Good News! You Can Stop Reading This Blog!
The "Truth Tour" has been pulled together by the conservative Web cast radio group Rightalk.com and Move America Forward, a non-profit conservative group backed by a Republican-linked public relations firm in
"The reason why we are doing it is we are sick and tired of seeing and hearing headlines by the mainstream media about our defeat in Iraq," Melanie Morgan, a talk radio host for KSFO Radio in San Francisco and co-chair of Move America Forward, said.
According to retired Col. Buzz Patterson, host of "The Buzz Cut" on Rightalk, the delegation of seven to 10 conservatives will also include two writers from the Web site FrontPage Magazine, which is published by David Horowitz and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.
"The war is being won, if not already won, I think," Patterson, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, said. "[
Meanwhile, back in the world where the rest of us live:
War News for Monday, July 04 and Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi civilian wounded in roadside bomb attack on a convoy of Western security guards outside the Iranian embassy in Baghdad. “Several casualties” were transported to a hospital after a roadside bomb attack on a
Bring ‘em on:
Bring ‘em on: Four US Marines wounded in two suicide car bombings in Hit. Four women killed and three men wounded when gunmen ambushed a minibus carrying
Bring ‘em on: Gunmen attempted to kidnap the Pakistani Ambassador to
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed and two wounded when their vehicle struck an explosive device near
Bring ‘em on: Leader of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution shot dead in Baghdad drive-by shooting. US and Iraqi joint patrol targeted by a roadside bomb in the Al Amal neighborhood of Baghdad, two fatalities and one wounded reported, no word on nationality or military status of casualties.
Bring ‘em on: Japanese military base under mortar attack in Samawa, no casualties. Four mortar rounds landed on a
Must be reading too much mainstream media: "Two of my soldiers have been killed in six weeks," says Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Williams, 43, the senior British commander at Abu Naji, which is home to around 1,000 soldiers. "To you Americans, that's nothing. But in the previous six months, not one British soldier was killed here. The security situation is worse than it was two, three months ago."
Williams's assessment comes at a time when the Iraqi insurgency seems to be gaining in strength and reach.
On May 30, Vice President Dick Cheney said that the war in
And it has Williams reconsidering the coalition presence here.
On June 2, still reeling from Brackenbury's death, Williams tells two visiting reporters that much of the violence in the province targets foreign soldiers. He openly speculates that in Maysan, the coalition ("multinational forces," or MNF, in militaryspeak) perhaps causes more violence than it prevents.
Some progress: Fifteen Iraqi Sunni-Muslim members are preparing to join a Shi'ite-dominated parliamentary committee drafting a new constitution. It is hoped that including more Sunnis in the political process will ease the insurgency that is believed to draw much of its support from disaffected members of that minority community.
A spokesman for the umbrella Sunni-Muslim organization, National Dialogue Council, expressed relief the 15 Sunni names submitted to parliament were approved, following a lengthy delay.
In mid-June, a Sunni leader in government turned in a list of 15 candidates to join two other Sunnis on the 55-member constitution committee. But the approval process bogged down after majority Shi'ites and Kurds accused some of the men on the list of having been senior members of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated Baath Party. The accused men denied the charge.
Now they just have to write it: Breaking an impasse that had threatened to delay the drafting of a new constitution, a mostly Shiite and Kurdish constitutional committee met with and formally accepted today 15 Sunni Arab politicians who had been lobbying to join the committee.
The progress on the political front came as insurgents stepped up their campaign to drive Muslim diplomats from the country. Gunmen opened fire in the morning on a car carrying the top diplomat from
The assaults came two days after the top Egyptian diplomat here was kidnapped while driving alone in western
Assem Jihad told Dow Jones Newswires that there had been 300 acts of sabotage against Iraqi oil installations between June 2003 when
Jihad said most of the sabotage took place in the northern oil installations preventing the country from exporting around 400,000 barrels a day from its northern oil fields to the Turkish
Daily Life in
Barbershop terror: Such is the terror in
"I put this sign up after one of my friends in the same street was threatened. I've decided to quit shaving beards or removing facial hair to save my life, as well as those of my customers. I only cut hair, said Muhannad Ali Sahib, who owns a barbershop in the western
Other barbers have turned their homes into underground barbershops.
According to an interior ministry official, at least 20 barbers have been assassinated in areas like Shaab, Bayaa, Saidiyah and
Quiet killings: The night before he was shot to death outside a mosque last month, Qasim Azawi talked with his wife about leaving the neighborhood. Two fellow Sunni worshipers had been killed in previous weeks, and he was afraid.
Less than 10 hours later, he was dead, the ninth Sunni to be killed since March in
In the shifting landscape of the new
It is a quiet kind of killing, beneath the radar of car bombs and other headline-grabbing violence. But block by block, battle lines are being drawn, with religious Sunnis and Shiites lining up on opposite sides.
