraph has several links on the side bar of the article.

The Sun (UK) unabashedly has a photo of Chirac and Saddam toasting one another in the article Even Chirac gives thanks. The article has a quick round-up of the congratulatory messages sent by world leaders, but quite frankly, the only ones that really count are those from our allies.

Canadian PM Paul Martin heaped praise on the coalition forces and said we could look forward to a different level of reconstruction but called for a credible trial for Hussein:

"I am convinced it will be a trial, a court of international competence," Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin Martin said, giving the past examples of international tribunals in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia.

"What is important, is that he be tried before a tribunal that is just, credible and that has international recognition," Martin said.

International recognition? Oh, he also means a tribunal with Weasel Recognition. The Weasels and NGOs like Amnesty International cannot recognize an Iraqi tribunal because that would mean recognition that they are not the lone representatives of justice.

Suddenly, I find an additional reason to be glad the UN skedaddled. They can't claim jurisdiction after running away!

I'm not trying to insult Canadians because many of them have been totally supportive of US action in Iraq, but the simple fact is that Canada has very little to say about what happens in Iraq. Blame Chretien, blame the feckless Parliament, but Canada did not even pay lip service to that which would have given her a credible voice in Saddam's prosecution before the war and gave lukewarm (and much amended) support in the middle of the war.

I haven't been able to find any comments by Opposition Leader Stephen Harper, but I seriously doubt he'll pay tribute to the UN. Harper is a proud Canadian and no weasel.

UPDATE: Following an idea from the first commenter, I returned to the Canadian Alliance webpage, searched their press release archives and found this from yesterday:

"Thanks to the decisive action of our friends and allies, Saddam Hussein is no longer in a position to terrorize the people of Iraq," said Harper. "This is a great day for Iraqis, a great day for the coalition, and a great day for all those who were willing to stand-up for what was right."
There is no specific mention of his preferences for who should take jurisdiction over Saddam, but as I stated before, I don't see him urging the Iraqi people to give up their right to try him.

PM Martin did speak to Pres. Bush by telephone today but sidestepped answering reporters' questions about Saddam and the possibility of him receiving the death sentence (because for the elitist media up here, that is the really, really important question.)

Paul Martin may talk out of both sides of his mouth even neatly more coherently than Chretien, but so far all I've seen is the the same Inner Weasel.

Is the American horror at a leader who would gas and murder his own people unique? President Bush is speaking live on CNN right now and his voice still, after all these months, indicates his disbelief at a leader who would do such. If our attitude is unique, it doesn't say a lot about how other leaders feel about their own people but says a great deal about what other people think of their own leaders.

Dear Lord, please deep me unsophisticated. Please let me retain the capacity for horror, the knowledge of right and wrong, and keep me from being nuanced.

Posted by Debbye at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

Blogger reactions to Saddam's capture

Dec. 15 - I managed to get home last night in time to see Lou Dobbs on CNN reporting on Saddam's capture. Bless you, Lou, and the big grin on your face! It almost made up for hearing Amanpour's take on the capture. Thank goodness she's in London and safe from Fox's intimidation.

Jay has a series of posts and links to the capture and reactions. As Jay points out, Joe Liberman gets it. That's the truly sad part about the whole Dem presidential candidate race: Joe always got it, but sadly he's in the wrong party. Democrats beware: Joe is the only candidate that may represent the survival of the Democrats after Dean and Gore finish shredding its reputation.

Chief Wiggles is in Bagdhad and attended the news conference.

Expat Yank has some links to Iraqi bloggers here (or do Ctrl+F "Read these now").

Blackfive also has a round-up from some excellent bloggers I hadn't read before.

More links to Iraq bloggers and military personnel to Saddam's capture:

Healing Iraq has the picture of the day as well as The beast in chains and some reactions that on one level I can share. I found myself struck anew by the memory of the Iraqis who were butchered by Saddam yesterday because even as I saw the medical inspection reminding us that this monster was, after all, a mere human, he was indeed a monster.

Butcher = human = monster = human. Maybe those who live under regimes like Saddam's will take heart at being reminded that such monsters are merely mortal and, fearsome as they are, will all meet a mortal end.

Woo hoo! Jack Cafferty on CNN just quoted Zeyad and mentioned his blog! (9:30 am)

Iraqi Now links to Saddam's exchange with the Iraqi Governing Council.

By the way, Williams Safire (also in today's NY Times) suggests that the reason Hussein didn't go down fighting was because he wants the Mother of All Genocide Trials and is unlikely to betray any details of his French and German relationships.

Boots on the Ground remembers the celebrations in Baghdad after Kusay and Ousay were killed and believes the capture will strike a blow to the terrorists' morale.

Mike the Marine has his own round-up Who says ... and some Ebay items I definitely won't bid on.

Sgt. Stryker "interviews" Saddam. Heh. He also has a link-laden post on the capture and leads off with the mug shots.


