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History > 2005 > USA > Wars






The Independent

20 November 2005

















Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

attends a medal ceremony

for soldiers in the 173rd Airborne at an air base

in Khandahar, Afghanistan December 22, 2005.


Photograph: REUTERS/Jim Young


Rumsfeld eyes US pullback in Iraq


















Rumsfeld eyes US pullback in Iraq


Fri Dec 23, 2005 11:22 AM ET
By Lesley Wroughton


FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday the number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq would be cut by some 7,000 by early next year, but the number involved in training Iraq's new military would increase.

Rumsfeld, the second senior U.S. official to visit Iraq this week in the wake of last week's election, said progress in Iraq's politics, economics and security lay behind the decision to scale back the combat troops.

"President (George W.) Bush has authorized an adjustment in U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 17 to 15," Rumsfeld said, addressing several hundred U.S. troops at a military camp east of Falluja.

"This will include increases in the number of U.S. forces involved in transition teams, intelligence support, and logistics, to assist the Iraqi security forces in continuing to assume greater responsibility for the security of their country."

"The adjustment being announced today is a recognition of the Iraqi people's progress in assuming added responsibility for their country," Rumsfeld said, adding that the U.S. and Iraqi governments would continue to evaluate the troop situation in the coming months.

Some troops from the two brigades affected would be transferred from combat to training Iraqis, he said.

The Pentagon said in a statement: "The effect of these adjustments will likely reduce the forces in Iraq by the Spring of 2006 below the 138,000 baseline," the current normal level of U.S. troop strength in Iraq.

"Elements of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will deploy to conduct missions such as providing security forces and conducting transition training for Iraqi Security Forces," it added.

"The 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division has already deployed to Kuwait and will remain there available as a call-forward force for the commander, U.S. Central Command to support operations in Iraq." It said troop numbers might further fluctuate according to need.

U.S. Democrats have been pressing the Bush administration to lay out plans for a withdrawal.



"We anticipate future coalition force-level discussions at some point in 2006, after the new Iraqi government is in place and is prepared to discuss the future," Rumsfeld said.

He cautioned that Iraq still faced enormous security challenges.

"Violence in Iraq, unfortunately, will likely continue to fluctuate as terrorists and others try to block Iraq's path to democracy -- the path now clearly chosen by the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people," Rumsfeld said.

"Ultimately it will be the continued wise choices by the Iraqi people that will end the violence over time."

Taking questions from troops, Rumsfeld said the United States had no plans to set up a permanent base in Iraq, explaining that the subject had not been raised with Iraqi officials.

"Until now there has been no one to talk to," he said.

After leaving Falluja by helicopter, Rumsfeld boarded a cargo plane for Amman to see the training of Iraqi forces at a Jordanian special operations center.

"As you know, the United States and coalition countries are anxious to turn over security responsibilities to you as soon as we are able to do so," he told an audience of Iraqis there.

He later returned to Baghdad for a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Rumsfeld's trip follows an eight-hour visit to Iraq on Sunday by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, a chief architect of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which toppled former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Rumsfeld eyes US pullback in Iraq, R, 23.12.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=fundLaunches&storyID=2005-12-23T162129Z_01_ROB319938_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-RUMSFELD-TROOPS.xml


















Hard Look at Mission That Ended in Inferno for 3 Women

NYT        20 December 2005



















In Oceanside, Calif., last month,

Cpl. Sally J. Saalman and Sgt. Carozio V. Bass

look at a photo taken by Sergeant Bass

after an attack in Falluja, Iraq, in June.


Photograph: Sandy Huffaker

for The New York Times


Hard Look at Mission That Ended in Inferno for 3 Women

NYT        20.12.2005
















Fatally Exposed

Hard Look at Mission

That Ended in Inferno for 3 Women


December 20, 2005
The New York Times


The 120-degree June heat and rising tension in Falluja had already frayed the nerves of the Marine women when the cargo truck they were riding in pulled onto the main road and turned toward camp. It was only a 15-minute trip. But the blast took mere seconds to incinerate lives.

The suicide bomber had waited for his victims alongside the road, and then rammed his car into the truck with deadly precision. The ambush ignited an inferno - scorching flesh, scattering bodies and mixing smoke, blood and dirt.

Several of the women lost the skin on their hands. One's goggles fused to her cheeks. After rolling 50 yards on fire, the truck flipped and spilled the women onto the road, where enemy snipers opened fire. With their own ammunition bursting in the heat, the women crawled and pulled one another from the burning wreckage.

They were parched and dazed, and as one marine pleaded for water, another asked over and over, "How do I look?"

"It was like somebody had ripped her face off," said Cpl. Sally J. Saalman, the leader of the group, who was waving her own hands to cool them. "I told her, 'It'll be all right, babe.' "

But it wasn't. Three women died: a 20-year-old who had enlisted to support her mother, a 21-year-old former cheerleader and a 43-year-old single mother on her second tour in Iraq.

Three male marines, including two who provided security for the cargo truck, were also killed. Corporal Saalman and six other women were flown to a burn center in Texas, where even morphine, she said, could not kill the pain of having their charred skin scrubbed off.

The ambush in Falluja made June 23 one of the worst days in the history of women in the American military. Yet it faded into the running narrative of Iraq, tallied up as another tragic but unavoidable consequence of war.

At the White House the next day, President Bush spoke generally of the insurgents' resolve: "It's hard to stop suicide bombers." Answering questions over the next week about the attack, the Defense Department issued assurances that the women had been adequately protected.

But an examination of the attack, pieced together through interviews in Falluja and the United States, military documents and photographs taken by marines at the time, shows the opposite. The military sent the women off that day with substandard armor, inadequate security and faulty tactics, and the predictability of their daily commute through one of the most volatile parts of Iraq made them an open target.

The problems mounted in a lethal chain.

The cargo truck the women rode in was a relic, never intended for warfare with insurgents, and had mere improvised metal shielding that only rose to their shoulders. The flames from the blast simply shot over the top.

Their convoy was protected by just two Humvees with mounted machine guns. A third was supposed to be there but had been diverted that day by a security team that strained to juggle competing demands. But the Falluja area was so dangerous that the local Marine commander typically had four Humvees when he ventured out.

Perhaps most significantly, the security team let the suicide bomber pull to the side of the road as the convoy passed, rather than ordering him to move ahead to keep him away from the women. Marines involved in the operation called the tactic, commonly used, a serious error.

"The females should never have been transported like that," said Sgt. Carozio V. Bass, one of the marines who escorted the convoy. "We didn't have enough people or proper vehicles."

If anything, the women needed more protection because of their work in Falluja and the tension it was igniting, some marines said. They had been searching Iraqi women for weapons and other contraband and felt certain the task was infuriating insurgents. Even so, the military had the women follow a predictable routine: traveling to and from their camp each day at roughly the same time and on the same route through the city.

Some marines questioned whether they should have been traveling at all. Male marines also worked at the checkpoints, but did not have to face the dangers of the daily commute. They slept at a Marine outpost in downtown Falluja, but Marine Corps rules barred the women from sharing that space with the men.

In the weeks that followed, the wounded women said, they were told not to speak with reporters. Two sergeants said they were asked to chronicle the attack in written statements, but the Marine Corps said it decided against investigating the episode.

Marine officials defended the security measures that had been taken in transporting the women and armoring the vehicles. They said that suicide bombings were still infrequent in Falluja at that time.

"That convoy was as protected as many of the convoys that were run before," said Col. Charles M. Gurganus, who commanded Marine operations in Falluja at the time. "There is absolutely no way that you can prepare for every eventuality."

The day after the attack, however, the Marines in Falluja increased to five the number of Humvees in the convoy transporting a new crew of women, added more weapons for protection and stopped letting cars wait on the side of the road for the convoy to pass. Eventually, they switched to armored Humvees instead of cargo trucks.

The marines killed and wounded that day were part of the heavy toll that the Marine Corps has borne since it returned to Iraq in early 2004 to replace exhausted Army units.

Marine officials point out that they have inherited some of the most violent turf in Iraq. But some marines said that their trucks, training and personnel were more suitable for their traditional mission of establishing beachheads than for combating a sustained insurgency. Since returning to Iraq, the Marines have had one-sixth of the military personnel in the war, but have accounted for one-third of the deaths, Pentagon records show.

And the deadly encounters, like the one in Falluja, take a toll far beyond the numbers.

"I think about it every day, 24 hours a day," said Lance Cpl. Erin Liberty, whose seatmate on the truck that day in June was so badly burned that her body was identifiable only by dog tags. "You're never happy, you're never sad, you're never mad. You're just pretty much numb to everything."

A Sense of Dread

For four months this year, about 20 women called Camp Falluja home. They made up a sort of platoon, called the Female Search Force, working out of the Marine camp, an asphalt and gravel base that lies a few miles outside Falluja.

The Marines prohibit women from participating in direct ground combat. So some of the women had performed duties in the mailroom, others in the radio shack. In February, though, the military formed the group to help search Iraqi women at the city's checkpoints.

But if screening Iraqis did not constitute a combat job, the daily commute between camp and city would amount to one.

Each day at 5 a.m., the marines rose from their canvas cots and were taken by truck to downtown Falluja. They often did not return until 11 p.m. On good days, the women joshed with the Iraqis, their huge goggles bringing either squeals or tears from children. But many older Iraqi women objected to being searched.

"One lady came through and had a bunch of ID's on her," Cpl. Christina J. Humphrey, of Chico, Calif., said in a phone interview from a base in Okinawa, Japan. "I said I have to confiscate them and she grabbed my flak jacket."

By June, the checkpoints were sweltering and, the women said, a sense of dread was setting in.

Eighteen members of the military had been killed in the Falluja area and nearby Ramadi that month. Marine and Iraqi forces were encountering explosives nearly every day. In the week before the women were attacked, an Iraqi general survived a suicide car bombing in Falluja.

Cpl. Ramona M. Valdez, 20, who worked at the Statue of Liberty before joining the Marines in early 2002 to support her mother in the Bronx, regularly asked to be relieved from the checkpoint duty. The job even spooked Petty Officer First Class Regina R. Clark, a 43-year-old Navy Seabee from Centralia, Wash., who was in Iraq for the second time. She had taken her previous tour in such stride that she had even shipped a stray dog back home.

This time was different. "She had bad feelings all around," said Kelly Pennington, a friend in Washington. "Her whole attitude went from getting the dog home to getting herself home safe."

Making sure the women's commute was safe was the responsibility of the men who provided convoy security. "That was their job," said Corporal Saalman, the group's leader, of Branchville, Ind.

Two weeks before the attack, the mood changed for the worse. The Iraqi women became withdrawn, and the marines began to suspect trouble.

"It was like a cold feeling," Corporal Saalman said. "Everything was slow moving."

Shorthanded Forces

The skies in Falluja on June 23 were beginning to clear from a sandstorm when Sergeant Bass, the convoy member, prepared to help take the women back to camp.

His unit provided security for the short trip, dubbed the Milk Run, but members had mixed feelings when they got the job a few weeks earlier. The marines were already escorting five or more convoys of supplies and military personnel in and around Falluja each day and Sergeant Bass and other team members said they struggled to provide each convoy with full protection.

The problem was particularly acute when it came to Humvees.

Sgt. James P. Sherlock, whose Humvee would have been in the convoy that day behind the women's truck, said he had been pulled off to patrol a nearby highway that was seen as more of a threat.

"It was a manpower issue," Sergeant Bass said.

He said his section of the security unit had roughly 10 Humvees at its disposal. But each vehicle required three to five marines, and by June their numbers had dropped to about 30, which stretched them thin.

Sergeant Bass said no one raised any objection to using just two Humvees that day because, while all of Falluja was dangerous, there had been no recent attacks on that stretch of road. Moreover, he said, the Marines were trying to lower their profile.

"We were trying to give the people some normalcy," he said. "We didn't want to appear to them as being bullies."

Colonel Gurganus, the former commander in Falluja, said that while he usually had an escort of four Humvees, that number rose to as many as eight when other officers or dignitaries joined him.

There were no hard and fast rules on how many Humvees to use, nor were there any on how to position the women in the convoy. Often, the women would mix with the men in a second cargo truck, which Sergeant Bass said he preferred because it made them a less enticing target.

The Marine compound in downtown Falluja, where the convoy was staged, is easily observable from nearby buildings, and Sergeant Bass said he was convinced that the insurgents did their homework.

"They planned this maybe for months," he said. "Scoped our convoy out and saw typically where do the females sit. Maybe they had someone watching and they called on the cellphone."

That evening, however, Corporal Saalman said she was focused on a routine but necessary chore: calling the roll. So she had all the women climb onto the bed of one truck.


'Flames Everywhere'

Falluja should have been bustling on a Thursday evening in summertime. But the streets had been deserted for much of the day, which the American military had learned could be a signal that residents had been tipped off to an impending attack.

"I even told my buddy, 'Something bad is going to happen today,' " Corporal Saalman said.

At 7:20 p.m., there was only one car on the road when the women's convoy left. The marines in the lead Humvee waved the driver of a car to the side of the road and later said that his demeanor had raised no alarms.

The driver waited, they said, for the lead Humvee to pass and then hit the women's cargo truck, striking just behind the cab on the passenger's side.

The blast instantly killed the truck's assistant driver, Cpl. Chad W. Powell, an outdoorsman and third-generation marine from West Monroe, La., and Pfc. Veashna Muy, 20, of Los Angeles, who was in charge of operating a gun atop the cargo truck.

In the back, two of the women, Petty Officer Clark and Corporal Valdez, died within moments, according to casualty reports. Lance Cpl. Holly A. Charette, 21, of Cranston, R.I., the former cheerleader, died three hours later after receiving treatment at Camp Falluja, the records show.

"It was orange and black and red smoke, flames everywhere, coming at us," Corporal Liberty recalled. "I didn't see my childhood, or a big white light. I just closed my eyes and I'm like, 'Wow, I'm going to die.' "

The marines in the rear Humvee heard the explosion, but were so far back they did not know what had been hit. Sergeant Bass took a photograph that shows a huge plume of smoke some 200 yards away.

Then came the radio call from the marines who were leading the convoy: "We've been hit! We've been hit! We've taken mass casualties. Get the doc up here."

Sergeants Bass and Timothy Lawson ran, with the medic, just as snipers across the road opened fire. When they arrived they found Corporal Liberty trying to hoist a woman away from the burning truck.

"I tried to pick her up by the back of her flak jacket," said Corporal Liberty, who is now being treated in North Carolina for an injured neck, shrapnel in one leg and combat stress. "She was a big healthy woman with lots of muscle, and she was down in the dirt and blood and I said, 'Come on girl, we've got to go.' "

Another marine grabbed Corporal Liberty and told her to let go. The woman was already dead.

The women took shelter at a storefront about 100 yards off the road and the few men who were present had to run back and forth carrying the wounded. In all, 13 women and men were injured.

Against orders, two men from the second cargo truck jumped out and raced ahead to help, including Cpl. Carlos Pineda, a 23-year-old from Los Angeles. When smoke from the flaming truck cleared for a moment, a bullet found the gap in the armor on his side and sliced through his lungs.

His widow, Ana, said she later received a letter he wrote the day before, saying he had narrowly escaped harm in another attack. "He said, 'I feel my luck here is just running out.' "

When another Marine unit arrived on the scene, the dead and wounded were loaded onto the second cargo truck and the convoy pressed on to camp. One of the two Humvees then broke down, and one of the injured women had to be moved to the cargo truck.

In the back, Corporal Saalman started to sing. First, "America the Beautiful," then "Amazing Grace."

"I have this thing ever since I was little, if I get scared or I'm worried or someone else is worried, I sing," said Corporal Saalman, whose nickname is Songbird.

It calmed her platoon, the marines said, and between verses she consoled the woman whose scorched head lay in her lap.


Wrong Armor for the Mission

Long before that June day, Marine commanders were wrestling with a vexing problem: their troops lacked the right protection for a war exacting its toll in roadside bombs.

To carry out its traditional mission of leading invasions, the Marines have lightly armored amphibious vehicles to get them onto dry ground and trucks to ferry them and their supplies on the back lines. The cargo truck that carried the security checkpoint workers through Falluja each day was conceived of in the early 1990's without armor for noncombat supply lines.

"We equip for what we fight and the truck was not designed to be an armored vehicle," said Maj. Gen. William D. Catto, the leader of the unit responsible for equipping marines, in an interview at his headquarters in Quantico, Va.

In November of 2003, as the Pentagon was ordering the Marines to relieve Army troops in Iraq, General Catto's team told Oshkosh Truck, which makes the cargo truck, to help create an integrated armor system, according to records released to The New York Times.

"During the fall of 2003, we noted the alarming increase in the number of Army vehicles under attack," Col. Susan Schuler, a Marine procurement official, said in an e-mail message. "Therefore, anticipating that Marine units would return to Iraq in early 2004, we had to address vehicle hardening of all our fleets."

General Catto said the plan was ideal but was taking too long. In the meantime, they began buying ceramic panels used on military aircraft, but could not get enough from the single company that was making them.

So they obtained metal plates, which were neither as strong nor as tall as the factory armor that was being developed.

The women's truck that was hit in Falluja had been fitted with the plates and General Catto said he had been told that they repelled the blast. But the makeshift shielding, just 36½ inches tall, left the women's necks and heads exposed.

A year earlier, when four marines were killed in Ramadi after a roadside bomb hit their Humvee, their company leader told The Times that a few inches more of steel would have saved their lives.

A contract to produce the new factory armor for the cargo trucks, which is double-walled and 46 inches high, was awarded in September 2004, but the Marine Corps said it could find only one company to make it: Plasan Sasa, based in Kibbutz Sasa, Israel.

With nearly 1,000 cargo trucks in Iraq, General Catto said he would like to have multiple companies making the armor, but Plasan Sasa holds the rights to the design. However, Plasan's chief executive, Dan Ziv, said his firm had more than kept pace with the Marines' schedule. "We are not the bottleneck at the moment," he said.

The armor kits take 300 hours of work to install, and General Catto said that with the marines so pressed by the war, they could not easily give up their trucks to have the work done. The first trucks retrofitted with factory armor began showing up in the field on May 31, the Marines said, and as of last week half of its cargo trucks had this armor installed. That leaves about 460 trucks in Iraq with the same protection as the truck that carried the Marine women in Falluja.

Despite the June 23 ambush, Corporal Saalman said she was willing to return to Iraq.

Sergeant Bass, who has returned to a marketing job in San Diego, said he had turned the events over and over in his head. "I don't want to blame everything on the Marine Corps," he said. "Leaders make mistakes and aren't perfect."

Then he added: "We were undermanned and overtaxed, and that is not out of the norm for the Marine Corps. But in a wartime situation it really hindered our capability and sometimes our willingness to do things."

Hard Look at Mission That Ended in Inferno for 3 Women, NYT, 20.12.2005,






Five US soldiers

plead guilty to Iraq abuse


Mon Dec 19, 2005 6:29 PM ET


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Five U.S. Army Rangers court-martialed over charges of detainee abuse in Iraq have pleaded guilty and been given punishments varying from 30 days to six months in confinement, the military said on Monday.

Two of the soldiers would receive a bad conduct discharge over the charges, which resulted from an investigation into allegations of abuse that took place on September 7, a statement said. It said the sentences were passed at courts-martial completed between December 8 and 13.

In November, the military said five soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment had been charged after allegations they had punched and kicked Iraqi detainees and hit them with a broomstick on September 7 in Baghdad, between arresting them and taking them to prison.

It was not immediately clear whether Monday's statement described the outcome of the November charges.

    Five US soldiers plead guilty to Iraq abuse, R, 19.12.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-12-19T232922Z_01_ARM984374_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-ABUSE.xml






Bush, Saying U.S. Is Winning,

Asks Patience on Iraq


December 19, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 - President Bush declared to the nation on Sunday night that the United States was winning the war in Iraq and pleaded with his viewers not to "give in to despair" over a conflict that has cost more than 2,100 American lives and an estimated 30,000 Iraqi deaths.