Women’s rights: According to local police, dozens of women have had parts of their bodies burned by religious conservatives in a string of incidents throughout the capital in recent weeks. Maj Abbas Dilemi, a senior police investigator in
"Our sources have found that many children are being used to conduct such violence. The one adult we have arrested for this crime cannot accept Iraqi women wearing Western clothes and walking without veils, alleging that it's a prohibition by God," Dilemi said.
During Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraqi women were more or less free to wear what they wanted. In the 1980s
The current attacks and intimidation are not confined to the capital. In the western
Shooting Civilians Does Not Win Their Hearts Or Minds
Criticism: Laith Kubba, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, yesterday criticized American troops for shooting and killing unarmed Iraqi civilians, citing the recent deaths of Yasser Salihee, a reporter for Knight Ridder, and Muhammad al-Sumaidaie, a cousin of
The American military has said it is investigating both incidents. Knight Ridder has said that its reporter was likely shot by an American sniper.
Kubba also said Sunday, at a
Also on Sunday, the mother of Muhammad al-Sumaidaie gave an eyewitness account of how, she said, American Marines had entered her home on June 25 and killed her son.
Immune from arrest: The Iraqi government said it was worried about the rise in incidents of civilian deaths by
"The prime minister will take up this matter at the highest level," spokesman Leith Kubba told reporters, citing the case of Yasser al-Salihy, an employee of
Salihy, 30, was killed June 24 near his home in Baghdad's western Ameriyah district by purported US sniper fire, one of his colleagues said, adding that the US military has promised to investigate the incident.
Under a controversial order passed by the previous US-led occupation authority, all foreign soldiers, diplomats or contractors implicated in the killing of Iraqi civilians are immune from arrest or trial in
First the Italians, now the Swiss:
"A citizen with Swiss-Iraqi double nationality died during an incident (in
The name of the dead man was not released.
His brother, who was travelling with him, told Swiss authorities their car had been stopped by US soldiers and that the victim died from a gunshot, Mr Sieber said.
"Force protection": Hannah Allam's moving obituary for Yasser Salihee, one of Knight Ridder's Iraqi correspondents in
These brave people were not murdered or targeted, or else slaughtered indiscriminately, as would be the case if they had been victims of the al-Qaida-Baath alliance. But it would not be entirely correct to say that their deaths were quite accidental, either. They were victims of a policy of "force protection" that mandates Americans to treat any questionable action or movement with "zero tolerance." It's a moral certainty that many more Iraqi citizens die this way than are ever reported.
I have been very reliably assured that the British commander, Gen. Michael Jackson, has privately told his American counterparts that if they go on in this manner they will risk losing
Interesting News But I’d Wait On The Party
Syrians vs Iraqi insurgents: Syrian security forces clashed early Monday in the hills overlooking
Some of the militants were believed to have been former bodyguards for Saddam Hussein, the report said, but it gave no further details and did not say how it was known who they were or where they might have escaped to afterward.
The predawn firefight on scenic
On Sunday, border guards and security agents fought with a group along the Lebanese-Syrian border, leaving one of the suspected militants and two guards dead. More than 34 militants were later arrested in what appeared to be a sweep of the area, the news agency reported.
Foreign fighters vs. Iraqi insurgents: American troops on the Syrian border are enjoying a battle they have long waited to see - a clash between foreign al-Qa'eda fighters and Iraqi insurgents.
Tribal leaders in Husaybah are attacking followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist who established the town as an entry point for al-Qa'eda jihadists being smuggled into the country.
The reason, the
The Negroponte Option
Deeply concerned: The British government said it was "deeply concerned" by reports published of abuse of detainees being held in Iraqi police cells.
The Observer newspaper said it had photographic evidence, from post-mortem and hospital examinations, of torture of alleged terror suspects by Iraqi security units.
Allegations of abuse covered burning, strangulation, sexual abuse, hanging by the arms, the breaking of limbs and -- in one case -- the use of an electric drill for a knee-capping.
The newspaper alleged that British aid intended for the Iraqi Police Service had been diverted to commando units accused of human rights abuses, including torture and extra-judicial killings.
It also reported claims that a network of secret detention centers has been set up, which have remained inaccessible to human rights organisations.
But it’s all Saddam’s fault. Or
Responding to reports alleging the widespread use of irregular arrests and of violence against prisoners by Iraqi police and other security units, a government spokesman blamed it in part on the brutalizing of Iraqi society under Saddam and said ministers were addressing the problem.
"These things happen. We know that," Laith Kubba said in a news briefing after a report in
Six months ago, New York-based Human Rights Watch documented what it called "routine and commonplace" abuse by Iraqi forces.