Lileks gets the last word (I just knew he couldn't stay away!):

... The history texts will note that Baghdad fell on this date, Saddam was captured on that date, and the events between the two events will fill up a paragraph at best. Cruel but true. This was a big event, but there are bigger events to come.

We live in an age where we're always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And drop it does. And drop again it will.

If this war has a mascot, it's the millipede.

And that's why yesterday's euphoria is giving way to sobriety. A whoop of joy, then back to the business at hand.

Posted by Debbye at 08:26 AM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2003

We got the bastard

Dec. 14 - As though I need to say it: We got the bastard.

I have to leave for work shortly. Being sensitive to diverse attitudes in Canada, I will of course behave gravely and as though this is a serious, weighty matter in which the US must heed the advice and wisdom of its much more knowledgeable, nuanced good friends and allies NOT!

I'm going to freaking skip and dance my way through work today. If anyone suggests the world community should be involved in his trial, I'm going to laugh long and hard.

At first I was sorry he wasn't shown looking like like the guy in the middle but I guess a tongue depressor in his mouth will make for as memorable a photo!

Have a great and glorious day!

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2003

Bush to Europe: Forgive Iraq Debt

Dec. 12 - Bush sends debt-relief message to Europe:

President Bush yesterday said forgiving Iraqi debt would be "a significant contribution" to postwar reconstruction efforts and suggested that such a move by France, Germany and Russia might be enough to permit those countries' companies to compete for prime contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
Heh. Will they blink?

Posted by Debbye at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2003

Anti-terrorism rallies in Iraq

Dec. 11 - I wanted these links about yesterday's demonstrations against terrorism for my own archiving (I suspect you have already read most of these.)

The US Dept. Of Defense has an item on the rallies here and says that demonstrations were held in as many as eight cities. They link to the CPA website which has nothing on the demonstrations. Grr. Not that I mind getting most of my news about this from bloggers . . .

Round-up in Instapundit here and here.

Healing Iraq reports here with a growing number of links to pictures.

Iraq Now has a report on both the anti-terrorism demonstration and a counter-demonstration in Ar Ramadi.

UPDATE: Kevin at Boots on the Ground is also bitter about press silence and calls it a Grave injustice for Iraqis.

One Hand Clapping has screen captures from Fox and links to a first-person report from Rocky Mountain News. (The reporter went to the rally shortly after arriving in Iraq. That's my kind of reporter.)

Command Post links to what may be the best headline/summation of the entire affair: Iraqis stage large anti-terrorism protests in Baghdad - while mainstream media "journalists" order another gin & tonic.

The Western media have been strangely silent on the demonstration, and were actually outdone by al Jazeera.

Roger L. Simon has a possible explanation for the silence from the media, and American Digest confirms the diagnosis and provides the underlying philosophy of this omission. UPDATE: Wretchard at Belmont Club adds a dash of self-righteousness and lyrics from the song "Woodstock" (see! CanCon!) and we have a good picture of the media.

What to do? Winds of Change has a suggestion for confronting the press about their silence.

Posted by Debbye at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

Bloggers weigh in on reconstruction contracts

Dec. 11 - I'm bringing links to some comments on the decision about awarding contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq up because it has proven to be a far bigger issue than circumstances warrant given that it is not a surprise that countries that actively supported Saddam have been left out.

Can we say collaborators of a fascist dictator? I think so.

Steven den Beste has two posts here and here. He suggests in the first post that France (gasp!) might actually start withholding their advice and criticism if we don't let them in!

Canadian bloggers weighed in heavily yesterday and today:
Smug Canadian
ESR Musings (link fixed)
Jay Currie (scroll down to "Shocked")
Spin Killer
Paul weighed in before the storm erupted but was called away due to a death in the family.
Discount Blogger weighed in here, here and here
There's a different point of view and lively discussion over at Daimnation!
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says I told you so (he is entitled)
Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington ties in awarding favours and contracts with Chretien appointments.
Jack ties in the contract awards to ongoing and deliberate stoking of anti-Americanism at the Toronto Star.
Smug Canadian rebuts a letter he received and feels Canada must face up to the fact that they failed to take a stand against fascism. (CORRECTION: It was a response to another post. Sorry for the error.)
David Janes gets several with one blow.
Right On! does excellent sarcasm.
Dissident Frogman makes it short and sweet.
Mike reminds Wolfowitz what Churchill said, and Trudeaupia has some thoughts about The price of posturing.

UPDATE: As indicated in the comments, PM-for-one-last-day Chretien says he was personally assured by Pres. Bush that Canada would not be excluded (Globe and Mail link here and a Toronto Star link in comments.) There are reports at CNN and Fox which have the President defending the decision and thus contradicting the Globe story but do have him call for forgiveness of the Iraqi debt burden.