In a 17-minute live televised address from the Oval Office, his first in the formal setting since he announced that he had ordered the Iraq invasion in March 2003, Mr. Bush offered a vigorous reaffirmation of an unpopular war and asked his viewers for patience.

"Some look at the challenges in Iraq, and conclude that the war is lost, and not worth another dime or another day," Mr. Bush said. "I don't believe that. Our military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden and make sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost."

He added: "And not even the terrorists believe it. We know from their communications that they feel a tightening noose and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq."

The president, speaking in a steady voice punctuated by the constant gesturing of his hands, nonetheless acknowledged his critics more than he has in the past, and adopted a more humble tone. "I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq," Mr. Bush said. "I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt."

But he also made clear that he himself had not wavered in his commitment to the war.

"I do not expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request," the president said. "Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom."

The president held out the possibility of American troop withdrawals in 2006, but he made no promises, and did not mention anticipated Pentagon reductions of troops to 138,000 in the next few months, which would be a return to the military's "baseline" level before the election last Thursday. Currently there about 160,000 American troops in Iraq, a number that was increased to keep order during the vote.

"We will see the Iraqi military gaining strength and confidence, and the democratic process moving forward," Mr. Bush said. "As these achievements come, it should require fewer American troops to accomplish our mission. I will make decisions on troop levels based on the progress we see on the ground and advice of our military leaders, not based on artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington."

Democrats countered that while they welcomed the more realistic tone of Mr. Bush's speech, he had failed to explain the realities of the war. "He acknowledged that we have made mistakes and he acknowledged that he understood why people are upset with him," said Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, in an interview after Mr. Bush's speech.

But "he made it sound like if we just get rid of Al Qaeda all will be fine in Iraq. As I said to the president on Friday, every single member of Al Qaeda in Iraq could be shot dead, but Mr. President, you would still have a civil war in Iraq."

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said Mr. Bush's speech had not outlined the steps for the political transition that the Senate hopes to see next year in Iraq. "If the intent was to restate the mission, he certainly did that," Ms. Feinstein said in an interview. "But if the intent was to say how we get out, I don't think he did it. He did not recognize that the solutions have to be political."

The president's address, his fifth major speech on Iraq in 19 days, was the culmination of an intense campaign by the White House to try to stop a slide in support for the war that began last summer and intensified this fall. Mr. Bush delivered his remarks as he has come under new criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for ordering the National Security Agency to conduct an electronic eavesdropping program in the United States without first obtaining warrants.

The disclosure of that program, reported Friday in The New York Times, has overshadowed some of the good news of the Iraq election, and has frustrated a White House that was hoping to use the high turnout and relative calm of the vote as a positive end to the president's series of speeches. Vice President Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney, seemed to give voice to that frustration when she told CNN in an interview broadcast Sunday that questions about criticism of administration policy were "really wrongheaded" and that the Iraqi vote was more important.

"Now, that's the story from this week, and that's what I think we should focus on," Mrs. Cheney said.

The president used his address to hail those elections, even as he said that the bloodshed in the country would continue.

"This election will not mean the end of violence," Mr. Bush said. "But it is the beginning of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote 6,000 miles away in a vital region of the world means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror."

The president reiterated his position that Iraq was the central front in the war against terrorism, and that despite the views of many critics, the American-led invasion into Baghdad had not created more terrorists ready to fight the United States. "My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists," Mr. Bush said. "We invite terrorism by ignoring them."

The president also warned, as he has in the past, about an early withdrawal from Iraq. "We would cause tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve and tighten their repressive grip," Mr. Bush said. "We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us - and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever before."

Mr. Bush's remarks, delivered to a prime-time audience a week before Christmas, were an attempt to drive home the major points of his four previous Iraq speeches before Americans turn their attention to the holidays. The president's earlier speeches focused on Iraq reconstruction, politics and security.

As he has in his previous speeches, Mr. Bush said he had made mistakes in Iraq and acknowledged in a more personal way than before the suffering he himself had caused. "I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss, and not one of those decisions has been taken lightly," Mr. Bush said. "I know this war is controversial, yet being your president requires doing what is right and accepting the consequences."

Yet overall his tone was positive. "Defeatism may have its partisan uses, but it is not justified by the facts," Mr. Bush said. He added, "My fellow citizens, not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq."

The president closed with words from "Christmas Bells," a carol written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the Civil War that is known for its tone of desperation about the conflict. But rather than repeating the words from one particularly dark verse - "And in despair I bowed my head; 'There is no peace on earth,' I said" - Mr. Bush chose to end with the carol's closing lines, "God is not dead, nor does he sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting for this article.

    Bush, Saying U.S. Is Winning, Asks Patience on Iraq, NYT, 19.12.2005,






The Facts

Not Too Far From the Mark

on All Those Numbers in the Speech


December 19, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 - As he reaffirmed his commitment to the military mission in Iraq, President Bush on Sunday cited his administration's most recent accounting of the growth of Iraqi security forces but offered no specific timetable for reducing American troop levels there.

Mr. Bush said that more than 125 Iraqi battalions are now in the fight against home-grown insurgents and foreign terrorists, a number slightly less than that offered by military officers in Iraq, who say that 130 Iraqi army and special police battalions now are in the field.

That statistic has changed even from Nov. 30, when Mr. Bush delivered an address on Iraq policy at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and said that "there are over 120 Iraqi Army and police combat battalions in the fight against the terrorists."

More than 50 of those battalions "are taking the lead," Mr. Bush said Sunday night, up from the figure of 40 battalions he cited in the Naval Academy speech. In his address on Sunday, Mr. Bush said American-led coalition forces have transferred more than a dozen military bases to Iraqi control as part of a process to hand over a larger share of the battle to local forces. He could also have said that foreign coalition officers have either closed or turned over to Iraqi control 29 forward operating bases across the country.

Those closures are part of a plan for American forces to step back from the fight, while reducing the target they offer insurgents and minimizing a presence that alienates many Iraqis.The way home from Iraq for American forces is through the growth of competent Iraqi security forces, and those numbers are indeed expanding, according to officers in Iraq.

The American military's official statistics on Iraqi security forces - about 75,000 police officers and about 100,000 soldiers - are a bit smaller than White House statistics, but the number is projected to grow rapidly.

"As these achievements come, it should require fewer American troops to accomplish our mission," Mr. Bush said Sunday. "I will make decisions on troop levels based on the progress we see on the ground and the advice of our military leaders - not based on artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington."

Pentagon and military officials have said that the number of American troops now in Iraq, 160,000 - which grew from the 138,000 baseline of the past year because of the overlap of incoming and departing troops timed to the national election last week - is already scheduled to return to 138,000 by early next year.

Military commanders have drawn up a series of troop plans, ranging from a speedy withdrawal if that is demanded by the new, sovereign Iraqi government, to increasing force levels if requested due to a spike in violence.

But military planners say their target is what one officer called "the magic 100,000" number, which could be reached by the end of next year if Iraqi security forces step up and the security situation stabilizes.

Already the United States Army has drafted proposals to hold back one brigade that was scheduled to enter Iraq and to assign some soldiers from another brigade to train Iraqis and guard utilities and other public infrastructure, Pentagon civilian and military officials have said.

Mr. Bush spoke broadly of the deep commitment to the mission found among American officers and troops in Iraq, and he noted that even "the terrorists" have sent communications among themselves that admit "they feel a tightening noose, and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq."

But Mr. Bush, in his speech, did not cite assessments by the Pentagon, the military and American intelligence that acknowledge the complex nature of an insurgency made up of foreign fighters, former government loyalists, Sunni and Shiite militants and even common criminals - a complicated mix that offers no single solution for stability.

Turning to reconstruction in Iraq, Mr. Bush acknowledged "a number of setbacks," without going into the level of detail that even he has offered in other speeches. The problem has been that many reconstruction dollars have gone into security, and not into rebuilding, and that too large an emphasis was placed on a few major projects - many managed by American firms - rather than on a broader variety of local efforts that would have hired Iraqis, offering them a salary and a stake in the future.

Mr. Bush said that 7 in 10 Iraqis "say their lives are going well and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve even more in the year ahead." Indeed, that has been the general sense expressed in recent polling, including a poll of about 1,700 Iraqis taken in November by Oxford Research International for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Sixty percent said the United States and its allies had done a bad job in Iraq, and almost two-thirds said they opposed the foreign presence. When asked how things are "not for you personally, but for Iraq as a whole," more than half said things were "quite bad" or "very bad," and only 45 percent said "very good" or "quite good."

A quarter said the Americans should leave now, and another 20 percent that they should leave when the new government is seated.

As Mr. Bush said, about 70 percent in that poll said things in their lives were "very good" or "quite good," and a similar portion said their lives had become better since the spring of 2003. About two-thirds said they expected their lives to improve in the year ahead.

    Not Too Far From the Mark on All Those Numbers in the Speech, NYT, 19.12.2005,







The President's Oval Office Address


December 18, 2005
The New York Times

The following is text of President George W. Bush's speech from the Oval Office regarding the state of the war in Iraq, as recorded by The New York Times:

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH. Good evening. Three days ago, in large numbers, Iraqis went to the polls to choose their own leaders - a landmark day in the history of liberty. In coming weeks, the ballots will be counted, … a new government formed … aand a people who suffered in tyranny for so long will become full members of the free world.

This election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning of something new: cConstitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote - 6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world - means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror.

All who had a part in this achievement - Iraqis, and Americans, and our Ccoalition partners - can be proud. Yet our work is not done. There is more testing and sacrifice before us. I know many Americans have questions about the cost and direction of this war. So tonight I want to talk to you about how far we have come in Iraq, and the path that lies ahead.

From this office, nearly three years ago, I announced the start of military operations in Iraq. Our Ccoalition confronted a regime that defied United Nations Security Council Rresolutions, violated a cease-fire agreement, sponsored terrorism and possessed, we believed, weapons of mass destruction. After the swift fall of Baghdad, we found mass graves filled by a dictator, we found some capacity to restart programs to produce weapons of mass destruction but we did not find those weapons.

It is true that Saddam Hussein had a history of pursuing and using weapons of mass destruction. It is true that he systematically concealed those programs and blocked the work of U.N. weapons inspectors. It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As your President, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq.

Yet it was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He was given an ultimatum - and he made his choice for war. And the result of that war was to rid a - the - the world of a murderous dictator who menaced his people, invaded his neighbors and declared America to be his enemy. Saddam Hussein, captured and jailed, is still the same raging tyrant - only now without a throne. His power to harm a single man, woman or child is gone forever. And the world is better for it.

Since the removal of Saddam, this war - like other wars in our history - has been difficult. The mission of American troops in urban raids and desert patrols, fighting Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists, has brought danger and suffering and loss. This loss has caused sorrow for our whole nation - and it has led some to ask if we are creating more problems than we're solving.

That is an important question, and the answer depends on your view of the war on terror. If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone.

This is not the threat I see. I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims - a vision in which books are burned and women are oppressed and all dissent is crushed. Terrorist operatives conduct their campaign of murder with a set of declared and specific goals - to demoralize free nations, to drive us out of the Middle East, to spread an empire of fear across that region and to wage a perpetual war against America and our friends. These terrorists view the world as a giant battlefield and they seek to attack us wherever they can. This has attracted Al Qaeda to Iraq, where they are attempting to frighten and intimidate America into a policy of retreat.

The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere, they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if we were not fighting them in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens - they would be on the offense and headed our way.

September the 11th, 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our country seriously, and it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq, we were not in Afghanistan but the terrorists attacked us anyway - and killed nearly 3,000 men, women and children in our own country. My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share.

The work in Iraq has been especially difficult - more difficult than we expected. Reconstruction efforts and the training of Iraqi security forces started more slowly than we hoped. We continue to see violence and suffering, caused by an enemy that is determined and brutal, unconstrained by conscience or the rules of war.

Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day. I don't believe that. Our military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden and make the sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost. And not even the terrorists believe it. We know from their own communications that they feel a tightening noose - and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq.

The terrorists will continue to have the coward's power to plant roadside bombs and recruit suicide bombers. And you will continue to see the grim results on the evening news. This proves that the war is difficult - it doesn't mean that we are losing. Behind the images of chaos that terrorists create for the cameras, we are making steady - steady gains with a clear objective in view.

America, our coalition and Iraqi leaders are working toward the same goal - a democratic Iraq that can defend itself, that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists and that will serve as a model of freedom for the Middle East.

We've put in place a strategy to achieve this goal - a strategy I've been discussing in detail over the last few weeks. This plan has three critical elements.

First, our coalition will remain on the offense - finding and clearing out the enemy, transferring control of more territory to Iraqi units, and building up the Iraqi security forces so they can increasingly lead the fight. At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi army and police battalions ready for combat. Now, there are more than 125 Iraqi combat battalions fighting the enemy, more than 50 are taking the lead and we have transferred more than a dozen military bases to Iraqi control.

Second, we're helping the Iraqi government establish the institutions of a unified and lasting democracy, in which all of Iraq's peoples are included and represented. Here also, the news is encouraging. Three days ago, more than 10 million Iraqis went to the polls - including many Sunni Iraqis who had boycotted national elections last January. Iraqis of every background are recognizing that democracy is the future of the country they love - and they want their voices heard. One Iraqi, after dipping his finger in the purple ink as he cast his ballot, stuck his finger in the air and said: "This is a thorn in the eyes of the terrorists." Another voter was asked, "Are you Sunni or Shia?" And he responded, "I am Iraqi."

Third, after a number of setbacks, our coalition is moving forward with a reconstruction plan to revive Iraq's economy and infrastructure, and to give Iraqis confidence that a free life will be a better life. Today in Iraq, seven in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve even more in the year ahead. Despite the violence, Iraqis are optimistic - and that optimism is justified.

In all three aspects of our strategy - security, democracy and reconstruction - we have learned from our experiences and fixed what has not worked. We will continue to listen to honest criticism and make every change that will help us complete the mission. Yet there is a difference between honest critics who recognize what is wrong and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right.

Defeatism may have its partisan uses, but it is not justified by the facts. For every scene of destruction in Iraq, there are more scenes of rebuilding and hope. For every life lost, there are countless more lives reclaimed. And for every terrorist working to stop freedom in Iraq, there are many more Iraqis and Americans working to defeat them. My fellow citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq - we are winning the war in Iraq.

It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. We would abandon our Iraqi friends and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We would undermine the morale of our troops by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed. We would cause the tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve and tighten their repressive grip. We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever before. To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor, and I will not allow it.

We are approaching a New Year, and there are certain things all Americans can expect to see. We will see more sacrifice - from our military, their families and the Iraqi people. We will see a concerted effort to improve Iraqi police forces and fight corruption. We will see the Iraqi military gaining strength and confidence, and the democratic process moving forward. As these achievements come, it should require fewer American troops to accomplish our mission. I will make decisions on troop levels based on the progress we see on the ground and the advice of our military leaders - not based on artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington. Our forces in Iraq are on the road to victory and that is the road that will take them home.

In the months ahead, all Americans will have a part in the success of this war. Members of Congress will need to provide resources for our military. Our men and women in uniform, who have done so much already, will continue their brave and urgent work. And tonight, I ask all of you listening to carefully consider the stakes of this war, to realize how far we have come and the good we are doing, and to have patience in this difficult, noble and necessary cause.

I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country: victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party because the security of our people is in the balance. I don'ot expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair and do not give up on this fight for freedom. Americans can expect some things of me as well. My most solemn responsibility is to protect our nation, and that requires me to make some tough decisions. I see the consequences of those decisions when I meet wounded servicemen and women who cannot leave their hospital beds, but summon the strength to look me in the eye and say they would do it all over again. I see the consequences when I talk to parents who miss a child so much but tell me he loved being a soldier, he believed in his mission and, Mr. President, finish the job.

I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss, and not one of those decisions has been taken lightly. I know this war is controversial, yet being your President requires doing what I believe is right and accepting the consequences. And I have never been more certain that America's actions in Iraq are essential to the security of our citizens, and will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

Next week, Americans will gather to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. Many families will be praying for loved ones spending this season far from home - in Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous places. Our nation joins in those prayers. We pray for the safety and strength of our troops. We trust, with them, in a love that conquers all fear and a light that reaches the darkest corners of the Earth. And we remember the words of the Christmas carol, written during the Civil War: "God is not dead, nor [does] He sleep; the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on Earth, good-will to men."

Thank you, and good night.

    The President's Oval Office Address, NYT, 18.12.2005,






Air Force's F-22A Raptor

ready for combat


Posted 12/17/2005
12:40 AM
USA Today


NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The F-22A Raptor, an advanced stealth fighter jet in development since the 1980s, is ready for combat, the Air Force announced.

"If we have to go out the door to a conflict that starts tomorrow, we're going to take the Raptor with us," said Gen. Ronald Keys, head of Air Combat Command, at Langley Air Force Base.

The Raptor has reached "initial operational capability," the Air Force said Thursday, meaning it is certified as ready to fight and supported by a properly trained and equipped force. It also means the aircraft is qualified to fly homeland defense missions, officials said.

The Air Force says the fighter will ensure America's air dominance for years to come.

Critics, however, say the Raptor is too expensive at a time when U.S. combat aircraft already dominate the skies, and that it was designed for a high-tech enemy that no longer exists — the Soviet Union.

Previously designated the F/A-22, the Raptor was intended primarily as a stealthy replacement for the F-15 Eagle, which was built to shoot down other planes. Unlike its predecessor, the Raptor can fly at supersonic speeds for long distances.

The Raptor is the most expensive aircraft in the Air Force's inventory, said Doug Karas, an Air Force spokesman in Washington.

The most recent Raptors, not including research and development, cost about $133 million each to produce, he said. With research, development and testing, the cost is about $350 million per aircraft, he said.

So far, the Air Force has 56 Raptors, including training and test fighters, at Langley, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and Edwards Air Force Base in California. The current budget plans include about 180, and the Air Force wants more, Karas said.

Twelve jets will head to Alaska in June for their first routine peacetime exercise deployment, Keys said. The first combat-ready Raptors are flying with the 27th Fighter Squadron of the 1st Fighter Wing, at Langley.

Analyst John Pike called the Raptor "the greatest air-to-air fighter plane ever built."

"You've got an airplane that the enemy cannot see that ... can maneuver around the sky very quickly," said Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a research center on security issues. "You just would not want to go up against it because you would know that you would lose."

It's too soon to tell whether the Raptor will be worth the expense, though, Pike said.

"You do have to wonder who we're going to use it against," he said.

    Air Force's F-22A Raptor ready for combat, UT, 17.12.2005,






Bush Continues Speeches

Aimed at Increasing Support for Iraq


December 12, 2005
The New York Times


In his third speech in recent weeks in an effort to bolster support for the Iraq war, President Bush compared the violence surrounding a democratic transition in Iraq to the early years of the United States’ tumultuous democracy.

For Mr. Bush’s speech today three days before scheduled parliamentary elections in Iraq the White House chose Philadelphia as a symbolic location to make the case that there has been significant progress in Iraq since the United States led an invasion of the country in 2003.

“I can think of no better place to discuss the rise of a free Iraq than the heart of Philadelphia, the birthplace of America’s democracy,” Mr. Bush said. He spoke of post-revolutionary America’s “disorder and upheaval” in which it was unclear whether democracy would take hold in the newly independent nation.

“Our founders faced many difficult challenges, they made mistakes, they learned from their experiences and they adjusted their approach, Mr. Bush said. “No nation in history has made the transition to a free society without facing challenges, setbacks and false starts.”