This Should Turn Things Around
Good news and smiling pictures: As President Bush concluded his address to the nation Tuesday evening, after imploring Americans yet again for their patience and resolve in the war in
A patriotic Web site.
''You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community,'' Bush said, after promoting the Web site. ''At this time when we celebrate our freedom, let us stand with the men and women who defend us all.''
Before he was sworn into office, the president swore off e-mail out of a concern for his privacy. And aides have said Bush isn't known to frequent many Internet sites. (Hey, he can come to this one any time. I’m sure we’ll all give him exactly the amount of respect he deserves.)
The Defense Department first launched the site Nov. 19, hoping to create an electronic wave of support for those fighting in
Still, the Web site features a red, white and blue mix of gadgetry that allows someone to send an en masse e-mail to the troops. Or an ''America Supports You'' logo can be ordered to be affixed on a baseball hat, a water bottle or a T-shirt.
The technology resembles the Bush campaign's Internet site from last year's presidential race. Like the Bush 2004 Web site, the pages are chock-full of good news and smiling pictures. And dissenting views on the war are not allowed.
Gee, if only the Truth Squad had known about this they could have saved themselves a trip…
US Political and Military News
Specific benchmarks: President Bush is facing an early legal deadline to deliver what he has been most resistant to providing: a set of specific benchmarks for measuring progress toward military and political stability in
Under a little-noticed provision of the defense spending bill passed by Congress in May, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld has until July 11 to send Capitol Hill a "comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures of stability and security" two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
A Pentagon spokeswoman, responding to my inquiry, said last week, "We are working toward completing the report by the due date."
If and when it comes in, it could do much more than the president's Tuesday night speech at
Changing assumptions: The Pentagon's most senior planners are challenging the longstanding strategy that requires the armed forces to be prepared to fight two major wars at a time. Instead, they are weighing whether to shape the military to mount one conventional campaign while devoting more resources to defending American territory and antiterrorism efforts.
The consideration of these profound changes are at the center of the current top-to-bottom review of Pentagon strategy, as ordered by Congress every four years, and will determine the future size of the military as well as the fate of hundreds of billions of dollars in new weapons.
The intense debate reflects a growing recognition that the current burden of maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the other demands of the global campaign against terrorism, may force a change in the assumptions that have been the foundation of all military planning.
Recruitment woes: Maybe figuring that it is mostly worried moms keeping their kids home, the army, after its fourth straight month of recruitment shortfalls, has begun broadcasting a new series of TV ads. They feature young people telling their folks about the education benefits—up to $70,000 for college or $65,000 to repay student loans—and the chance to serve a worthy cause.
Kathy Allwein of
"That recruiter sat in our living room and promised the whole family that these loans would be taken care of in full," Kathy says, her voice steely. "In his contract it was stated that they would take care of them." In
Hey, if they can nail this demographic and the College Republicans…:On most weekends during the Nextel Cup season, as Nascar's premier racing series travels from city to city, a marketing company hired by the United States Army follows, setting up shop outside the racetrack with a free interactive display that attracts thousands of fans.
The displays at Nascar events are generating as many as 1,000 to 2,000 leads for potential new recruits on each racing weekend, said Guy Morgan of Keystone Marketing Company, which operates the display. That amounts to nearly 40,000 leads a year, Nickerson said.
"If all of our programs were doing as well as our racing program was, we wouldn't have a recruiting problem," Lt. Col. Mike Jones, the National Guard deputy division chief for recruiting and retention, said during a telephone interview. "Obviously, you have to do more than one type of outreach program to be successful in any business. Nascar alone will not fix our total recruiting needs. What Nascar does, it hits that segment of the population that is very pro-military service."
Many Nascar fans drape themselves in the flag, and the sport boasts a long, close relationship with the military. High-ranking officers frequently attend races and are taken behind the scenes, receiving applause when introduced to the drivers at the prerace meetings. Before almost every race, there is a military fly-over during the national anthem.
Suck it up, old soldiers: As the violence in
So, as Correspondent Scott Pelley first reported last fall, it's been drawing from a pool of semi-retired soldiers called the Individual Ready Reserve, and it's a sign that it needs able (and not so able) bodies to fill the gap.
Many of the men and women being mobilized in the Ready Reserve (9,000 so far) are not very happy about it. In fact, of those who were supposed to report to duty in April, nine out of 10 of them either applied for an exemption, or didn't respond at all.
But if old soldiers never die, as the saying goes, the Army isn't letting them fade away.
Whoa – an honest Republican?: U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, said the Bush administration must adjust its policies in
``People need to have some kind of measurement standard in
Q: You're one of a growing number of Republicans who have lately accused President Bush of botching the war in
A: If someone says I am a disloyal Republican because I am not supporting my party, let them say it. War is bigger than politics.