I'm wondering if a high-stakes poker game is on. It's not inconceivable that, should the old debts be forgiven, the President would revisit the policy. Forgiving the debts would definitely be in the best interests of the Iraqi people, and I'd be willing to swallow my pride plenty fast for Iraq to be out from under that debt load.

UPDATE: Peaktalk is also thinking that Iraqi debt relief could be tied to reconstruction contracts.

But I'm also reminded of the many stories that would preceed presidential speeches in which they stated Pres. Bush was going to beg the world to help out in Iraq and then, when the speech was given, he said nothing of the sort.

Note: Blogger started going weird on me so I published the original post before I could state that I'd only read my usual blogs and not the many that doubtless take a different approach not only to the contracts but generally everything. I don't read the lefty blogs that often. As a former lefty, I am extremely irritated to read the exact same stuff and phrases today as I read (and even wrote) 35 years ago. I'd have figured Pol Pot and the fall of the Soviet Union and the revelations that came out afterwards would require some re-evaluation, but these folks are now defending the worker's paradise in North Korea. Even when I was a lefty, I didn't go that far.

Anyone else old enough to remember the split in the left when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia? Sometimes we have to pay attention to things that contradict our world views.

By the way, the use of the word pretentious in the title was a shot at Chirac and Shroeder and no more. (It's hard to take shots at Martin when I still don't know what his position of various isssues are.)

MORE CANADIANS WEIGH IN: Gnotalex from the Blog Quebecois points out there are two ways to interpret what was said between Chretien and Bush in the now famous phone call.
Peaktalk points out that the Dutch are on the list even though their assistance was minimal, and thinks the list is shortsighted.

Posted by Debbye at 01:03 PM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2003

Proposed Tribunal in Iraq

Dec. 10 - Jason of IRAQ NOW ...... A Soldier Looks Right Back at the Media has a very straight-to-the-point post about the proposed tribunal for Iraq From the Damned if you Do, Damned if you Don't Dept. He looks at some possible repercussions of a denial of justice that I haven't seen elsewhere. (Ctrl+F Iraqi-led tribunal)

Very good post.

UPDATE: This story about a recent clash between Sunnis and Shi'ites bear out his analysis.

Posted by Debbye at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

Reconstruction contracts

Dec. 10 - CNN is pulling out the high drama: Iraq contracts list stuns world. Somehow, I think the British, Australians, Poles, Italians, Spanish, Danes, Dutch, Japanese, Turks and others are hardly "stunned." And yes, they too are part of the world.

BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A decision by the U.S. to bar some of its major trading partners from bidding for Iraqi reconstruction contracts has been greeted around the world with amazement.

Countries that did not back the U.S.-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein will not be eligible to compete for $18.6 billion worth of contracts, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.

Given the weapons sales that preceeded the war, the back-stabbing efforts to thwart the war, and the smug pleasure at every death of a coalition member . . . are we really talking about allies and friends?

Do I really have to bring up the despicable oil-for-palaces program to justify why these countries aren't entitled to be trusted with US tax dollars? Furthermore, since the last thing the opposing countries want is a free Iraq, why would we allow them a foothold in that country?

In Canada, the man who will be PM in 2 days, Paul Martin, slammed the contracts ban. He plans to take the matter up with the US Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci.

Martin says that the decision should be made on the basis of what is good for the people of Iraq.

Given the bureaucratic way the countries on the banned list, including Canada, run their own governments and handicap businesses with their regulations and paperwork, I think the decision to exclude them was good for the people of Iraq. Besides, at the first terrorist attack, they might cut and run. Why give contracts to those when we are concerned they might not live up to that committment.

Martin said Canada has committed nearly $300 million for reconstruction in Iraq and that Canadian troops in Afghanistan "are carrying a very, very heavy load" in the war on terrorism.
Paul Martin's point that "Canadian troops are carrying a very heavy, heavy load" in its contribution to the war on terror is somewhat perplexing: does he now connect the otherthrow of Saddam to the war on terror? Or is he implying that their involvement in the war on terror isn't really being waged to protect Canada's interests and citizens, but they're going along with it anyway to appease the USA?

Either way, Martin has already indicated he lacks some thinking apparatus. Trying to tell the US that we owe Canada is not going to win respect.

Many, many people tried to tell Chretien and Canadians that terrorism and Saddam were linked last March, but he chose France and TotalFinaElf. Paul Martin did not oppose Chretien's stance nor his last-minute attempts to ambush the US efforts in the UN.

One last quote from the CNN "shocked and stunned" article:

France -- along with the European Commission -- said it was studying the legality of the decision.

"We're studying the compatibility of these decisions with the international laws of competition, together with our concerned partners, especially the European Union and the European Commission," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

By all means do so. I find it enlightening that they aren't going involve the UN. I guess that's as close as they'll get to admitting that the UN is all talk and no action.

I wonder what th