In Iraq, the president said, “the choice is between democracy and terrorism, and there is no middle ground.”

Voters in Iraq this week will select 275 members of Parliament to four year terms. In a January election that seated temporary members to Parliament, Sunni Arabs largely boycotted the vote. This time, observers expect Sunnis to vote in much larger numbers.

The president’s speech at Philadelphia’s World Affairs Council was the third of four planned addresses by Mr. Bush in defense of the Iraq war, in which about 30,000 Iraqis and 2,140 Americans have been killed. The war was aimed at forcing Saddam Hussein from office. But even with Mr. Hussein standing trial in Baghdad, Mr. Bush has seen an erosion in both support for the war in the United States and his own popularity.

The president’s speeches coincide with a broad public relations push by the White House, which has included briefings for members of Congress about the war’s progress given by the president and top military officials. The president is scheduled to give another speech on Wednesday.

During the 40-minute speech and a subsequent question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush repeatedly linked the war to American security, as he has throughout and prior to the start of the war.

“By helping Iraqis build a strong democracy we are adding to our own security,” he said, calling the forces fighting United States troops a collection of “rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists.”

“They can’t beat us militarily,” Mr. Bush said. “The only way we can lose is if we lose our nerve.”

    Bush Continues Speeches Aimed at Increasing Support for Iraq, NYT, 12.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/12/international/middleeast/12cnd-bush.html







Military's Information War

Is Vast and Often Secretive


December 11, 2005
The New York Times


The media center in Fayetteville, N.C., would be the envy of any global communications company.

In state of the art studios, producers prepare the daily mix of music and news for the group's radio stations or spots for friendly television outlets. Writers putting out newspapers and magazines in Baghdad and Kabul converse via teleconferences. Mobile trailers with high-tech gear are parked outside, ready for the next crisis.

The center is not part of a news organization, but a military operation, and those writers and producers are soldiers. The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call "truthful messages" to support the United States government's objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden.

"We call our stuff information and the enemy's propaganda," said Col. Jack N. Summe, then the commander of the Fourth Psychological Operations Group, during a tour in June. Even in the Pentagon, "some public affairs professionals see us unfavorably," and inaccurately, he said, as "lying, dirty tricksters."

The recent disclosures that a Pentagon contractor in Iraq paid newspapers to print "good news" articles written by American soldiers prompted an outcry in Washington, where members of Congress said the practice undermined American credibility and top military and White House officials disavowed any knowledge of it. President Bush was described by Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser, as "very troubled" about the matter. The Pentagon is investigating.

But the work of the contractor, the Lincoln Group, was not a rogue operation. Hoping to counter anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world, the Bush administration has been conducting an information war that is extensive, costly and often hidden, according to documents and interviews with contractors, government officials and military personnel.

The campaign was begun by the White House, which set up a secret panel soon after the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate information operations by the Pentagon, other government agencies and private contractors.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the focus of most of the activities, the military operates radio stations and newspapers, but does not disclose their American ties. Those outlets produce news material that is at times attributed to the "International Information Center," an untraceable organization.

Lincoln says it planted more than 1,000 articles in the Iraqi and Arab press and placed editorials on an Iraqi Web site, Pentagon documents show. For an expanded stealth persuasion effort into neighboring countries, Lincoln presented plans, since rejected, for an underground newspaper, television news shows and an anti-terrorist comedy based on "The Three Stooges."

Like the Lincoln Group, Army psychological operations units sometimes pay to deliver their message, offering television stations money to run unattributed segments or contracting with writers of newspaper opinion pieces, military officials said.

"We don't want somebody to look at the product and see the U.S. government and tune out," said Col. James Treadwell, who ran psychological operations support at the Special Operations Command in Tampa.

The United States Agency for International Development also masks its role at times. AID finances about 30 radio stations in Afghanistan, but keeps that from listeners. The agency has distributed tens of thousands of iPod-like audio devices in Iraq and Afghanistan that play prepackaged civic messages, but it does so through a contractor that promises "there is no U.S. footprint."

As the Bush administration tries to build democracies overseas and support a free press, getting out its message is critical. But that is enormously difficult, given widespread hostility in the Muslim world over the war in Iraq, deep suspicion of American ambitions and the influence of antagonistic voices. The American message makers who are wary of identifying their role can cite findings by the Pentagon, pollsters and others underscoring the United States' fundamental problems of credibility abroad.

Defenders of influence campaigns argue that they are appropriate. "Psychological operations are an essential part of warfare, more so in the electronic age than ever," said Lt. Col. Charles A. Krohn, a retired Army spokesman and journalism professor. "If you're going to invade a country and eject its government and occupy its territory, you ought to tell people who live there why you've done it. That requires a well-thought-out communications program."

But covert information battles may backfire, others warn, or prove ineffective. The news that the American military was buying influence was met mostly with shrugs in Baghdad, where readers tend to be skeptical about the media. An Iraqi daily newspaper, Azzaman, complained in an editorial that the propaganda campaign was an American effort "to humiliate the independent national press." Many Iraqis say that no amount of money spent on trying to mold public opinion is likely to have much impact, given the harsh conditions under the American military occupation.

While the United States does not ban the distribution of government propaganda overseas, as it does domestically, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report that lack of attribution could undermine the credibility of news videos. In finding that video news releases by the Bush administration that appeared on American television were improper, the G.A.O. said that such articles "are no longer purely factual" because "the essential fact of attribution is missing."

In an article titled "War of the Words," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote about the importance of disclosure in America's communications in The Wall Street Journal in July. "The American system of openness works," he wrote. The United States must find "new and better ways to communicate America's mission abroad," including "a healthy culture of communication and transparency between government and public."


Trying to Make a Case

After the Sept. 11 attacks forced many Americans to recognize the nation's precarious standing in the Arab world, the Bush administration decided to act to improve the country's image and promote its values.

"We've got to do a better job of making our case," President Bush told reporters after the attacks.

Much of the government's information machinery, including the United States Information Agency and some C.I.A. programs, was dismantled after the cold war. In that struggle with the Soviet Union, the information warriors benefited from the perception that the United States was backing victims of tyrannical rule. Many Muslims today view Washington as too close to what they characterize as authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere.

The White House turned to John Rendon, who runs a Washington communications company, to help influence foreign audiences. Before the war in Afghanistan, he helped set up centers in Washington, London and Pakistan so the American government could respond rapidly in the foreign media to Taliban claims. "We were clueless," said Mary Matalin, then the communications aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Mr. Rendon's business, the Rendon Group, had a history of government work in trouble spots, In the 1990's, the C.I.A. hired him to secretly help the nascent Iraqi National Congress wage a public relations campaign against Saddam Hussein.

While advising the White House, Mr. Rendon also signed on with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under a $27.6 million contract, to conduct focus groups around the world and media analysis of outlets like Al Jazeera, the satellite network based in Qatar.

About the same time, the White House recruited Jeffrey B. Jones, a former Army colonel who ran the Fort Bragg psychological operations group, to coordinate the new information war. He led a secret committee, the existence of which has not been previously reported, that dealt with everything from public diplomacy, which includes education, aid and exchange programs, to covert information operations.

The group even examined the president's words. Concerned about alienating Muslims overseas, panel members said, they tried unsuccessfully to stop Mr. Bush from ending speeches with the refrain "God bless America."

The panel, later named the Counter Terrorism Information Strategy Policy Coordinating Committee, included members from the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies. Mr. Rendon advised a subgroup on counterpropaganda issues.

Mr. Jones's endeavor stalled within months, though, because of furor over a Pentagon initiative. In February 2002, unnamed officials told The New York Times that a new Pentagon operation called the Office of Strategic Influence planned "to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign news organizations." Though the report was denied and a subsequent Pentagon review found no evidence of plans to use disinformation, Mr. Rumsfeld shut down the office within days.

The incident weakened Mr. Jones's effort to develop a sweeping strategy to win over the Muslim world. The White House grew skittish, some agencies dropped out, and panel members soon were distracted by the war in Iraq, said Mr. Jones, who left his post this year. The White House did not respond to a request to discuss the committee's work.

What had begun as an ambitious effort to bolster America's image largely devolved into a secret propaganda war to counter the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon, which had money to spend and leaders committed to the cause, took the lead. In late 2002 Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters he gave the press a "corpse" by closing the Office of Strategic Influence, but he intended to "keep doing every single thing that needs to be done."

The Pentagon increased spending on its psychological and influence operations and for the first time outsourced work to contractors. One beneficiary has been the Rendon Group, which won additional multimillion-dollar Pentagon contracts for media analysis and a media operations center in Baghdad, including "damage control planning." The new Lincoln Group was another winner.


Pentagon Contracts

It is something of a mystery how Lincoln came to land more than $25 million in Pentagon contracts in a war zone.

The two men who ran the small business had no background in public relations or the media, according to associates and a résumé. Before coming to Washington and setting up Lincoln in 2004, Christian Bailey, born in Britain and now 30, had worked briefly in California and New York. Paige Craig, now 31, was a former Marine intelligence officer.

When the company was incorporated last year, using the name Iraqex, its stated purpose was to provide support services for business development, trade and investment in Iraq. The company's earliest ventures there included providing security to the military and renovating buildings. Iraqex also started a short-lived online business publication.

In mid-2004, the company formed a partnership with the Rendon Group and later won a $5 million Pentagon contract for an advertising and public relations campaign to "accurately inform the Iraqi people of the Coalition's goals and gain their support." Soon, the company changed its name to Lincoln Group. It is not clear how the partnership was formed; Rendon dropped out weeks after the contract was awarded.

Within a few months, Lincoln shifted to information operations and psychological operations, two former employees said. The company was awarded three new Pentagon contracts, worth tens of millions of dollars, they added. A Lincoln spokeswoman referred a reporter's inquiry about the contracts to Pentagon officials.

The company's work was part of an effort to counter disinformation in the Iraqi press. With nearly $100 million in United States aid, the Iraqi media has sharply expanded since the fall of Mr. Hussein. There are about 200 Iraqi-owned newspapers and 15 to 17 Iraqi-owned television stations. Many, though, are affiliated with political parties, and are fiercely partisan, with fixed pro- or anti-American stances, and some publish rumors, half-truths and outright lies.

From quarters at Camp Victory, the American base, the Lincoln Group works to get out the military's message.

Lincoln's employees work virtually side by side with soldiers. Army officers supervise Lincoln's work and demand to see details of article placements and costs, said one of the former employees, speaking on condition of anonymity because Lincoln's Pentagon contract prohibits workers from discussing their activities.

"Almost nothing we did did not have the command's approval," he said.

The employees would take news dispatches, called storyboards, written by the troops, translate them into Arabic and distribute them to newspapers. Lincoln hired former Arab journalists and paid advertising agencies to place the material.

Typically, Lincoln paid newspapers from $40 to $2,000 to run the articles as news articles or advertisements, documents provided to The New York Times by a former employee show. More than 1,000 articles appeared in 12 to 15 Iraqi and Arab newspapers, according to Pentagon documents. The publications did not disclose that the articles were generated by the military.

A company worker also often visited the Baghdad convention center, where the Iraqi press corps hung out, to recruit journalists who would write and place opinion pieces, paying them $400 to $500 as a monthly stipend, the employees said.

Like the dispatches produced at Fort Bragg, those storyboards were one-sided and upbeat. Each had a target audience, "Iraq General" or "Shi'ia," for example; an underlying theme like "Anti-intimidation" or "Success and Legitimacy of the ISF;" and a target newspaper.

Articles written by the soldiers at Camp Victory often assumed the voice of Iraqis. "We, all Iraqis, are the government. It is our country," noted one article. Another said, "The time has come for the ordinary Iraqi, you, me, our neighbors, family and friends to come together."

While some were plodding accounts filled with military jargon and bureaucratese, others favored the language of tabloids: "blood-thirsty apostates," "crawled on their bellies like dogs in the mud," "dim-witted fanatics," and "terror kingpin."

A former Lincoln employee said the ploy of making the articles appear to be written by Iraqis by removing any American fingerprints was not very effective. "Many Iraqis know it's from Americans," he said.

The military has sought to expand its media influence efforts beyond Iraq to neighboring states, including Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan, Pentagon documents say. Lincoln submitted a plan that was subsequently rejected, a Pentagon spokesman said. The company proposed placing editorials in magazines, newspapers and Web sites. In Iraq, the company posted editorials on a Web site, but military commanders stopped the operation for fear that the site's global accessibility might violate the federal ban on distributing propaganda to American audiences, according to Pentagon documents and a former Lincoln employee.

In its rejected plan, the company looked to American popular culture for ways to influence new audiences. Lincoln proposed variations of the satirical paper "The Onion," and an underground paper to be called "The Voice," documents show. And it planned comedies modeled after "Cheers" and the Three Stooges, with the trio as bumbling wannabe terrorists.


The Afghan Front

The Pentagon's media effort in Afghanistan began soon after the ouster of the Taliban. In what had been a barren media environment, 350 magazines and newspapers and 68 television and radio stations now operate. Most are independent; the rest are run by the government. The United States has provided money to support the media, as well as training for journalists and government spokesmen.

But much of the American role remains hidden from local readers and audiences.

The Pentagon, for example, took over the Taliban's radio station, renamed it Peace radio and began powerful shortwave broadcasts in local dialects, defense officials said. Its programs include music as well as 9 daily news scripts and 16 daily public service messages, according to Col. James Yonts, a United States military spokesman in Afghanistan. Its news accounts, which sometimes are attributed to the International Information Center, often put a positive spin on events or serve government needs.

The United States Army publishes a sister paper in Afghanistan, also called Peace. An examination of issues from last spring found no bad news.

"We have no requirements to adhere to journalistic principles of objectivity," Colonel Summe, the Army psychological operations specialist, said. "We tell the U.S. side of the story to approved targeted audiences" using truthful information. Neither the radio station nor the paper discloses its ties to the American military.

Similarly, AID does not locally disclose that dozens of Afghanistan radio stations get its support, through grants to a London-based nonprofit group, Internews. (AID discloses its support in public documents in Washington, most of which can be found globally on the Internet.)

The AID representative in Afghanistan, in an e-mail message relayed by Peggy O'Ban, an agency spokeswoman, explained the nondisclosure: "We want to maintain the perception (if not the reality) that these radio stations are in fact fully independent."

Recipients are required to adhere to standards. If a news organization produced "a daily drumbeat of criticism of the American military, it would become an issue," said James Kunder, an AID assistant administrator. He added that in combat zones, the issue of disclosure was a balancing act between security and assuring credibility.

The American role is also not revealed by another recipient of AID grants, Voice for Humanity, a nonprofit organization in Lexington, Ky. It supplied tens of thousands of audio devices in Iraq and Afghanistan with messages intended to encourage people to vote. Rick Ifland, the group's director, said the messages were part of the "positive developments in democracy, freedom and human rights in the Middle East."

It is not clear how effective the messages were or what recipients did with the iPod-like devices, pink for women and silver for men, which could not be altered to play music or other recordings.

To show off the new media in Afghanistan, AID officials invited Ms. Matalin, the former Cheney aide and conservative commentator, and the talk show host Rush Limbaugh to visit in February. Mr. Limbaugh told his listeners that students at a journalism school asked him "some of the best questions about journalism and about America that I've ever been asked."

One of the first queries, Mr. Limbaugh said, was "How do you balance justice and truth and objectivity?"

His reply: report the truth, don't hide any opinions or "interest in the outcome of events." Tell "people who you are," he said, and "they'll respect your credibility."

Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak contributed reporting from Afghanistan for this article.

    Military's Information War Is Vast and Often Secretive, NYT, 11.12.2005,






Bush Likens Iraqi Action

to Transition in '40's Japan


December 10, 2005
The New York Times


MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 9 - President Bush suggested Friday that history will vindicate his decision to invade Iraq, saying he believed that a half century from now, it will be regarded as important a transition for the world as the democratization of Japan was after World War II.

"I'm absolutely convinced that some day, 50 or 60 years from now, an American president will be speaking to an audience saying, 'Thank goodness a generation of Americans rose to the challenge and helped people be liberated from tyranny,' " Mr. Bush said. " 'Democracy spread and the world is more peaceful for it.' "

He spoke at a fund-raiser here expected to raise about a million dollars for Representative Mark Kennedy, a Republican running for the Senate in a state Mr. Bush has lost in two successive elections.

In a luncheon speech to a ballroom full of Mr. Kennedy's supporters, Mr. Bush repeated many of the arguments he has made in the past two weeks about the importance of winning the battle for Iraq.

"We have got a strategy for victory and we'll see that strategy through," he said, drawing on lines from recent policy speeches. "We will defeat the terrorists in Iraq. We will not let Al Qaeda take a stronghold - get a stronghold in Iraq. We'll help this country develop a democracy, which will send a powerful signal to people in Damascus and Tehran."

During last year's campaign, Mr. Bush often spoke of his friendship with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, remarking that a bitter enemy that Mr. Bush's father fought against in World War II has become a close friend and ally. He expanded on the theme during his recent trip in Asia, with Mr. Koizumi at his side, and used it again today to argue that history would prove him right in deciding to invade Iraq.

"Something happened between the time that my dad and your relatives signed up in World War II and I'm talking peace with Koizumi," he said. "And what happened was, Japan became a democracy."

Many outside experts and even some of Mr. Bush's own aides question his reliance on the comparison, noting that Japan was a unified state before World War II, but that Iraq has always been divided along religious and regional lines.

"It may sound too simple, but this is a comparison the president believes in deeply," one of his senior aides said when Mr. Bush was in Asia, declining to be quoted by name in discussing the president's thinking. "It's the argument he knows his presidency will be judged by."

    Bush Likens Iraqi Action to Transition in '40's Japan, NYT, 10.12.2005,






Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited

Is Tied to Coercion Claim


December 9, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

The fact that Mr. Libi recanted after the American invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the C.I.A. in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But American officials had not previously acknowledged either that Mr. Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Mr. Libi contended that his statements had been coerced.

A government official said that some intelligence provided by Mr. Libi about Al Qaeda had been accurate, and that Mr. Libi's claims that he had been treated harshly in Egyptian custody had not been corroborated.

A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report issued in February 2002 that expressed skepticism about Mr. Libi's credibility on questions related to Iraq and Al Qaeda was based in part on the knowledge that he was no longer in American custody when he made the detailed statements, and that he might have been subjected to harsh treatment, the officials said. They said the C.I.A.'s decision to withdraw the intelligence based on Mr. Libi's claims had been made because of his later assertions, beginning in January 2004, that he had fabricated them to obtain better treatment from his captors.

At the time of his capture in Pakistan in late 2001, Mr. Libi, a Libyan, was the highest-ranking Qaeda leader in American custody. A Nov. 6 report in The New York Times, citing the Defense Intelligence Agency document, said he had made the assertions about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda involving illicit weapons while in American custody.

Mr. Libi was indeed initially held by the United States military in Afghanistan, and was debriefed there by C.I.A. officers, according to the new account provided by the current and former government officials. But despite his high rank, he was transferred to Egypt for further interrogation in January 2002 because the White House had not yet provided detailed authorization for the C.I.A. to hold him.

While he made some statements about Iraq and Al Qaeda when in American custody, the officials said, it was not until after he was handed over to Egypt that he made the most specific assertions, which were later used by the Bush administration as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons.

Beginning in March 2002, with the capture of a Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah, the C.I.A. adopted a practice of maintaining custody itself of the highest-ranking captives, a practice that became the main focus of recent controversy related to detention of suspected terrorists.

The agency currently holds between two and three dozen high-ranking terrorist suspects in secret prisons around the world. Reports that the prisons have included locations in Eastern Europe have stirred intense discomfort on the continent and have dogged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit there this week.