Q: You, John McCain and John Kerry are the only current
A: I got to
Q: How would you compare the situation in
A: Congress was absent during the Vietnam War, and they didn't ask the tough questions, and consequently we lost 58,000 Americans and lost a war and humiliated this nation. It took a generation to get over it. As long as I am here as a U.S. senator, I am going to do whatever I can to make sure that isn't going to happen.
Q: What do you suggest that the president do?
A: For starters, we don't have enough troops. But I don't think the answer to increasing manpower is to pursue some of the things the Pentagon is doing, such as doubling and tripling bonuses for those in the military. Kids do not serve their country because they are in it to make money.
Comment: The occupation's sectarian discourse has acquired a hold as powerful as the WMD fiction that prepared the public for war. Iraqis are portrayed as a people who can't wait to kill each other once left to their own devices. In fact, the occupation is the main architect of institutionalised sectarian and ethnic divisions; its removal would act as a catalyst for Iraqis to resolve some of their differences politically. Only a few days ago the national assembly members who had signed the anti-occupation statement met representatives of the Foundation Congress (a group of 60 religious and secular organisations) and the al-Sadr movement and issued a joint call for the rapid withdrawal of the occupation forces according to an internationally guaranteed timetable.
There is now broad agreement in
Every day the occupation increases tension and makes people's lives worse, fuelling the violence. Creating a client regime in
How many more Iraqis, Americans and Britons have to die before Bush and Blair admit the occupation is the problem and not part of any democratic solution in Iraq?
Special report: Driving a government van and wearing green trousers, khaki shirt and tie, garrison cap and black patent leather shoes buffed until you could see your face in them, Maj Woodcock rang the doorbell of No 74, a pale green wood-clad house with a pretty little garden, and changed the lives of Holly Charette's parents for ever.
Earlier that day their daughter, Lance Corporal Charette, 21, had been sitting in the back of a 7-tonne truck with other marines on their way back from a checkpoint outside Fallujah. They had been searching Iraqi women on a road into the city and it was the end of another long, hot day in
Maj Woodcock's face creased as he recalled breaking the news. "They took it pretty hard. It's the worst possible news you can give to any parent."
Opinion: Time was, when a president of either party had something to say to the public, he would do it from the Oval Office or a homier part of the White House. FDR's fireside chats set the standard for the latter approach. But these were men who didn't need props or amen corners; men who could rely on their command of the language and facts to get the message across.
For those very reasons, the major networks were reluctant to cover Tuesday's speech live, especially in light of the fact that the jump soldiers chosen to make up the audience were hand-picked by their commanders. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what the selection criteria were.
But it's well they did cover it, because it showed the country that this administration has nothing new to offer in terms of prosecuting a war that should never have been started. It was the same old cliche-ridden, Bushian boilerplate, and the soldiers sat through it in silence, except for a sudden outburst of applause when Bush vowed to "stay in the fight until the fight is won."
And guess what? Even that was contrived. As the major networks reported, and The New York Times predictably did not report, that applause was cued by a White House official on stage.
Some things never change. And this administration's addiction to dishonesty is one of them.
Opinion: The Army can't find enough recruits. Could there be a clearer expression of Americans' disenchantment with the war in
This is democracy where it matters. No one should doubt that young Americans would willingly go to war if they believed in it. But this is a war of choice that began with fabrications and has been marked by blunders at the highest level -- blunders that have resulted in many lives lost. Over two years, the aims of this war have shifted like dunes in the desert. President Bush, moreover, has told Americans they need not make any sacrifices; to the contrary, he has pursued tax cuts. This is not inspiring. This is deceptive and dishonorable. Yet the Army expects young idealists to sign up anyway, for hazardous duty in a treacherous country, where the violence shows no signs of letting up and the generals show no signs of knowing what to do about it.
It's no surprise that the idealists are staying away. Certainly, the sons and daughters of the unimpeachably idealistic neoconservatives who prayed for the war and brayed for what they stupidly supposed was victory back in 2003 are staying as far away from it as they possibly can.
Editorials: The Seattle Times on Sunday launched an unusual project, a series of editorials on
"Nothing about this is easy," it explained. "Americans too often are asked to support our government through support of our military men and women. In these editorials, we attempt to separate the vivid emotions of war from policy and ask where the policy is taking us."
Meanwhile, a newspaper far to the south with a less liberal reputation, the
In the first installment of its editorial series on Sunday, the Seattle Times declared flatly, "The time has come to begin planning an exit from
"Our original war aim, the toppling of Saddam Hussein, has been achieved. It is now apparent that we are not even close to achieving the add-on mission of creating a democratic, law-abiding Iraqi state in which Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds share power.
"Why are we there? The average American cannot clearly explain it. That may be the most telling comment of all.”