Mr. Libi was returned to American custody in February 2003, when he was transferred to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to the current and former government officials. He withdrew his claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda in January 2004, and his current location is not known. A C.I.A. spokesman refused Thursday to comment on Mr. Libi's case. The current and former government officials who agreed to discuss the case were granted anonymity because most details surrounding Mr. Libi's case remain classified.

During his time in Egyptian custody, Mr. Libi was among a group of what American officials have described as about 150 prisoners sent by the United States from one foreign country to another since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks for the purposes of interrogation. American officials including Ms. Rice have defended the practice, saying it draws on language and cultural expertise of American allies, particularly in the Middle East, and provides an important tool for interrogation. They have said that the United States carries out the renditions only after obtaining explicit assurances from the receiving countries that the prisoners will not be tortured.

Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian ambassador to the United States, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that he had no specific knowledge of Mr. Libi's case. Mr. Fahmy acknowledged that some prisoners had been sent to Egypt by mutual agreement between the United States and Egypt. "We do interrogations based on our understanding of the culture," Mr. Fahmy said. "We're not in the business of torturing anyone."

In statements before the war, and without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, and other officials repeatedly cited the information provided by Mr. Libi as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons. Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."

The question of why the administration relied so heavily on the statements by Mr. Libi has long been a subject of contention. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, made public last month unclassified passages from the February 2002 document, which said it was probable that Mr. Libi "was intentionally misleading the debriefers."

The document showed that the Defense Intelligence Agency had identified Mr. Libi as a probable fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda involving illicit weapons.

Mr. Levin has since asked the agency to declassify four other intelligence reports, three of them from February 2002, to see if they also expressed skepticism about Mr. Libi's credibility. On Thursday, a spokesman for Mr. Levin said he could not comment on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Libi's detention because the matter was classified.

    Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim, NYT, 9.12.2005,






Cheney Says Withdrawal From Iraq 'Unwise'


December 6, 2005
Filed at 1:26 p.m. ET
The New York Times


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney argued forcefully Tuesday against an early withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, saying that would be ''unwise in the extreme'' and increase the risk of terrorist attacks in the United States and other nations.

''On this, both Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree: The only way the terrorists could win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission,'' Cheney said at this military base in northern New York, where the Army's 10th Mountain Division and the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division gathered for a rally.

The Troy, N.Y.-based 42nd Infantry, whose commander oversaw a task force of 24,000 troops in north-central Iraq, had about 3,500 Guardsmen return home in November.

''I realize some have advocated a sudden withdrawal of our forces. This would be unwise in the extreme -- a victory for terrorists, bad for the Iraqi people and bad for the United States,'' Cheney said to cheers from the crowd of 3,000 troops. ''To leave that country before the job is done would be to hand over Iraq to car-bombers and assassins.''

The vice president's appearances, which include a rally and a sit-down with troops, was part of a series of speeches by top administration officials intended to spell out U.S. goals in Iraq more clearly in the run-up to Iraq's Dec. 15 elections to pick a permanent government.

They come as polls show President Bush's approval rating at the lowest of his presidency: 37 percent in a recent AP-Ipsos poll, with a majority of Americans now saying the war was a mistake.

One of the administration's harshest critics in recent weeks has been Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a longtime hawk on military matters who now wants U.S. troops to pull out of Iraq. Murtha charged Tuesday that the administration was trying to justify the U.S. presence in Iraq by saying it was necessary to fight terrorism, when in reality the problem was insurgents rebelling against the U.S. presence and U.S.-backed government.

''When you fight an insurgency, you have to win the hearts and minds of the (Iraqi) people, and we've lost the hearts and minds of the people,'' Murtha said in an interview on NBC's ''Today'' show. Once the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, he said, the Iraqis themselves would take care of terrorist groups.

''Our military has done everything they could do,'' Murtha said. ''The Iraqis themselves have to take care of al-Qaida. ... We'll be better off if we redeploy outside of Iraq and go back in for something that affects our allies in the region or our national security.''

Cheney's words to the troops were not as biting as two speeches he made late last month, one to a Republican audience and the other to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, in which he lambasted Democratic lawmakers who voted to authorize the war in October 2002 and are now among the most outspoken war critics.

On Tuesday, he praised Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut for supporting the U.S. mission, and underscored divisions within the minority party.

''Some have suggested by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq in September 2001 and the terrorists hit us anyway.''

Afterward, Cheney met privately with two dozen troops who just returned from Iraq. ''The work you have done in Iraq is extraordinarily important and the subject of considerable debate, as it should be,'' he said.

Cheney was one of the administration's most forceful advocates of toppling Saddam's regime before the war that has now lasted 2 1/2 years. And he has lately been one of the most vocal defenders of Bush's appeals to stay the course in Iraq.

The latest round of speeches on Iraq began last Wednesday with Bush's address to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in which he detailed progress but gave no departure date, and the White House release of a 35-page document titled ''National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.''

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld delivered an installment Monday in a speech to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He criticized the news media's coverage of the war, claiming it emphasized negative stories, and said Iraqis themselves are more optimistic about their country.

About 3,100 troops from Fort Drum are currently serving in Iraq.

    Cheney Says Withdrawal From Iraq 'Unwise', NYT, 6.12.2005,
















Steve Bell        The Guardian        p. 33        2.12.2005

George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States


Masked insurgents mount show of force

in Ramadi after Bush speech

. Fighters target US base and government offices

· Marines dismiss incident as publicity stunt

Michael Howard in Sulaymaniya

The Guardian        Friday December 2, 2005

















Military Admits Planting News in Iraq


December 3, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 - The military acknowledged Friday in a briefing for a ranking Senate Republican that news articles written by American troops had been placed as paid advertisements in the Iraqi news media and not always properly identified.

Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters after receiving a 25-minute briefing from officials at the Pentagon that senior commanders in Iraq were trying to get to the bottom of a program that apparently also paid monthly stipends to friendly Iraqi journalists.

Mr. Warner said there had been no indications yet that the paid propaganda had been false. But he said that disclosures that an American company, under contract to the Pentagon, was making secret payments to plant articles with positive messages about the United States military mission could undermine the Bush administration's goals in Iraq and jeopardize Iraq's developing democratic institutions. "I remain gravely concerned about the situation," he said.

He said he had been told that the articles or advertisements were intended to counter disinformation in the Iraqi news media that was hurting the American military's efforts to stabilize the country.

Under the program, the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations firm working in Iraq, was hired to translate articles written by American troops into Arabic and then, in many cases, give them to advertising agencies for placement in the Iraqi news media.

Some of the articles failed to carry a required disclaimer that they were paid for, Mr. Warner said.

Defense officials said it was unclear what the disclaimer was supposed to say, whether it had been left off by the Lincoln Group or by Iraqi publishers and whether the omission was deliberate.

Mr. Warner said the articles had been produced by the information operations staff under Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who oversees day-to-day operations in Iraq. The senator said a senior officer had reviewed all the materials that were provided to the Lincoln Group for placement, and that military lawyers checked all materials produced by the military or Lincoln.

Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman in Iraq, said contractors like the Lincoln Group had been used to market the articles to reduce the risk to Iraqi publishers, who might be attacked if they were seen as being closely linked to the military. "If any part of our process does not have our full confidence, we will examine that activity and take appropriate action," he said in a statement. "If any contractor is failing to perform as we have intended, we will take appropriate action."

On Friday, the Lincoln Group defended its practices, saying it had been trying to counter insurgent propaganda with accounts of heroism by allied forces. "Lincoln Group has consistently worked with the Iraqi media to promote truthful reporting across Iraq," Laurie Adler, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement.

But Congressional Democrats said the Lincoln Group activities were the latest example of questionable public relations policies by the administration. In an earlier case, payments were made to columnists, among them Armstrong Williams, who received $240,000, undisclosed at the time, for promoting No Child Left Behind, the administration's education initiative. In January, President Bush publicly abandoned this practice.

"From Armstrong Williams to fake TV news, we know this White House has tried multiple times to buy the news at home," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said in a release on Friday. "Now, we need to find out if they've exported this practice to the Middle East."

Also on Friday, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, called on the acting Pentagon inspector general, Thomas F. Gimble, to investigate the Lincoln Group's activities to see if they amounted to an illegal covert operation. "The Pentagon's devious scheme to place favorable propaganda in Iraqi newspapers speaks volumes about the president's credibility gap," Mr. Kennedy said. "If Americans were truly welcomed in Iraq as liberators, we wouldn't have to doctor the news for the Iraqi people."

Larry Di Rita, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said General Vines and his staff in Iraq insisted that their activities with Lincoln had been "in accordance with all policies and guidelines." Mr. Di Rita said in a telephone interview that for now, the Lincoln Group would continue its efforts while military officials reviewed the overall program.

Mr. Di Rita said that military officials were also trying to determine what, if any, payments Lincoln made to Iraqi journalists. On its Web site, the Lincoln Group has noted its "thriving network of offices" in Iraq and its working relationships with "over 300 Iraqi journalists."

Mr. Di Rita acknowledged that parts of the Lincoln contract were classified, specifically procedures dealing with Iraqi personnel. Revealing the identities of Iraqis working for Lincoln or details of their work with the Americans could threaten their safety, he said.

    Military Admits Planting News in Iraq, NYT, 3.12.2005,

















Vic Harville

Little Rock, Arkansas -- Stephens Media Group        Cagle        2.12.2005




George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States















Baghdad Memo

For Once,

President and His Generals

See the Same War


December 1, 2005
The New York Times


BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 30 - For anyone who has spent time in the field with American officers here, President Bush's speech on Wednesday was a watershed: for the first time in the two years since the conflict here turned brutal, the war Mr. Bush described sounded much like the one his generals grapple with every day.

The president acknowledged problems that have hobbled the American enterprise since the 2003 invasion: An American effort to build up Iraqi forces that went through a top-to-bottom makeover after early deployments of Iraqi troops saw them "running from the fight." Iraqi units that are "still uneven," despite the new American effort to train and equip them that has cost more than $10 billion. A Sunni Arab community that remains largely unyielding, despite months of efforts by Americans seeking to draw them back into the corridors of power.

Mr. Bush closed with a vow to "settle for nothing less than complete victory," without saying how that squared with the plan to hand over the main burden of the war to the newly trained Iraqi troops who, American field commanders say, have done well in some recent battles but much less impressively in others. Nor did the president say how his rejection of "artificial timetables" would be sustained politically if the plan for American troops to step back decisively in 2006, and for Iraqi units to step forward, falters in the face of the unrelenting insurgency.

But for all that, Mr. Bush, in some passages of his speech, came much closer than he has before to matching the hard-nosed assessments of the war that have long been made by American commanders here, at least among themselves. While maintaining a stoic confidence in public, many of these commanders, over the past 18 months, have pressed behind the scenes for the Pentagon to move toward a more realistic appraisal of the war than has been common among major administration figures in Washington.

These generals contend the war is winnable, though they do not says so with the tone of certainty that Mr. Bush mustered Wednesday at Annapolis. But they recognize, privately, that for winning to be an achievable goal within the time frame that American politics is likely to allow, things that have rarely gone America's way so far will have to improve steadily over the next 6 to 12 months.

The war strategy that Mr. Bush outlined is one that the current group of top generals here developed in the wake of crisis in the spring of 2004. At that time, the abrupt halting of a Marine offensive in Falluja, ordered by Washington after heavy Iraqi civilian casualties, left the city in the control of Islamic militants who promptly began an orgy of kidnapping and beheading. The failure in Falluja, just 25 miles west of Baghdad, became a hallmark of what many saw as the muddled American handling of the war.

Shortly after formal Iraqi sovereignty was restored in June last year, a new American commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., joined with a new American ambassador, John D. Negroponte, to order a complete review of the way the Iraq war was being fought.

At that point, officers involved in the review have acknowledged, the war on the ground, with insurgents running rampant in Falluja and elsewhere, bore little relationship to what one senior commander called the "illusionist" version put out by the American occupation authority, or by Mr. Bush and other top officials in Washington.

Now, American commanders say they believe they have a strategy that can win the war, if anything can. They have concentrated American forces for a series of offensives aimed at regaining control of strategic cities like Falluja - recaptured from the insurgents in a bloody offensive last November - and denying insurgent infiltrators safe havens in towns along the Syrian border. In Baghdad and other major cities, they have mounted a relentless campaign to track down, kill and capture Islamic militants whose bombing campaigns were killing as many as 600 Iraqis a month - and making headlines in the United States that eroded public support for the war.

Most important, the American commanders have poured resources into building up the Iraqi forces, with results Mr. Bush laid out Wednesday. From the single Iraqi battalion trained in the summer of 2004, there are nearly 120 army and police combat battalions deployed now. All major American-led offensives involve Iraqi troops, and more than 20 American bases, including Saddam Hussein's 1,000-acre palace complex in Tikrit, have been handed back to the Iraqis. The process of withdrawing American troops from the cities to more remote bases where they are less visible to Iraqis, but still available for rapid deployment when needed, has begun.

American generals have been telling field commanders to hasten the process of transferring the main burden of the war to Iraqi troops by withholding American firepower, forcing Iraqi commanders to get accustomed to the idea that they will ultimately have to win the war. "It's our nature as Americans to tell others to step aside, let us do the job," one of the most senior American generals told brigade-level officers of the 101st Airborne Division earlier this month at a camp near Bayji, a strategic city 150 miles north of Baghdad. "We need a conscious effort here to do less, so the Iraqis do more."

Encoded in this formula is something Mr. Bush did not say: that turning the war over to the Iraqis carries large risks.

The scope of the problem was evident on Wednesday at the border town of Husayba, where General Casey joined Iraq's defense minister, Saadoun al-Dulaimi, for a ceremony that handed responsibility for controlling 350 miles of Iraq's border with Syria to a force of 700 Iraqi border police officers. They will staff a string of 30 forts, each about 10 miles apart, in the effort to halt insurgent infiltrators. Troops of the Second Marine Division will remain in the area until May, bolstering the border patrols, before they rotate back to the United States.

Mr. Dulaimi described the handover as hastening the day when American troops can withdraw from Iraq. But the Marine officer who has led the Iraqi border units' training, Col. Mike Pannell, told reporters at the ceremony that the Iraqis, while "very aggressive," still had much to do to reach American standards.

In its tentativeness, his estimate of the Iraqis' success could stand for the wider goal of handing the war over to the Iraqis.

"If they keep progressing as they have, they should be able to operate independently by the time we leave," he said.

    For Once, President and His Generals See the Same War, NYT, 1.12.2005,







-Military and civilian deaths in Iraq


Wed Nov 30, 2005
11:31 AM ET


(Reuters) - Two U.S. soldiers were killed on Tuesday when their patrol struck a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The following are the latest figures for military deaths in the Iraq campaign since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, in line with the most recent information from the U.S. military.




United States 2,110

Britain 98

Other nations 94




MILITARY Between 4,895 and 6,370#

CIVILIANS Between 27,115 and 30,559*

# = Think-tank estimates for military under Saddam killed during the 2003 war. No reliable official figures have been issued since security forces were set up in late 2003.

* = From www.iraqbodycount.net, run by academics and peace activists, based on reports from at least two media sources.

    FACTBOX-Military and civilian deaths in Iraq, R, 30.11.2005,







-Bush quotes on outlook in Iraq


Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:42 AM ET


(Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that improvements in Iraqi security forces may clear the way for a reduction in U.S. troop levels in Iraq. Following are some of his comments on the outlook for the war since the March, 2003, U.S.-led invasion.




"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country."




"What I was saying is there's more than just terrorist attacks that are taking place in Iraq. There's schools opening, there are hospitals opening. The electricity -- the capacity to deliver electricity to the Iraqi people is back up to pre-war levels. ... I know it's a dangerous place. And I also know our strategy to rout them out -- which is to encourage better intelligence and get more Iraqis involved, and have our strike teams ready to move -- is the right strategy."




"The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has always been willing to do what it takes for what is right ... As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear. They are trying to shake the will of our country and our friends, but the United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins ... Month by month, Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for their own security and their own future."




"We are safer -- we are safer and the world is better off because Saddam is sitting in a prison cell ... There must be a compelling national need to put our troops into harm's way. I felt that. I felt we had a compelling national need. I know we had tried diplomacy. I knew that diplomacy at this point couldn't possibly work because he had no intention of listening to demands of the free world. And when you put your troops in harm's way, you better have the best -- the best equipment, the best support, and the best possible pay."




"We're optimistic that more and more Iraqi troops are becoming better trained to fight the terrorists. We're optimistic about the constitutional process. There is a political track that's moving forward in parallel with the security track. No question about -- it's difficult ... But nevertheless, progress is being made, and the defeat of the enemy -- and they will be defeated -- will be accelerated by the progress on the ground in Iraq that -- the establishment of a democratic state that listens to the hopes and aspirations of all the people in Iraq will lead to the defeat of this enemy."




"Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. We've made progress, but we have a lot of -- a lot more work to do. Today Iraqi security forces are at different levels of readiness ... We're building up Iraqi security forces as quickly as possible, so they can assume the lead in defeating the terrorists and insurgents."




"We're making progress toward peace. We're making progress toward an ally that will join us in the war on terror, that will prevent al Qaeda from establishing safe haven in Iraq, and a country that will serve as an example for others who aspire to live in freedom."




"In World War II, victory came when the empire of Japan surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri. In Iraq, there will not be a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship. Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation. As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will take more responsibility for their security and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission. America will not abandon Iraq."

    FACTBOX-Bush quotes on outlook in Iraq, R, 30.11.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-11-30T164240Z_01_YUE060110_RTRUKOT_0_TEXT0.xml&related=true






President Outlines Strategy

for Victory in Iraq


For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
November 30, 2005

United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland
9:45 A.M. EST


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thanks, please be seated. Please be seated. Thanks for the warm welcome. It's good to be back at the Naval Academy. I'm pleased to provide a convenient excuse for you to miss class. (Applause.)

This is the first year that every class of midshipmen at this Academy arrived after the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. Each of you has volunteered to wear our nation's uniform in a time of war -- knowing all the risks and dangers that accompany military service. Our citizens are grateful for your devotion to duty -- and America is proud of the men and women of the United States Naval Academy. (Applause.)

I thank Admiral Rempt for his invitation for me to come and give this speech. I appreciate Admiral Mike Mullen. I'm traveling today with a man who's done a fine job as the Secretary of Defense -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (Applause.) Navy aviator, Don Rumsfeld. (Applause.) I'm proud that the Governor of the great state of Maryland, Bob Ehrlich, and his wife, Kendel, is with us. Thanks for being here, Governor. (Applause.)

I so appreciate that members of the United States Congress have joined us, starting with the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John Warner of the state of Virginia. (Applause.) Former Secretary of the United States Navy, I might add. (Applause.) Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Congressman Pete Hoekstra. (Applause.) From the state of Arizona, Congressman John Shadegg. (Applause.) And from the state of Indiana, Congressman Mike Pence. (Applause.) I'm honored you all came, thanks for being here.

I appreciate the Mayor of the city of Annapolis, Mayor Ellen Moyer, joining us. I want to thank all the state and local officials. I want to thank the faculty members here. Thank you all for letting me come by. (Applause.)

Six months ago, I came here to address the graduating class of 2005. I spoke to them about the importance of their service in the first war of the 21st century -- the global war on terror. I told the class of 2005 that four years at this Academy had prepared them morally, mentally and physically for the challenges ahead. And now they're meeting those challenges as officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

Some of your former classmates are training with Navy SEAL teams that will storm terrorist safe houses in lightning raids. Others are preparing to lead Marine rifle platoons that will hunt the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraqi cities. Others are training as naval aviators who will fly combat missions over the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. Still others are training as sailors and submariners who will deliver the combat power of the United States to the farthest regions of the world -- and deliver compassionate assistance to those suffering from natural disasters. Whatever their chosen mission, every graduate of the class of 2005 is bringing honor to the uniform -- and helping to bring us victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)

In the years ahead, you'll join them in the fight. Your service is needed, because our nation is engaged in a war that is being fought on many fronts -- from the streets of Western cities, to the mountains of Afghanistan, the islands of Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. This war is going to take many turns, and the enemy must be defeated on every battlefield. Yet the terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity, and so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.

As we fight the enemy in Iraq, every man and woman who volunteers to defend our nation deserves an unwavering commitment to the mission -- and a clear strategy for victory. A clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists. The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein -- and they reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group.

Not all Sunnis fall into the rejectionist camp. Of those that do, most are not actively fighting us -- but some give aid and comfort to the enemy. Many Sunnis boycotted the January elections -- yet as democracy takes hold in Iraq, they are recognizing that opting out of the democratic process has hurt their interests. And today, those who advocate violent opposition are being increasingly isolated by Sunnis who choose peaceful participation in the democratic process. Sunnis voted in the recent constitutional referendum in large numbers -- and Sunni coalitions have formed to compete in next month's elections -- or, this month's elections. We believe that, over time, most rejectionists will be persuaded to support a democratic Iraq led by a federal government that is a strong enough government to protect minority rights.

The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller, but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein -- people who still harbor dreams of returning to power. These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment amongst the larger Sunni community. They lack popular support and therefore cannot stop Iraq's democratic progress. And over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by the Iraqi people and the security forces of a free Iraq.

The third group is the smallest, but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda . Many are foreigners who are coming to fight freedom's progress in Iraq. This group includes terrorists from Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and Iran, and Egypt, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Libya, and other countries. Our commanders believe they're responsible for most of the suicide bombings, and the beheadings, and the other atrocities we see on our television.

They're led by a brutal terrorist named Zarqawi -- al Qaeda's chief of operations in Iraq -- who has pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Their objective is to drive the United States and coalition forces out of Iraq, and use the vacuum that would be created by an American retreat to gain control of that country. They would then use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America, and overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and try to establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain. That's their stated objective. That's what their leadership has said.

These terrorists have nothing to offer the Iraqi people. All they have is the capacity and the willingness to kill the innocent and create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will to achieve their stated objectives. They will fail. America's will is strong. And they will fail because the will to power is no match for the universal desire to live in liberty. (Applause.)

The terrorists in Iraq share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th. Those terrorists share the same ideology with those who blew up commuters in London and Madrid, murdered tourists in Bali, workers in Riyadh, and guests at a wedding in Amman, Jordan. Just last week, they massacred Iraqi children and their parents at a toy give-away outside an Iraqi hospital.

This is an enemy without conscience -- and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. Against this adversary, there is only one effective response: We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)

To achieve victory over such enemies, we are pursuing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq. Americans should have a clear understanding of this strategy -- how we look at the war, how we see the enemy, how we define victory, and what we're doing to achieve it. So today, we're releasing a document called the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." This is an unclassified version of the strategy we've been pursuing in Iraq, and it is posted on the White House website -- whitehouse.gov. I urge all Americans to read it.

Our strategy in Iraq has three elements. On the political side, we know that free societies are peaceful societies, so we're helping the Iraqis build a free society with inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis. We're working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq -- and to marginalize those who never will. On the security side, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offensive against the enemy, cleaning out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives.

As we fight the terrorists, we're working to build capable and effective Iraqi security forces, so they can take the lead in the fight -- and eventually take responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens without major foreign assistance.

And on the economic side, we're helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. In doing all this we have involved the United Nations, other international organizations, our coalition partners, and supportive regional states in helping Iraqis build their future.

In the days ahead, I'll be discussing the various pillars of our strategy in Iraq. Today, I want to speak in depth about one aspect of this strategy that will be critical to victory in Iraq -- and that's the training of Iraqi security forces. To defeat the terrorists and marginalize the Saddamists and rejectionists, Iraqis need strong military and police forces. Iraqi troops bring knowledge and capabilities to the fight that coalition forces cannot.

Iraqis know their people, they know their language, and they know their culture -- and they know who the terrorists are. Iraqi forces are earning the trust of their countrymen -- who are willing to help them in the fight against the enemy. As the Iraqi forces grow in number, they're helping to keep a better hold on the cities taken from the enemy. And as the Iraqi forces grow more capable, they are increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists. Our goal is to train enough Iraqi forces so they can carry the fight -- and this will take time and patience. And it's worth the time, and it's worth the effort -- because Iraqis and Americans share a common enemy, and when that enemy is defeated in Iraq, Americans will be safer here at home. (Applause.)

The training of the Iraqi security forces is an enormous task, and it always hasn't gone smoothly. We all remember the reports of some Iraqi security forces running from the fight more than a year ago. Yet in the past year, Iraqi forces have made real progress. At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi battalions ready for combat. Now, there are over 120 Iraqi Army and Police combat battalions in the fight against the terrorists -- typically comprised of between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces. Of these, about 80 Iraqi battalions are fighting side-by-side with coalition forces, and about 40 others are taking the lead in the fight. Most of these 40 battalions are controlling their own battle space, and conducting their own operations against the terrorists with some coalition support -- and they're helping to turn the tide of this struggle in freedom's favor. America and our troops are proud to stand with the brave Iraqi fighters. (Applause.)

The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year's assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army -- with six Iraqi battalions supporting them. The Iraqis fought and sustained casualties. Yet in most situations, the Iraqi role was limited to protecting the flanks of coalition forces, and securing ground that had already been cleared by our troops. This year in TAL Afar, it was a very different story.

The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces -- 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support. Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battle space -- hunting for enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods block-by-block. To consolidate their military success, Iraqi units stayed behind to help maintain law and order -- and reconstruction projects have been started to improve infrastructure and create jobs and provide hope.

One of the Iraqi soldiers who fought in TAL Afar was a private named Tarek Hazem. This brave Iraqi fighter says, "We're not afraid. We're here to protect our country. All we feel is motivated to kill the terrorists." Iraqi forces not only cleared the city, they held it. And because of the skill and courage of the Iraqi forces, the citizens of TAL Afar were able to vote in October's constitutional referendum.

As Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead in the fight against the terrorists, they're also taking control of more and more Iraqi territory. At this moment, over 30 Iraqi Army battalions have assumed primary control of their own areas of responsibility. In Baghdad, Iraqi battalions have taken over major sectors of the capital -- including some of the city's toughest neighborhoods. Last year, the area around Baghdad's Haifa Street was so thick with terrorists that it earned the nickname "Purple Heart Boulevard." Then Iraqi forces took responsibility for this dangerous neighborhood -- and attacks are now down.

Our coalition has handed over roughly 90 square miles of Baghdad province to Iraqi security forces. Iraqi battalions have taken over responsibility for areas in South-Central Iraq, sectors of Southeast Iraq, sectors of Western Iraq, and sectors of North-Central Iraq. As Iraqi forces take responsibility for more of their own territory, coalition forces can concentrate on training Iraqis and hunting down high-value targets, like the terrorist Zarqawi and his associates.

We're also transferring forward operating bases to Iraqi control. Over a dozen bases in Iraq have been handed over to the Iraqi government -- including Saddam Hussein's former palace in Tikrit, which has served as the coalition headquarters in one of Iraq's most dangerous regions. From many of these bases, the Iraqi security forces are planning and executing operations against the terrorists -- and bringing security and pride to the Iraqi people.

Progress by the Iraqi security forces has come, in part, because we learned from our earlier experiences and made changes in the way we help train Iraqi troops. When our coalition first arrived, we began the process of creating an Iraqi Army to defend the country from external threats, and an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to help provide the security within Iraq's borders. The civil defense forces did not have sufficient firepower or training -- they proved to be no match for an enemy armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars. So the approach was adjusted. Working with Iraq's leaders, we moved the civil defense forces into the Iraqi Army, we changed the way they're trained and equipped, and we focused the Army's mission on defeating those fighting against a free Iraq, whether internal or external.

Now, all Iraqi Army recruits receive about the same length of basic training as new recruits in the U.S. Army -- a five-week core course, followed by an additional three-to-seven weeks of specialized training. With coalition help, Iraqis have established schools for the Iraqi military services, an Iraqi military academy, a non-commissioned officer academy, a military police school, a bomb disposal school -- and NATO has established an Iraqi Joint Staff College. There's also an increased focus on leadership training, with professional development courses for Iraqi squad leaders and platoon sergeants and warrant officers and sergeants-major. A new generation of Iraqi officers is being trained, leaders who will lead their forces with skill -- so they can defeat the terrorists and secure their freedom.

Similar changes have taken place in the training of the Iraqi police. When our coalition first arrived, Iraqi police recruits spent too much time of their training in classroom lectures -- and they received limited training in the use of small arms. This did not adequately prepare the fight they would face. And so we changed the way the Iraqi police are trained. Now, police recruits spend more of their time outside the classroom with intensive hands-on training in anti-terrorism operations and real-world survival skills.

Iraq has now six basic police academies, and one in Jordan, that together produce over 3,500 new police officers every ten weeks. The Baghdad police academy has simulation models where Iraqis train to stop IED attacks and operate roadblocks. And because Iraqi police are not just facing common criminals, they are getting live-fire training with the AK-47s.

As more and more skilled Iraqi security forces have come online, there's been another important change in the way new Iraqi recruits are trained. When the training effort began, nearly all the trainers came from coalition countries. Today, the vast majority of Iraqi police and army recruits are being taught by Iraqi instructors. By training the trainers, we're helping Iraqis create an institutional capability that will allow the Iraqi forces to continue to develop and grow long after coalition forces have left Iraq.

As the training has improved, so has the quality of the recruits being trained. Even though the terrorists are targeting Iraqi police and army recruits, there is no shortage of Iraqis who are willing to risk their lives to secure the future of a free Iraq.

The efforts to include more Sunnis in the future of Iraq were given a significant boost earlier this year. More than 60 influential Sunni clerics issued a fatwa calling on young Sunnis to join the Iraqi security forces, "for the sake of preserving the souls, property and honor" of the Iraqi people. These religious leaders are helping to make the Iraqi security forces a truly national institution -- one that is able to serve, protect and defend all the Iraqi people.

Some critics dismiss this progress and point to the fact that only one Iraqi battalion has achieved complete independence from the coalition. To achieve complete independence, an Iraqi battalion must do more than fight the enemy on its own -- it must also have the ability to provide its own support elements, including logistics, airlift, intelligence, and command and control through their ministries. Not every Iraqi unit has to meet this level of capability in order for the Iraqi security forces to take the lead in the fight against the enemy. As a matter of fact, there are some battalions from NATO militaries that would not be able to meet this standard. The facts are that Iraqi units are growing more independent and more capable; they are defending their new democracy with courage and determination. They're in the fight today, and they will be in the fight for freedom tomorrow. (Applause.)

We're also helping Iraqis build the institutions they need to support their own forces. For example, a national depot has been established north of Baghdad that is responsible for supplying the logistical needs of the ten divisions of the Iraqi Army. Regional support units and base support units have been created across the country with the mission of supplying their own war fighters. Iraqis now have a small Air Force, that recently conducted its first combat airlift operations -- bringing Iraqi troops to the front in TAL Afar. The new Iraqi Navy is now helping protect the vital ports of Basra and Umm Qasr. An Iraqi military intelligence school has been established to produce skilled Iraqi intelligence analysts and collectors. By taking all these steps, we're helping the Iraqi security forces become self-supporting so they can take the fight to the enemy, and so they can sustain themselves in the fight.

Over the past two and a half years, we've faced some setbacks in standing up a capable Iraqi security force -- and their performance is still uneven in some areas. Yet many of those forces have made real gains over the past year -- and Iraqi soldiers take pride in their progress. An Iraqi first lieutenant named Shoqutt describes the transformation of his unit this way: "I really think we've turned the corner here. At first, the whole country didn't take us seriously. Now things are different. Our guys are hungry to demonstrate their skill and to show the world."

Our troops in Iraq see the gains that Iraqis are making. Lieutenant Colonel Todd Wood of Richmond Hill, Georgia, is training Iraqi forces in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. He says this about the Iraqi units he is working with: "They're pretty much ready to go it on their own ... What they're doing now would have been impossible a year ago ... These guys are patriots, willing to go out knowing the insurgents would like nothing better than to kill them and their families ... They're getting better, and they'll keep getting better."

Our commanders on the ground see the gains the Iraqis are making. General Marty Dempsey is the commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command. Here's what he says about the transformation of the Iraqi security forces: "It's beyond description. They are far better equipped, far better trained" than they once were. The Iraqis, General Dempsey says, are "increasingly in control of their future and their own security _ the Iraqi security forces are regaining control of the country."

As the Iraqi security forces stand up, their confidence is growing and they are taking on tougher and more important missions on their own. As the Iraqi security forces stand up, the confidence of the Iraqi people is growing -- and Iraqis are providing the vital intelligence needed to track down the terrorists. And as the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down -- and when our mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will return home to a proud nation. (Applause.)

This is a goal our Iraqi allies share. An Iraqi Army Sergeant named Abbass Abdul Jabar puts it this way: "We have to help the coalition forces as much as we can to give them a chance to go home. These guys have been helping us. [Now] we have to protect our own families." America will help the Iraqis so they can protect their families and secure their free nation. We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. If our military leaders tell me we need more troops, I will send them.

For example, we have increased our force levels in Iraq to 160,000 -- up from 137,000 -- in preparation for the December elections. My commanders tell me that as Iraqi forces become more capable, the mission of our forces in Iraq will continue to change. We will continue to shift from providing security and conducting operations against the enemy nationwide, to conducting more specialized operations targeted at the most dangerous terrorists. We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys.

As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists. These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders -- not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington. (Applause.)

Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. Many advocating an artificial timetable for withdrawing our troops are sincere -- but I believe they're sincerely wrong. Pulling our troops out before they've achieved their purpose is not a plan for victory. As Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would "discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists, it will confuse the Iraqi people."

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies -- that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder -- and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

And as we train Iraqis to take more responsibility in the battle with the terrorists, we're also helping them build a democracy that is worthy of their sacrifice. And in just over two-and-a-half years, the Iraqi people have made incredible progress on the road to lasting freedom. Iraqis have gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant, to liberation, free elections, and a democratic constitution -- and in 15 days they will go to the polls to elect a fully constitutional government that will lead them for the next four years.

With each ballot cast, the Iraqi people have sent a clear message to the terrorists: Iraqis will not be intimidated. The Iraqi people will determine the destiny of their country. The future of Iraq belongs to freedom. Despite the costs, the pain, and the danger, Iraqis are showing courage and are moving forward to build a free society and a lasting democracy in the heart of the Middle East -- and the United States of America will help them succeed. (Applause.)

Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, "stay the course." If by "stay the course," they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by "stay the course," they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America -- they are right, as well. If by "stay the course" they mean that we're not learning from our experiences, or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong. As our top commander in Iraq, General Casey, has said, "Our commanders on the ground are continuously adapting and adjusting, not only to what the enemy does, but also to try to out-think the enemy and get ahead of him." Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic; we have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy. (Applause.)

Victory in Iraq will demand the continued determination and resolve of the American people. It will also demand the strength and personal courage of the men and women who wear our nation's uniform. And as the future officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, you're preparing to join this fight. You do so at a time when there is a vigorous debate about the war in Iraq. I know that for our men and women in uniform, this debate can be unsettling -- when you're risking your life to accomplish a mission, the last thing you want to hear is that mission being questioned in our nation's capital. I want you to know that while there may be a lot of heated rhetoric in Washington, D.C., one thing is not in dispute: The American people stand behind you.

And we should not fear the debate in Washington. It's one of the great strengths of our democracy that we can discuss our differences openly and honestly -- even at times of war. Your service makes that freedom possible. And today, because of the men and women in our military, people are expressing their opinions freely in the streets of Baghdad, as well.

Most Americans want two things in Iraq: They want to see our troops win, and they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. And those are my goals as well. I will settle for nothing less than complete victory. In World War II, victory came when the Empire of Japan surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri. In Iraq, there will not be a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship. Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation.

As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will take more responsibility for their security, and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission. America will not abandon Iraq. We will not turn that country over to the terrorists and put the American people at risk. Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the Middle East -- and this will add to the security of the American people.

In the short run, we're going to bring justice to our enemies. In the long run, the best way to ensure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East. We've seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before. In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed -- and today Germany and Japan are democracies and they are allies in securing the peace. In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Eastern and Central Europe from Soviet domination -- and today these nations are allies in the war on terror.

Today in the Middle East freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom, and as democracy spreads in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace. (Applause.)

Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq. Freedom's victory in that country will inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, and spread hope across a troubled region, and lift a terrible threat from the lives of our citizens. By strengthening Iraqi democracy, we will gain a partner in the cause of peace and moderation in the Muslim world, and an ally in the worldwide struggle against -- against the terrorists. Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation -- and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans. We will meet the challenge of our time. We will answer history's call with confidence -- because we know that freedom is the destiny of every man, woman and child on this earth. (Applause.)

Before our mission in Iraq is accomplished, there will be tough days ahead. A time of war is a time of sacrifice, and we've lost some very fine men and women in this war on terror. Many of you know comrades and classmates who left our shores to defend freedom and who did not live to make the journey home. We pray for the military families who mourn the loss of loves ones. We hold them in our hearts -- and we honor the memory of every fallen soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine.

One of those fallen heroes is a Marine Corporal named Jeff Starr, who was killed fighting the terrorists in Ramadi earlier this year. After he died, a letter was found on his laptop computer. Here's what he wrote, he said, "[I]f you're reading this, then I've died in Iraq. I don't regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so they can live the way we live. Not [to] have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators_. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

There is only one way to honor the sacrifice of Corporal Starr and his fallen comrades -- and that is to take up their mantle, carry on their fight, and complete their mission. (Applause.)

We will take the fight to the terrorists. We will help the Iraqi people lay the foundations of a strong democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq, we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

You all are the ones who will help accomplish all this. Our freedom and our way of life are in your hands -- and they're in the best of hands. I want to thank you for your service in the cause of freedom. I want to thank you for wearing the uniform. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 10:28 A.M. EST

    President Outlines Strategy for Victory in Iraq, White House, 30.11.2005,






Bush to Outline Broad Iraq Plan;

Push on Training


November 30, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - President Bush on Wednesday will put forward for the first time a public version of what the White House calls a comprehensive strategy for victory in Iraq.

In a related effort to begin extricating American forces next year, military officials said Tuesday that they would seek billions of additional dollars to better train Iraqis to defend the country.

The military officials in Iraq said they had requested $3.9 billion for next year to help train and equip Iraqi troops, build new police stations and outfit Iraqi soldiers with new uniforms.

That amount would be part of a larger spending request to Congress for the overall war effort and is on top of the $10.6 billion that lawmakers have already approved to rebuild Iraq's security forces.

Mr. Bush continued to emphasize that American forces cannot withdraw before their job is done.

"I want our troops to come home, but I don't want them to come home without having achieved victory," he said in brief comments to reporters in El Paso during a visit to the Mexican border. "And we've got a strategy for victory." The president was describing a speech he plans to give Wednesday at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, too, emphasized the imperative for Iraqis to gain control of their country, echoing the thought that instead of "an exit strategy, we should be focused on our strategy for victory."

The catchphrase will reappear Wednesday morning in a document elaborating on Mr. Bush's speech, titled "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

Taken together, the activities amount to a carefully calibrated effort to answer critics, including Democratic leaders in Congress who have argued that Mr. Bush has no plausible plan for bringing home the nearly 160,000 troops engaged in a war against the insurgency.

As Mr. Bush returned from Asia last week and flew home to the debate in Congress over the American presence, administration officials have begun to acknowledge that the levels of forces and spending may be politically unsustainable.

The White House said that the strategy to be outlined Wednesday was not new, but that it had never been assembled into a single unclassified document. As the 27-page booklet was described by administration officials, much of it sounded like a list of goals for Iraq's military, political and economic development rather than new prescriptions on how to accomplish the job.

The Pentagon now spends $6 billion a month to sustain the American military presence in Iraq. A senior administration official said Mr. Bush's ultimate goal, to which he assigned no schedule, is to move to a "smaller, more lethal" American force that "can be just as successful."

It is unclear how much of that vision Mr. Bush will explicitly describe Wednesday, in the first of four speeches about the Iraqi transition that he plans to give before the election of a long-term Iraqi government on Dec. 15.

Aides said Mr. Bush would argue that although he is determined to stay his course and that to withdraw precipitously would invite disaster, American tactics have already been refashioned to confront the insurgency more effectively. Since landmark elections this year, the attacks have continued to inflict death and injury on Iraqis and Americans alike.

"He is going to talk about victory in Iraq in the short term, the medium term and the long term," said an official familiar with the speech, which was redrafted on Tuesday.

The president will describe the short-term objective as "defeating terrorists, building institutions, meeting political milestones and standing up security forces," the official said.

Without claiming that the victory he seeks is already at hand, the president will argue that Iraq is already moving into a new phase, providing its own security and establishing a permanent government.

"The long-term vision is a peaceful, democratic, united nation that is well integrated and a full partner in the war on terror," the official said.

Despite the new emphasis, Pentagon officials and senior commanders in Iraq no longer talk in terms of outright military victory in the sense of eliminating all resistance. Rather they discuss what Mr. Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon on Tuesday was a "coalition strategy to help the Iraqi people increasingly take control of their country."

He responded sharply to suggestions that United States troops alone would carry out a military strategy to "clear, hold and build" in towns and other territory formerly controlled by insurgents. The phrase has been adopted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Mr. Bush is expected to repeat it on Wednesday.

"Anyone who takes those three words and thinks it means the United States should clear and the United States should hold and the United States should build doesn't understand the situation," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters. "It is Iraq's country, 28 million of them. They are perfectly capable of running that country. They're not going to run it the way you would or I would or the way we do here in this country, but they're going to run it.

"Our problem is that any time something needs to be done, we have a feeling we should rush in and fill the vacuum and do it ourselves. You know what happens when you do that? First of all, you can't do it, because it's not our country. It's their country. And the second thing that happens is they don't develop the skills and the ability and the equipment and the orientation and the habit patterns of doing it for themselves. They have to do it for themselves."

Mr. Bush is expected to define his other goals in a concise triptych, as well. One is for the reconstruction, which is badly behind schedule and short of money, to be an effort to "restore, reform and build." The political effort, he is expected to declare, is an effort to "isolate terrorists, engage and build institutions."

"This clearly is not the level of specificity some people are going to want to see in a plan," another administration official said. "But it is a lot more than has been said before."

Another official said the publication of the strategy paper had been under way for more than a month and involved declassifying parts of a larger strategy that the White House and the Pentagon had used for some time.

In advance of Mr. Bush's speech, Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace of the Marines, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sought Tuesday to outline the progress that the Iraqi security forces had made in the last year. They said that the Iraqis had taken control of 29 of 110 military bases held by the Americans and had more than doubled the number of trained and equipped troops, to 212,000 soldiers and police commandos.

The Pentagon continues to rate about a third of those forces as able to take the lead in combat operations, with some American support, and several hundred Iraqi troops as capable of operating fully independently of American troops.

Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who was in the 82nd Airborne Division, told reporters on Tuesday by telephone that the Iraqi security forces still suffered from largely untested leaders, unproven loyalty to the government and fledgling ministries that were struggling to build the institutional support to sustain the troops in the field.

"Without an effective ministry that can keep track of soldiers and police, pay those soldiers and police, apply those soldiers and police and essentially provide the foundation, then you're going to have some tactically trained units, but they're not going to be a coherent or effective force," said Mr. Reed.

Echoing the complaints of many American commanders in Iraq who say the administration has relied too heavily on the military to restore security and stability in Iraq, Mr. Reed said Mr. Bush have to offer a more comprehensive approach.

"The president has to lay out in his speech how we're doing on the other aspects of progress, not just security forces, but creating a stable political structure and a stable environment, stable economy," he said.

Some of Mr. Bush's former and current advisers on Iraq say the president is entering new territory, perhaps even redefining what would constitute victory in Iraq.

"People have assumed that when he says 'stay the course' that means the tactics don't change," a senior aide said. "That's not the case. If you are suggesting that we have not had a dynamic, adaptive approach, you're wrong."

Mr. Bush will be careful not to describe what Mr. Rumsfeld called "metrics" of progress. Instead, the president will talk about the progress made in the past year by relying more on Iraqi troops.

"One of the points we are trying to convey is that you can't measure success by the number of boots on the ground," the official said. "We can probably work more effectively with a smaller footprint."

Senator Reed warned that reducing troop strength carried considerable risks. "To assume that our departure would stop the violence, I think, assumes too much, because there are still huge tensions within the country between sectarian groups," he said. "There will be a struggle for power. And that struggle might be even exacerbated if we were to pull out too quickly."

    Bush to Outline Broad Iraq Plan; Push on Training, NYT, 30.11.2005,






As Calls for an Iraq Pullout Rise,

Two Political Calendars Loom


November 28, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 - In public, President Bush has firmly dismissed the mounting calls to set a deadline to begin a withdrawal from Iraq, declaring eight days ago that there was only one test for when the time is right. "When our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom," he told American forces at Osan Air Base in South Korea, "our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

But in private conversations, American officials are beginning to acknowledge that a judgment about when withdrawals can begin is driven by two political calendars - one in Iraq and one here - as much as by those military assessments. The final decision, they said, could well hinge on whether the new Iraqi government, scheduled to be elected in less than three weeks, issues its own call for an American withdrawal. Last week, for the first time, Iraq's political factions, represented by about 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders, collectively called for a timetable for withdrawal.

As Mr. Bush ends his Thanksgiving holiday in Texas on Monday, both his own aides and American commanders say, he will begin confronting these sometimes conflicting military and political issues, including the midterm Congressional elections in this country, part of a delicate balancing action about how and when to begin extracting American troops from Iraq.

Mr. Bush is scheduled to give a speech in Annapolis, Md., on Wednesday assessing progress both in Iraq and in what he calls the broader war on terrorism, and several officials said he was expected to contend that the Iraqi forces have made great progress. But as it has been for the past two and a half years, it is unclear exactly what measuring sticks he is using, and whether they present the full picture.

White House aides insist that Mr. Bush is as determined as he sounds not to withdraw troops prematurely. They say he will begin examining the timing of a draw-down after he sees the outcome of the Dec. 15 election in Iraq.

But it is also clear that Mr. Bush is under new pressure to begin showing that troop reductions are under way before the midterm Congressional elections next year.

Suddenly a White House that was seemingly impervious to open questioning of its strategy feels the need to respond to criticisms - and to do so quickly. This weekend, The Washington Post published an op-ed article in which Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, called for a three-step process in Iraq to create a political settlement, deliver basic services and accelerate the training of troops. The White House responded immediately with a long press release, in a series called "Setting the Record Straight," suggesting that Mr. Biden had endorsed Mr. Bush's strategy - which is certainly not how Mr. Biden saw it.

Current and former White House officials acknowledge that they were surprised at how quickly calls for deadlines for the draw-down of troops, which mounted as Mr. Bush was away in Asia, had changed the tenor of the debate. They pointed out that the statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after Mr. Bush's return from Asia that Iraqi forces would be able to defend the country "fairly soon" appeared to presage a new tone.

"We've moved from 'if' to 'how fast,' " said one former aide with close ties to the National Security Council. He said officials in the Bush White House were already actively reviewing possible plans under which 40,000 to 50,000 troops or more could be recalled next year if "a plausible case could be made" that a significant number of Iraqi battalions could hold their own.

That effort may be aided by the fact that troop numbers in Iraq have climbed back to 160,000 in advance of the December vote. Senior Pentagon civilians and military officials are already discussing a move soon after the election to return to 138,000 troops, the status quo over much of the past year. But after that point, the American military expects to face two competing sets of pressures.

On one hand, senior officers are painfully aware that sustaining the current high level of troop deployments in Iraq risks undermining morale of those now in uniform - and already has poisoned the efforts of Army recruiters seeking to woo young Americans into military service.

At the same time, senior officers hear the bruising debate over Iraq policy back in Washington and have taken to counseling "strategic patience," arguing that 2006 will be a critical year in which a new government in Baghdad and local security forces should be able to take more of a lead in stabilizing their nation.

Officers fear that a hasty retreat driven by American domestic politics - and not conditions on the ground in Iraq - could invite greater violence or even civil war and that the American military would carry the blame for losing Iraq.

Senior Pentagon civilians and officers say the military is following standard practice and has drafted a number of plans with a range of options for Iraq.

Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, warned that a hasty withdrawal before Iraqi security forces are given a chance during 2006 to "achieve enough critical mass" and stand more on their own "will end in snatching defeat from the jaws of uncertainty." The top American commander in the Middle East has, since at least July, outlined a plan that would gradually reduce American forces in Iraq toward 100,000 by next spring, Pentagon and military officials said.

The commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, has not discussed that plan in public - and also has carefully avoided comment on the vitriolic debate that erupted between the White House and Congress. While the focus of the options that the Pentagon is drafting has been on dropping below 100,000 troops by the end of next year, contingency plans also deal with a possible demand by the new Iraqi government for a speedier American withdrawal and, at the other extreme, for requests to sustain troop levels, or even for another temporary increase, should Iraq risk falling into increased violence and anarchy.

Senior commanders see no short-term change in American military capacity on the ground in Iraq with the anticipated return to 138,000 troops after the election. Fresh assessments on altering the troop numbers - and the mix of capacities, from infantry to training units to civil affairs - are anticipated not long after the vote.

"Recommendations will be made here based on conditions on the ground," said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander of day-to-day military operations in Iraq. "Those conditions are the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces, the capability of the government to support those forces in the field, the state of the insurgency, and a whole range of conditions."

General Vines also acknowledged the political realities influencing troop reductions, saying, "The ultimate decision, of course, will be made as a policy level decision in Washington and other capitals."

The senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, on Sunday advocated setting a deadline for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, saying such a firm statement would force political compromise within the emerging leadership in Baghdad.

An open-ended American commitment "takes pressure off them to make the compromises that are necessary to make those changes in the Constitution," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "That's what we need to do. Put some pressure on them to make the political decisions that are so essential to becoming a nation."

On the NBC News program "Meet the Press," Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, argued against setting a timetable, but did urge President Bush to speak more often and directly to the American people about the mission.

"It would bring him closer to the people, dispel some of this concern that understandably our people have about the loss of life and limb, the enormous cost of this war to the American public, and we've got to stay firm for the next six months," Senator Warner said. "It is a critical period."

    As Calls for an Iraq Pullout Rise, Two Political Calendars Loom, NYT, 28.11.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/28/politics/28strategy.html






Coping With Combat

The Struggle to Gauge

a War's Psychological Cost


November 26, 2005
The New York Times


It was hardly a traditional therapist's office. The mortar fire was relentless, head-splitting, so close that it raised layers of rubble high off the floor of the bombed-out room.

Capt. William Nash, a Navy psychiatrist, sat on an overturned box of ready-made meals for the troops. He was in Iraq to try to short-circuit combat stress on the spot, before it became disabling, as part of the military's most determined effort yet to bring therapy to the front lines.

His clients, about a dozen young men desperate for help after weeks of living and fighting in Falluja, sat opposite him and told their stories.

One had been spattered with his best friend's blood and blamed himself for the death.

Another was also filled with guilt. He had hesitated while scouting an alley and had seen the man in front of him shot to death.

"They were so young," Captain Nash recalled.

At first, when they talked, he simply listened. Then he did his job, telling them that soldiers always blame themselves when someone is killed, in any war, always.

Grief, he told them, can make us forget how random war is, how much we have done to protect those we are fighting with.

"You try to help them tell a coherent story about what is happening, to make sense of it, so they feel less guilt and shame over protecting others, which is so common," said Captain Nash, who counseled the marines last November as part of the military's increased efforts to defuse psychological troubles.

He added, "You have to help them reconstruct the things they used to believe in that don't make sense anymore, like the basic goodness of humanity."

Military psychiatry has always been close to a contradiction in terms. Psychiatry aims to keep people sane; service in wartime makes demands that seem insane.

This war in particular presents profound mental stresses: unknown and often unseen enemies, suicide bombers, a hostile land with virtually no safe zone, no real front or rear. A 360-degree war, some call it, an asymmetrical battle space that threatens to injure troops' minds as well as their bodies.

But just how deep those mental wounds are, and how many will be disabled by them, are matters of controversy. Some experts suspect that the legacy of Iraq could echo that of Vietnam, when almost a third of returning military personnel reported significant, often chronic, psychological problems.

Others say the mental casualties will be much lower, given the resilience of today's troops and the sophistication of the military's psychological corps, which place therapists like Captain Nash into combat zones.

The numbers so far tell a mixed story. The suicide rate among soldiers was high in 2003 but fell significantly in 2004, according to two Army surveys among more than 2,000 soldiers and mental health support providers in Iraq. Morale rose in the same period, but 54 percent of the troops say morale is low or very low, the report found.

A continuing study of combat units that served in Iraq has found that about 17 percent of the personnel have shown serious symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder - characterized by intrusive thoughts, sleep loss and hyper-alertness, among other symptoms - in the first few months after returning from Iraq, a higher rate than in Afghanistan but thought to be lower than after Vietnam.

In interviews, many members of the armed services and psychologists who had completed extended tours in Iraq said they had battled feelings of profound grief, anger and moral ambiguity about the effect of their presence on Iraqi civilians.

And at bases back home, there have been violent outbursts among those who have completed tours. A marine from Camp Pendleton, Calif., has been convicted of murdering his girlfriend. And three members of a special forces unit based at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, have committed suicide.

Yet for returning service members, experts say, the question of whether their difficulties are ultimately diagnosed as mental illness may depend not only on the mental health services available, but also on the politics of military psychiatry itself, the definition of what a normal reaction to combat is and the story the nation tells itself about the purpose and value of soldiers' service.

"We must not ever diminish the pain and anguish many soldiers will feel; this kind of experience never leaves you," said David H. Marlowe, a former chief of military psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. "But at the same time we have to be careful not to create an attachment to that pain and anguish by pathologizing it."

The legacy of Iraq, Dr. Marlowe said, will depend as much on how service members are received and understood by the society they return to as on their exposure to the trauma of war.


Memories Still Haunt

The blood and fury of combat exhilarate some people and mentally scar others, for reasons no one understands.

On an October night in 2003, mortar shells fell on a base camp near Baquba, Iraq, where Specialist Abbie Pickett, then 21, was serving as a combat lifesaver, caring for the wounded. Specialist Pickett continued working all night by the dim blue light of a flashlight, "plugging and chugging" bleeding troops to a makeshift medical tent, she said.

At first, she did not notice that one of the medics who was working with her was bleeding heavily and near death; then, frantically, she treated his wounds and moved him to a medical station not knowing if he would survive.

He did survive, Specialist Pickett later learned. But the horror of that night is still vivid, and the memory stalks her even now, more than a year after she returned home.

"I would say that on a weekly basis I wish I would have died during that attack," said Specialist Pickett, who served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard and whose condition has been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. "You never want family to hear that, and it's a selfish thing to say. But I'm not a typical 23-year-old, and it's hard being a combat vet and a woman and figuring out where you fit in."

Each war produces its own traumatic syndrome. The trench warfare of World War I produced the shaking and partial paralysis known as shell shock. The long tours and heavy fighting of World War II induced in many young men the numbed exhaustion that was called combat fatigue.

But it is post-traumatic stress disorder, a diagnosis some psychiatrists intended to characterize the mental struggles of Vietnam veterans, that now dominates the study and description of war trauma.

The diagnosis has always been controversial. Few experts doubt that close combat can cause a lingering hair-trigger alertness and play on a person's conscience for a lifetime. But no one knows what level of trauma is necessary to produce a disabling condition or who will become disabled.

The largest study of Vietnam veterans found that about 30 percent of them had post-traumatic stress disorder in the 20 years after the war but that only a fraction of those service members had had combat roles. Another study of Vietnam veterans, done around the same time, found that the lifetime rate of the syndrome was half as high, 15 percent.

And since Vietnam, therapists have diagnosed the disorder in crime victims, disaster victims, people who have witnessed disasters, even those who have seen upsetting events on television. The disorder varies widely depending on the individual and the nature of the trauma, psychiatrists say, but they cannot yet predict how.

Yet the very pervasiveness of post-traumatic stress disorder as a concept shapes not only how researchers study war trauma but also how many soldiers describe their reactions to combat.

Specialist Pickett, for example, has struggled with the intrusive memories typical of post-traumatic stress and with symptoms of depression and a seething resentment over her service, partly because of what she describes as irresponsible leaders and a poorly defined mission. Her memories make good bar stories, she said, but they also follow her back to her apartment, where the combination of anxiety and uncertainty about the value of her service has at times made her feel as if she were losing her mind.

Richard J. McNally, a psychologist at Harvard, said, "It's very difficult to know whether a new kind of syndrome will emerge from this war for the simple reason that the instrument used to assess soldiers presupposes that it will look like P.T.S.D. from Vietnam."

A more thorough assessment, Dr. McNally said, "might ask not only about guilt, shame and the killing of noncombatants, but about camaraderie, leadership, devotion to the mission, about what is meaningful and worthwhile, as well as the negative things."

Sitting amid the broken furniture in his Falluja "office," Captain Nash represents the military's best effort to handle stress on the ground, before it becomes upsetting, and keep service members on the job with the others in their platoon or team, who provide powerful emotional support.

While the military deployed mental health experts in Vietnam, most stayed behind the lines. In part because of that war's difficult legacy, the military has increased the proportion of field therapists and put them closer to the action than ever before.

The Army says it has about 200 mental health workers for a force of about 150,000, including combat stress units that travel to combat zones when called on. The Marines are experimenting with a program in which the therapists stationed at a base are deployed with battalions in the field.

"The idea is simple," said Lt. Cmdr. Gary Hoyt, a Navy psychologist and colleague of Captain Nash in the Marine program. "You have a lot more credibility if you've been there, and soldiers and marines are more likely to talk to you."

Commander Hoyt has struggled with irritability and heightened alertness since returning from Iraq in September 2004.

Psychologists and psychiatrists on the ground have to break through the mental toughness that not only keeps troops fighting but also prevents them from seeking psychological help, which is viewed as a sign of weakness. And they have been among the first to identify the mental reactions particular to this war.

One of them, these experts say, is profound, unreleased anger. Unlike in Vietnam, where service members served shorter tours and were rotated in and out of the country individually, troops in Iraq have deployed as units and tend to have trained together as full-time military or in the Reserves or the National Guard. Group cohesion is strong, and the bonds only deepen in the hostile desert terrain of Iraq.

For these tight-knit groups, certain kinds of ambushes - roadside bombs, for instance - can be mentally devastating, for a variety of reasons.

"These guys go out in convoys, and boom: the first vehicle gets hit, their best friend dies, and now they're seeing life flash before them and get a surge of adrenaline and want to do something," said Lt. Col. Alan Peterson, an Air Force psychologist who completed a tour in Iraq last year. "But often there's nothing they can do. There's no enemy there."

Many, Colonel Peterson said, become deeply frustrated because "they wish they could act out on this adrenaline rush and do what they were trained to do but can't."

Some soldiers and marines describe foot patrols as "drawing fire," and gunmen so often disappear into crowds that many have the feeling that they are fighting ghosts. In roadside ambushes, service men and women may never see the enemy.

Sgt. Benjamin Flanders, 27, a graduate student in math who went to Iraq with the New Hampshire National Guard, recalled: "It was kind of a joke: if you got to shoot back at the enemy, people were jealous. It was a stress reliever, a great release, because usually these guys disappear."

Another powerful factor is ambiguity about the purpose of the mission, and about Iraqi civilians' perception of the American presence.

On a Sunday in April 2004, Commander Hoyt received orders to visit Marine units that had been trapped in a firefight in a town near the Syrian border and that had lost five men. The Americans had been handing out candy to children and helping residents fix their houses the day before the ambush, and they felt they had been set up, he said.

The entire unit, he said, was coursing with rage, asking: "What are we doing here? Why aren't the Iraqis helping us?"

Commander Hoyt added, "There was a breakdown, and some wanted to know how come they couldn't hit mosques" or other off-limits targets where insurgents were suspected of hiding.

In group sessions, the psychologist emphasized to the marines that they could not know for sure whether the civilians they had helped had supported the insurgents. Insurgent fighters scare many Iraqis more than the Americans do, he reminded them, and that fear creates a deep ambivalence, even among those who most welcome the American presence. And following the rules of engagement, he told them, was crucial to setting an example.

Commander Hoyt also reminded the group of some of its successes, in rebuilding houses, for example, and restoring electricity in the area. He also told them it was better to fight in Iraq than back home.

"Having someone killed in World War II, you could say, 'Well, we won this battle to save the world,' " he said. "In this terrorist war, it is much less tangible how to anchor your losses."


Help in Adjusting to Life at Home

No one has shown definitively that on-the-spot group or individual therapy in combat lowers the risk of psychological problems later. But military psychiatrists know from earlier wars that separating an individual from his or her unit can significantly worsen feelings of guilt and depression.

About 8 service members per every 1,000 in Iraq have developed psychiatric problems severe enough to require evacuation, according to Defense Department statistics, while the rate of serious psychiatric diagnoses in Vietnam from 1965 to 1969 was more than 10 per 1,000, although improvements in treatment, as well as differences in the conflicts and diagnostic criteria, make a direct comparison very rough.

At the same time, Captain Nash and Commander Hoyt say that psychological consultations by returning marines at Camp Pendleton have been increasing significantly since the war began.

One who comes for regular counseling is Sgt. Robert Willis, who earned a Bronze Star for leading an assault through a graveyard near Najaf in 2004.

Irritable since his return home in February, shaken by loud noises, leery of malls or other areas that are not well-lighted at night - classic signs of post-traumatic stress - Sergeant Willis has been seeing Commander Hoyt to help adjust to life at home.

"It's been hard," Sergeant Willis said in a telephone interview. "I have been boisterous, overbearing - my family notices it."

He said he had learned to manage his moods rather than react impulsively, after learning to monitor his thoughts and attend more closely to the reactions of others.

"The turning point, I think, was when Dr. Hoyt told me to simply accept that I was going to be different because of this," but not mentally ill, Sergeant Willis said.

The increase in consultations at Camp Pendleton may reflect increasingly taxing conditions, or delayed reactions, experts said. But it may also be evidence that men and women who have fought with ready access to a psychologist or psychiatrist are less constrained by the tough-it-out military ethos and are more comfortable seeking that person's advice when they get back.

"Seeing someone you remember from real time in combat absolutely could help in treatment," as well as help overcome the stigma of seeking counseling, said Rachel Yehuda, director of the post-traumatic stress disorder program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx. "If this is what is happening, I think it's brilliant."


Tracking Serious Symptoms

In the coming months, researchers who are following combat units after they return home are expected to report that the number of personnel with serious mental symptoms has increased slightly, up from the 17 percent reported last year.

In an editorial last year in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Matthew J. Friedman, executive director of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote that studies suggested that the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, in particular, "may increase considerably during the two years after veterans return from combat duty."

And on the basis of previous studies, Dr. Friedman wrote, "it is possible that psychiatric disorders will increase now that the conduct of the war has shifted from a campaign for liberation to an ongoing armed conflict with dissident combatants."

But others say that the rates of the disorder are just as likely to diminish in the next year, as studies show they do for disaster victims.

Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, said that given the stresses of this war, it was worth noting that five out of six service members who had seen combat did not show serious signs of mental illness.

The emotional casualties, Colonel Ritchie said, are "not just an Army medical problem, but a problem that the V.A. system, the civilian system and the society as a whole must work to solve."

That is the one thing all seem to agree on. Some veterans, like Sergeant Flanders and Sergeant Willis, have reconnected with other men in their units to help with their psychological adjustment to home life. Sergeant Willis has been transferred to noncombat duty at Camp Pendleton, in an environment he knows and enjoys, and he can see Commander Hoyt when he needs to. Sergeant Flanders is studying to be an officer.

But others, particularly reservists and National Guard troops, have landed right back in civilian society with no one close to them who has shared their experience.

Specialist Pickett, since her return, has felt especially cut off from the company she trained and served with. She has struggled at school, and with the Veterans Affairs system to get counseling, and no one near her has had an experience remotely like hers. She has tried antidepressants, which have helped reduce her suicidal thinking. She has also joined Operation Truth, a nonprofit organization that represents Iraq veterans, which has given her some comfort.

Finally, she said, she has been searching her memory and conscience for reasons to justify the pain of her experience: no one, Specialist Pickett said, looks harder for justification than a soldier.

Dr. Marlowe, the former chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed, knows from studying other wars that this is so.

"The great change among American troops in Germany during the Second World War was when they discovered the concentration camps," Dr. Marlowe said. "That immediately and forever changed the moral appreciation for why we were there."

As soldiers return from Iraq, he said, "it will be enormously important for those who feel psychologically disaffected to find something which justifies the killing, and the death of their friends."

    The Struggle to Gauge a War's Psychological Cost, NYT, 26.11.2005,






US mulls troop cuts in Iraq


Wed Nov 23, 2005
2:37 PM ET
By Will Dunham


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon plans to shrink the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, currently 155,000, to about 138,000 after the December 15 Iraqi elections and is considering dropping the number to about 100,000 next summer if conditions allow, defense officials said on Wednesday.

But officials said a variety of planning scenarios, including the possibility of no cut in troop levels, are being reviewed based on political and security conditions in Iraq and progress in developing U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces.

The officials stressed no decisions had been made. This comes amid intensifying debate in the U.S. Congress over whether U.S. troops should be withdrawn after 2-1/2 years of war in Iraq.

"The United States military looks at the full range of things that could occur in Iraq and makes plans accordingly, and makes plans for conditions that would lead to a smaller coalition force as well as conditions that would lead to a larger coalition force," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

Whitman said the plan was to drop back to 138,000 troops, considered the recent baseline level for the U.S. force, following the December 15 elections in which Iraqis will select a new permanent government.

The Pentagon increased U.S. troop levels in Iraq ahead of the October 15 referendum in which Iraqis approved a constitution, and the U.S. force peaked in October at about 161,000, the highest level of the war. After temporarily dropping by several thousand troops, the size of the U.S. force again is rising to help provide security for the December 15 elections.

In March and again in July, Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, predicted a "fairly substantial" reduction in American forces next spring and summer if Iraq's political process goes positively and progress is made in developing Iraqi security forces. Pentagon officials said in August that meant a reduction of perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 troops from the level of 138,000 then in Iraq.



A defense official, who asked not to be named, said such a cut remains under consideration, but options for a smaller cut or no reduction remain on the table.

"There is the potential over the course of next summer to get to 100,000. Nothing is going to happen fast. It will all be phased," said the official.

"If you start going down below that, you might be sending a message that we're cutting and running," the official added.

The No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. John Vines, said on Tuesday a "precipitous pullout" of U.S. forces would be destabilizing to Iraq.

The considerations come amid debate in Congress over the future of U.S. involvement in Iraq. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, an influential Democrat on military affairs who fought as a Marine in Vietnam and voted for the Iraq war, called last week for U.S. forces to be withdrawn within six months.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday she suspected American forces "are not going to be needed in the numbers that they're there for all that much longer" due to progress being made by the Iraqis.

Defense officials said the political debate will not drive decisions on troop levels.

U.S. forces are engaged in a fierce fight with insurgents. There have been 2,108 U.S. military deaths in a war that began in March 2003, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, with another 15,804 troops wounded in action. Thousands of Iraqis have also been killed.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is forecasting an improving security situation. Last week he said, "In terms of Iraq, the insurgency is going to diminish, I think, after these elections."

"So I think we'll see the coalition forces being able to pare down," Rumsfeld said.

    US mulls troop cuts in Iraq, R, 23.11.2005,






US talking Iraq troop reductions


Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:58 AM ET
By Joanne Allen


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States may not need the number of troops it has in Iraq "all that much longer," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said amid reports the Pentagon may pull back three combat brigades.

With political pressure building on U.S. President George W. Bush to shift course in Iraq, U.S. officials are trying to reassure Americans that sufficient progress is being made in training Iraqi forces to possibly permit some U.S. troops to leave.

"I suspect that American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they're there for all that much longer, because Iraqis are continuing to make progress in function, not just in numbers, but in their capabilities to do certain functions," Rice told CNN on Tuesday.

She said "the number of coalition forces is clearly going to come down because Iraqis are making it possible now to do those functions themselves."

Rice's comments come after a bitter debate on Capitol Hill about Bush's Iraq policy, including a demand by one of the most hawkish members of the U.S. Congress, Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, that U.S. forces withdraw immediately.

The Washington Post said on Wednesday that barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly.

Quoting several senior military officers, the Post said Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops to fewer than 100,000 from more than 150,000 now, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year.

A U.S. Army brigade has between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers.

Bush has consistently said that U.S. forces would stand down when Iraqi forces stand up. He hinted at the possibility of a troop drawdown on Sunday in Beijing.

"As the Iraqi security forces gain strength and experience we can lessen our troop presence in the country without losing our capability to effectively defeat the terrorists," Bush told reporters.

Bush is under pressure to change course in Iraq after the deaths of more than 2,000 Americans there and an unending train of suicide bombings.

But White House officials said he was not shifting his strategy, that any troop reductions would be based on conditions on the ground and the ability of Iraqi forces to defend themselves.

"A precipitous pullout, I believe, would be destabilizing," Lt. Gen. John Vines, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in a teleconference on Tuesday. He refused to set any timetable.

Vines said any recommendation from U.S. commanders in Iraq to begin withdrawing forces would be made based on the security situation and not on political considerations.

    US talking Iraq troop reductions, R, 23.11.2005,






US says 700 insurgents killed

in Iraq since Sept


Wed Nov 23, 2005
10:22 AM ET
By Luke Baker


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed more than 700 suspected insurgents in less than two months during operations in western Iraq, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, calling the result "very successful".

Major General Rick Lynch, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, said that as well as those killed, 1,500 suspects had been detained, including an undisclosed number of foreign fighters, and more than 200 weapons caches discovered.

"It's been very successful," Lynch told a briefing in Baghdad, referring to a series of security offensives conducted by U.S. and Iraq forces in Anbar province since September 28.

Over the same period, the U.S. military has lost more than 170 troops in Iraq, including 80 in Anbar.

Many of the operations in western Iraq, including the largest, dubbed "Steel Curtain", have been supported by aerial bombardments by U.S. warplanes.

Iraqi doctors and residents say civilians, including women and children, have been among those killed.

The U.S. military says it uses precision-guided weapons and only targets militants hiding out in safe houses.

The American military has led half a dozen operations in Anbar since May, but most have proved unsuccessful, with insurgents quickly returning to towns such as Qaim and Haditha to resume operations. Lynch said things would be different now.

Anbar, which includes the cities of Ramadi and Falluja and a stretch of violent towns along the Euphrates river, has been the focus of the insurgency in Iraq for much of the past two years.

The U.S. military believes Jordanian militant Abu Musab al- Zarqawi has built a base for his operations there, smuggling foreign fighters and weapons into the country from Syria.



Lynch said the security clampdown had led to the displacement of more than 6,000 Iraqi families, but he said most of them had already been returned to their homes.

He said Anbar was now safer, with attacks down against U.S. and Iraqi forces, although he also conceded: "You're never going to have a perfect security environment there."

While Lynch said U.S. troop casualties had fallen more than 30 percent this month from last, figures from the Pentagon show 96 soldiers and Marines died in October, a little over three a day, and 68 died in the first 22 days of November.

The Anbar operations, and others in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, have been focused on foreign fighters and militants linked to Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq group, Lynch said.

Last week in Mosul, U.S. and Iraqi troops thought they came close to killing Zarqawi when they attacked a house, prompting eight militants inside to blow themselves up.

"We come close to Zarqawi continuously," Lynch said. "At one point in time in the not too distant future, we will capture or kill him," he added.

Zarqawi's group issued a statement on the Internet on Wednesday saying the militant leader, who claimed responsibility for the hotel bombings that killed 60 people in Amman earlier this month, was still alive.

    US says 700 insurgents killed in Iraq since Sept, R, 23.11.2005,






The Vice President

Cheney Sees

'Shameless' Revisionism on War


November 22, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 - Vice President Dick Cheney stepped up the White House attacks on critics of the Iraq war on Monday, declaring that politicians who say Americans were sent into battle based on a lie are engaging in "revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety."

In remarks delivered at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Cheney briefly said he considered debate over the war healthy, and he echoed President Bush's recent praise of Representative John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has called for an early withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, as "a good man, a marine, a patriot."

But the vice president quickly made clear that after a week of criticism of Mr. Bush on Capitol Hill, the White House would not relent in its campaign against critics of the war and those who say the administration manipulated the intelligence that led to it.

Mr. Cheney decided last week, as the debate was intensifying, to time his speech for maximum impact by giving it on an otherwise quiet Monday, the first day that Congress was out of town on recess and while Mr. Bush was traveling back to Washington from a trip to Asia. The forum he chose is a conservative research organization at which his wife, Lynne, is a senior fellow.

"The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight, but any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false," Mr. Cheney said. "Senator John McCain put it best: 'It is a lie to say that the president lied to the American people.' "

Mr. McCain, the Arizona Republican and former North Vietnamese prisoner of war, has had an off-again- on-again relationship with the White House, but has supported the war and called for additional troops in Iraq.

The vice president made clear that he was distinguishing between his personal regard for Mr. Murtha, a Vietnam veteran, and what he considered the consequences of Mr. Murtha's proposed policies. Mr. Murtha returned to his district Monday, as his constituents tried to come to grips with his new role as a war critic. [Page A14.]

Mr. Cheney said an early withdrawal from Iraq would be a "terrible blow" to the security of the United States, and painted a bleak picture of terrorists' ambitions in Iraq.

"The terrorists believe that by controlling an entire country," he said, "they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and to establish a radical Islamic empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way to Indonesia. They have made clear, as well, their ultimate ambitions: to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries and to cause mass death in the United States."

Mr. Cheney repeated a formulation from a speech he made last week, calling the suggestion by some senators that the administration manipulated prewar intelligence "dishonest and reprehensible." Democrats immediately rejected that characterization. They also objected to Mr. Cheney's assertion that members of Congress had had access to the administration's prewar intelligence and that "they concluded, as the president and I had concluded, that Saddam Hussein was a threat."

Mr. Cheney did not mention that the administration had access to far more extensive intelligence than Congress did, like the highly classified daily briefing provided for the president by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Even as he took issue with the administration's critics, the vice president said debate had an essential place in democracy, a point that Mr. Bush emphasized in China on Sunday. "This is not an issue of who's patriot and who's not patriotic," Mr. Bush said. "It's an issue of an honest, open debate about the way forward in Iraq."

Mr. Cheney said, "Disagreement, argument and debate are the essence of democracy, and none of us should want it any other way." In a rare personal reference, he said, "For my part, I've spent a career in public service, run for office eight times - six statewide offices and twice nationally. I served in the House of Representatives for better than a decade, most of that time as a member of the leadership of the minority party.

"To me, energetic debate on issues facing our country is more than just a sign of a healthy political system, it's also something I enjoy. It's one of the reasons I've stayed in this business."

Leading Democrats denounced Mr. Cheney's remarks, issuing a point-by-point rebuttal to the major points in his speech.

"The vice president and this administration have a credibility problem," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said in a statement. "Rather than giving our troops a plan to move forward in Iraq and changing their failed course, they continue to ignore the facts and lash out at those who raise legitimate questions about how the administration misused intelligence in its rush to war."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement, "The only thing dishonest and reprehensible is the way the administration distorted, misrepresented and manipulated the intelligence to justify a war America never should have fought," adding, "It defies belief that the vice president can continue to say with a straight face that Congress had the same intelligence as the president and vice president had."

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who ran against Mr. Bush for president in 2004, said Mr. Cheney was "still misleading America" about the war.

Mr. Cheney's remarks closely tracked a speech on terrorism by Mr. Bush in Tobyhanna, Pa., on Nov. 11, that suggested that Democrats were undermining the war effort by accusing him of misleading the nation about Iraq's unconventional weapons. Mr. Cheney's remarks were also similar to the prepared text of a speech that Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, was scheduled to make in Chicago on Monday night.

"This kind of political doublespeak sends exactly the wrong message to our troops, to the Iraqis and to our terrorist enemies," the text said.

The White House is waging its campaign against war critics as Mr. Bush's approval ratings have sunk to record lows and polls have shown that he has lost credibility among voters. A recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 42 percent of Americans viewed Mr. Bush as honest, down from 53 percent in the beginning of the year.

But the White House has also tempered its initial response to Mr. Murtha, a combat veteran who voted for the Iraq war. After Mr. Murtha called last week for the pullout of 153,000 American troops from Iraq within six months, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, issued an unusually critical statement declaring that Mr. Murtha was endorsing "the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."

Administration officials now say the language was too strong, and on Sunday Mr. Bush referred to Mr. Murtha, one of the House's most respected experts on military matters, as "a fine man, a good man" whose decision to call for a withdrawal of troops was done in a "careful and thoughtful way."

    Cheney Sees 'Shameless' Revisionism on War, NYT, 22.11.2005,






The Troops

Among Those at War,

Morale Remains Strong, for Now


November 21, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 - In the tumultuous debate over renewed calls for a withdrawal from Iraq, each side argues that it stands shoulder to shoulder with the troops in the field and that the other side's approach is undermining military morale.

Those who favor an early withdrawal say the endless deployments and the mounting casualties are wreaking havoc on the armed forces. Those who want to stay the course say that talking about pulling out undermines the people making sacrifices.

"Put yourself in the shoes of the American soldiers who are losing lives and losing limbs and believe that it is a noble cause - which it is - believe they are making progress, believe we will prevail," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday on the ABC program "This Week."

Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, the Democrat whose call for an early withdrawal sparked the debate, said his loyalty also lay with the troops.

"It breaks my heart when I go out there and see these kids," Mr. Murtha, a combat veteran, said on the NBC program "Meet the Press." "I see wives who can't look at their husbands because they've been so disfigured. I saw a young fellow that was paralyzed from the neck down, and his three children were standing there crying with his wife and his mother."

But in interviews conducted by The New York Times in recent months with more than 200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines stationed around the world, the sense emerged that the war had not broken the military - but that civilian leaders should not think for a moment that that could not happen.

Cpl. Michael Meade is a member of a Marine Corps Reserve unit from Ohio that lost 14 members in a single day last August. Interviewed at the Al Asad airfield in western Iraq as his tour neared its end, Corporal Meade said: "I'm ready to leave Iraq. But that doesn't mean I've decided to leave the corps."

Maj. Adam R. McKeown, a Marine Corps reservist with the Sixth Communications Battalion deployed to Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, expressed his ambivalence with an allusion to Shakespeare, a subject he teaches at Adelphi University.

"The global war on terror is 'drinking deep' in terms of morale," Major McKeown said, referring to a line from "Henry IV, Part 1."

"Especially right now, I think the armed forces need good leaders who have served and continue to serve, and to step up and lead," he added. "But I can't forget that there are only so many times you can leave your civilian job and still have that job to return to."

While an overwhelming majority of those interviewed said their units had high morale and understood their mission, they expressed frustrations about long and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those deployments present the most significant problem for these troops, who were interviewed during a military correspondent's travels in the war zone and around the world.

Even among those who have done tours in Iraq, most soldiers who were interviewed said they were willing to wait and see, at least through another yearlong rotation, before passing judgment. The December vote on a new Iraqi government and efforts to train local security forces offer at least the prospect of reductions in the American force by next summer.

But few wanted to talk about what would happen if, come next year or especially the year beyond, the military commitment to Iraq remained undiminished.

A growing percentage of ground troops are in Iraq or Afghanistan for a second or third tour. The Third Infantry Division, which led the drive to Baghdad in 2003, returned to Iraq this year with 65 percent of its troops having served previous tours.

Many of those returning to the combat zone said the latest tours were different. Bases in Iraq and Afghanistan show the money spent on infrastructure and recreation facilities. The hot food, air-conditioning, Internet facilities and giant gymnasium offered at major bases bolster morale in ways that may not be wholly understood by someone who has not just come off a dusty, dangerous patrol.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Wannemacher dropped into northern Iraq with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the largest military parachute mission since World War II, and he is now in the combat zone in Afghanistan. He has been in the Army for 10 years, and plans to stay for his full 20.

"When I jumped into northern Iraq, it was wet and cold and we had nothing - nothing!" Sergeant Wannemacher said in an interview at the American base at Kandahar. "The best part here is how after a patrol, I can go to the phone center. Every soldier gets 15 minutes, free, to call home every day."

Soldiers and officers point out that stress on the force is hardly uniform overseas.

Military personnel based across Europe or in Japan, for example, said they enjoyed quality schools, medical services, child care and a standard of living that they could not maintain at home - all strong arguments for continued service.

Even among those assigned to duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to the chain of support bases strung across allied territory around the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, the stresses are uneven.

The Army requires yearlong assignments in the war zone - and many of those have been extended - and the Marine Corps deploys for seven months. In contrast, Air Force personnel serve 120-day tours in the region, and the Navy routinely sends its ships on six-month sea duty.

"The family can deal with my being gone four months," said Staff Sgt. Michael Marshall, on a rotation to Kuwait from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. "It would be different if they knew I would be gone for a year out of every three, like the Army."

Men and women in uniform - hunting insurgents in the desolate reaches of western Iraq, standing watch near the demilitarized zone separating South from North Korea, patrolling Balkan villages, launching fighters off a sizzling carrier deck in the Persian Gulf - say they believe continued service is important.

"I spent 15 months in Iraq with the First Armored Division, but there was never any doubt that I would re-enlist," said Sgt. Shannan W. Muench, who has been in the Army for five years and now serves in military intelligence.

The secret to keeping experienced personnel, she said, is obvious: offer rewarding career opportunities.

For Sergeant Muench, the sting of having to stay in Baghdad for an extra three months on top of her yearlong deployment was removed when she was offered a position with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, where she can use her Russian skills.

"I'm 30, and I'm financially set up for life," she said. "And I enjoy what I do."

One indicator that military morale remains strong is the numbers of those who re-enlist while deployed.

"Our retention numbers are so high that it's almost bizarre," Rear Adm. Pete Daly, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11, said aboard the Nimitz while under way in the Persian Gulf.

Perhaps it is because, as many service members said, decisions about whether to continue with the military life are made not on the basis of what Congress or the president says, but out of the bond of loyalty they have come to share with their comrades in arms.

That does not help the military much when it comes to attracting new recruits. Troublesome questions about the cause in Iraq may be felt more severely among would-be troops than among those already in the military.

Many in uniform say it is the job of the nation's political leaders to communicate the importance of the mission and the need for national sacrifice to a new generation of soldiers.

    Among Those at War, Morale Remains Strong, for Now, NYT, 21.10.2005



















Jeff Stahler

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio        Cagle        12.8.2005















Murtha predicts US troop withdrawal


Sun Nov 20, 2005 12:24 PM ET
By Joanne Kenen


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rep. John Murtha, the Democrat whose call for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq set off a furor last week, on Sunday predicted U.S. forces would leave Iraq before next year's U.S. congressional elections.

The Pennsylvania lawmaker, a Vietnam veteran and respected authority on the military, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he expected more people to come around and share his views and that U.S. troops should be withdrawn in 2006.

Asked if that meant U.S. troops would be out of Iraq before November congressional elections, Murtha said, "You have hit it on the head."

President George W. Bush's approval ratings have been sinking in the polls in tandem with growing public disapproval of the Iraq war and even some Republicans have started to question aspects of the administration Iraq's timetable and strategy.

The U.S. House, in an unusually raucous session on Friday,

defeated a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal. Democrats denounced the vote as a political stunt meant to attack and isolate Murtha.

But Murtha predicted that more and more Americans, in government and private life, would come to the same conclusion he had, that U.S. military occupation was making the situation in Iraq worse and that a political solution was needed.

"I have never seen such an outpouring in the 32 years I've been in Congress of support and people with tears in their eyes, people walking along clapping when I'm walking through the halls of Congress, saying something needed to be said," Murtha said.

"It's not me. It's the public that's thirsting for an answer to this thing," he added."

Bush and top administration officials in the past few days lashed out sharply against critics of the Iraq policy. But the president, speaking in Beijing, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were both more muted about their opponents on Sunday although both strongly defended their Iraq policy.

Bush, dogged by questions about Iraq during a week-long Asia tour, said "Congressman Murtha is a fine man, a good man who served our country with honor and distinction as a Marine in Vietnam and as a U.S. congressman."

Rumsfeld, who appeared on four Sunday talk shows, said debate about war is and should be part of the democratic process, but that Murtha's call for an immediate withdrawal would strengthen U.S. enemies and embolden terrorists.

"That would be a terrible thing for our country and for the safety of our people," he said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Rumsfeld depicted progress in Iraq in both the political and military arenas. "The Iraqi security forces are doing an excellent job. They're well-respected by the Iraqi people. They're engaged in the fight," he said on FOX News Sunday.

Rumsfeld also reiterated his support for the war to topple Saddam Hussein, even knowing now that the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was flawed. But he said Bush had never directly asked him for his views on an invasion.

"I wasn't asked," he said on ABC's "This Week." "I'm sure the president understood what my views were."

While commending Murtha's record as a veteran and lawmaker, Rumsfeld pointed out that neither Republicans nor Murtha's fellow Democrats had rushed to embrace his ideas.

    Murtha predicts US troop withdrawal, R, 20.11.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-11-20T172409Z_01_SCH876005_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-USA.xml






Democratic hawk

presses for US Iraq pullout


Thu Nov 17, 2005
10:38 PM ET
By Vicki Allen


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Democratic congressional leader on defense called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, as he rejected on Thursday Bush administration attacks on war critics and raised bipartisan pressure for a new policy.

"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees defense spending and one of his party's top voices on military issues.

Murtha's remarks followed a string of sharp attacks by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney against critics of their Iraq-war policy and handling of prewar intelligence.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, in a statement issued with Bush in Pusan, South Korea, said Murtha is a respected veteran and politician "so it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party." Moore is a liberal movie producer and sharp Bush critic whose documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" criticized the Iraq war.

"The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer," McClellan said.

Murtha, a defense hawk, decorated Vietnam War veteran and retired Marine colonel, made a reference to the draft deferments that kept Cheney out of Vietnam.

"I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done," Murtha said.

His call came two days after the Republican-controlled Senate overwhelmingly backed a resolution asking the administration for a plan to end the war, but rejected a Democratic resolution demanding a timetable from Bush.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada accused the White House of "a weak, spineless display of politics at a time of war" with its campaign against war critics.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy said Bush's "pure, unadulterated fear-mongering" led the country into war.

Murtha, who supported the Iraq war but criticized Bush's handling of it, urged the administration to pull out U.S. troops as soon as it could be done safely. He estimated that would take about six months.

Republicans lashed out against the lawmaker who has served in Congress since 1974 and been a trusted defense adviser to presidents of both parties.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said Murtha and other critics "want us to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists of the world ... We must not cower like European nations who are now fighting terrorists on their soil."

Rep. Geoff Davis, a Kentucky Republican, said Democratic leaders have "cooperated with our enemies and are emboldening our enemies."



Murtha said he would introduce a resolution calling for the return of U.S. forces in Iraq "at the earliest practicable date." He called the war "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll this week said 63 percent of Americans oppose Bush's handling of the Iraq war, and 52 percent say troops should be pulled out now or within 12 months.

A handful of Democrats who opposed the war from the start have called for a quick withdrawal or a set timetable. Most want the administration to provide a withdrawal plan based on conditions on the ground.

"The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress," Murtha said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, a war opponent, called Murtha's statement a thought-provoking "watershed event," but stopped short of endorsing it.

Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, top Armed Services Committee Democrat, said U.S. troop reductions should be linked to increases in Iraqi military readiness.

The administration has vehemently opposed any withdrawal timetables, which it calls a "cut and run" strategy. It is trying to build up Iraq's military so that U.S. troops can eventually leave.

But a number of Republicans were increasingly anxious about prospects in Iraq.

"We've got what I think is six months for this thing to begin to shape up ... to avoid a civil war," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia.

There are 153,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, up from the usual 138,000 to tighten security for elections in October and December. Another 22,000 troops from U.S. allies are also serving in Iraq.

(Additional reporting by Charles Aldinger, Donna Smith and Steve Holland)

    Democratic hawk presses for US Iraq pullout, NYT, 17.11.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-11-18T033802Z_01_SCH757276_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-DEMOCRATS.xml






Survey Shows

a Revival of Isolationism

Among Americans


November 17, 2005
The International Herald Tribune
The New York Times


Shaken by the Iraq war and the rise of anti-American sentiment around the world, Americans are turning inward, a new Pew survey of United States opinion leaders and the general public has found.

The survey, conducted this autumn and released today, found a revival of isolationist feelings among the public similar to the sentiment that followed the Vietnam War in the 1970's and the end of the Cold War in the 1990's.

Forty-two percent of Americans think the United States should "mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own," according to the survey, which was conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the Council on Foreign Relations.

In a poll taken in December 2002, before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, only 30 percent of Americans said the country should mind its own business.

The result appeared to represent a rejection by the public of President Bush's goal of promoting democracy in other nations, a major tenet of his administration's foreign policy.

"The war in Iraq has had a profound impact on the way opinion leaders, as well as the public, view America's global role, looming international threats, and the Bush administration's stewardship of the nation's foreign policy," the center said in its analysis of the poll.

Among the other sentiments the survey found were these:

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the United States should play a shared leadership role, and only 25 percent want the country to be the most active of leading nations.

Two-thirds of Americans say that there is less international respect for the United States than in the past. When asked why, strong majorities - 71 percent of the public and 88 percent of opinion leaders - cite the war in Iraq.

Foreign affairs and security experts most often name India as a country likely to become a more important United States ally, while opinion leaders generally say France will decline in importance as a partner of the United States.

In the survey, the center questioned 2,006 American adults from the general public and 520 influential Americans - designated as opinion leaders - including those in the fields of news media, foreign affairs, security, state and local government, universities and research organizations.

Conducted from Sept. 5 to Oct. 31, the survey "reflects the major changes in the world that have occurred" since the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, the center said. The margin of error for most questions was plus or minus 2.5 percent.

In its analysis of the results, the center said the Iraq war and the continued threat of terrorism had "dramatically affected the way opinion leaders and the public look at potential threats from other countries."

While China was seen four years ago as representing the greatest threat to the United States, opinion leaders and the public now cite Iraq and North Korea as well as China, the center said.

Regarding prospects for Iraq, a majority of opinion leaders believe the United States will fail to establish a stable democracy, while the general public was more optimistic, with 56 percent expecting success.

    Survey Shows a Revival of Isolationism Among Americans, NYT, 17.11.2005,






American Faces Charge of Graft

for Work in Iraq


November 17, 2005
The New York Times


In what is expected to be the first of a series of criminal charges against officials and contractors overseeing the rebuilding of Iraq, an American has been charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to American occupation authorities and their spouses to obtain construction contracts, according to a complaint unsealed late yesterday.

The man, Philip H. Bloom, who controlled three companies that did work in Iraq in the multibillion-dollar reconstruction effort, was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and interstate transportation of stolen property, all in connection with obtaining up to $3.5 million in reportedly fraudulent contracts.

The complaint, unsealed in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, also cites two unnamed co-conspirators who worked in the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American administration that governed Iraq when the contracts were awarded in early 2004. These were the officials who, with their spouses, allegedly received the payments.

"This is the first case, but it won't be the last," said Jim Mitchell, a spokesman for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent office. Mr. Mitchell said as many as a dozen related cases had been referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.

Mr. Bloom's lawyer, Robert Mintz of Newark, said he still knew little about the case beyond what was in the complaint. "The complaint and the supporting affidavit were unsealed for the first time today and we're in the process of reviewing the allegations," he said.

Mr. Bloom, who lived in Romania for many years, appeared in court yesterday, Mr. Mintz said. He was arrested recently at Newark Liberty International Airport, the lawyer added.

The complaint says that in order to obtain lucrative reconstruction contracts, Mr. Bloom paid at least $200,000 a month to an unspecified number of coalition authority officials, including the two co-conspirators and their spouses. Neither co-conspirator is named in the complaint, although it indicates that one is cooperating with the prosecution.

The other co-conspirator, the complaint says, held the position of comptroller and financing officer for "C.P.A. South Central Region in Iraq," which included Hillah. This person controlled $82 million "to be used for payment of contract services rendered in Al Hillah, Iraq, including contracts awarded to Bloom," the complaint asserts.

A United States government official said this person was named Robert J. Stein.

The complaint says the contracts Mr. Bloom obtained "were purported to be for the rebuilding and stabilization of Iraq" in Hillah and Karbala, a holy city in the south. The work included "the renovation of the Karbala Public Library; demolition work related to, and construction of, the Al Hillah Police Academy; the upgrading of security of the Al Hillah Police Academy, and the construction of the Regional Tribal Democracy Center."

With the assistance of the alleged co-conspirators and others, the document says, Mr. Bloom submitted multiple bids on the same contracts, using the names of different companies that were either controlled by Mr. Bloom or did not exist. Once there were sufficient bids to satisfy United States government regulations, the co-conspirators, including Mr. Stein, would ensure that the contract went to one of the companies, the complaint says.

"The value of these contracts ranged up to $498,900," the complaint says. "Co-conspirator 1's approval authority for awarding contracts was limited to contracts less than $500,000."

The complaint contends that the monthly bribes to coalition officials have been corroborated by an Iraqi witness, one of the conspirators "and other persons with personal knowledge of the payments, and through reviewing various financial records."

In one case Mr. Bloom, "who paid the aforementioned bribes, kickbacks and gratuities," the complaint says, "caused the transfer of funds totaling more than $267,000 from foreign bank accounts to accounts in the United States in the name of Co-conspirator 1 and/or his spouse." Other transfers came from banks in Kuwait, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania to accounts controlled by the alleged conspirators, the complaint says. Some transfers also went to jewelers, automobile dealerships and a realty firm, all apparently for the benefit of the fellow conspirators.

"I believe that the financial and monetary transactions described above are part of a conspiracy to violate United States law," wrote Patrick McKenna Jr., a special agent for the inspector general's office, as part of the complaint.

Little information was immediately available about Mr. Bloom or Mr. Stein. But the inspector general previously noted that in the rush to start reconstruction projects in south central Iraq, contracts were handled sloppily and oversight was minimal.

The charges are likely to fuel further criticisms of the rebuilding effort in Iraq, which has largely failed to live up to the hopes of United States officials. Large amounts of the money appropriated for rebuilding have been spent on securing projects and repairing sabotage, both results of insurgent activity. The effort has also been criticized for failing to take into account the problems faced by any building project in Iraq, including the difficulty of visiting project sites.

    American Faces Charge of Graft for Work in Iraq, NYT, 17.11.2005,

















US Vice President Dick Cheney attacks critics of the Iraq war

during a speech to the Frontiers of Freedom Institute 2005 Ronald Reagan Gala

in Washington, D.C., November 16, 2005.


REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


Cheney says war critics 'dishonest, reprehensible'        R        16.11.2005
















Cheney says

war critics 'dishonest, reprehensible'


Wed Nov 16, 2005
11:50 PM ET
By John Whitesides,
Political Correspondent


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the sharpest White House attack yet on critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday that accusations the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a "dishonest and reprehensible" political ploy.

Cheney called Democrats "opportunists" who were peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain political advantage while U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.

Democrats cried foul but President George W. Bush, at a news conference in Kyongju, South Korea, defended Cheney.

"It's irresponsible to use politics. This is serious business, winning this war. But it's irresponsible to do what they've done. So I agree with the vice president," Bush said.

The comments were the latest salvo in an aggressive White House counterattack on war critics, launched as Democrats step up their criticism of the war and polls show declining public support for the conflict.

Cheney repeated Bush's charge that Democratic critics were rewriting history by questioning prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction even though many Senate Democrats voted in October 2002 to authorize the invasion.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -- but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," said Cheney, a principal architect of the war and a focus of Democratic allegations the administration misrepresented intelligence on Iraq's weapons program.

Cheney said the suggestion Bush or any member of the administration misled Americans before the war "is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

"Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein," he said in a speech to the conservative Frontiers of Freedom Institute.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada responded that "tired rhetoric and political attacks do nothing to get the job done in Iraq."

Reid, who voted to authorize the war and has led the push for a probe into the intelligence, said on the Senate floor that Cheney's speech showed "this administration intends to 'stay the course' and continue putting their political fortunes ahead of what this country needs -- a plan for success."

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who also voted for the war in 2002 and whom Bush defeated in the presidential election a year ago, accused Cheney of engaging "in the politics of fear and smear."

"It is hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq than Vice President Cheney," Kerry said.



Bush, whose public approval ratings have dropped to the lowest point of his presidency, has given two speeches in the last five days blasting Democratic critics and trying to use their support for the war against them.

Twenty-nine Senate Democrats voted in favor of an October 2002 resolution authorizing military force in Iraq. Many have since said it was a mistake based on false or misleading information.

"What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war," Cheney said.

Democrats have charged the administration, led by Cheney, manipulated the intelligence on Iraq to justify the war and leaked classified information to discredit critics.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a top aide to Cheney, was indicted last month for obstructing justice, perjury and lying after a probe into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Plame's husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, has said she was outed to get back at him for his criticism of the war.

Administration officials have acknowledged intelligence on Iraqi weapons was faulty, but say Democrats, Republicans and foreign intelligence agencies all believed Baghdad had deadly weapons before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

"American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures -- conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers -- and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie," Cheney said.

    Cheney says war critics 'dishonest, reprehensible', R, 16.11.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-11-17T044958Z_01_MCC700968_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-USA.xml
















A file video grab

shows U.S. military firing white-phosphorus munitions

against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Falluja, November 9, 2004.

The Pentagon on November 16, 2005 acknowledged

using incendiary white-phosphorus munitions

in a 2004 offensive in Falluja and defended their use

as legal, amid concerns by arms control advocates.




US defends use of white phosphorus        R        16.11.2005















US defends use of white phosphorus


Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:48 PM ET
By Will Dunham


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Wednesday acknowledged using incendiary white-phosphorus munitions in a 2004 offensive against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Falluja and defended their use as legal, amid concerns by arms control advocates.

Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. military had not used the highly flammable weapons against civilians, contrary to an Italian state television report this month that stated the munitions were used against men, women and children in Falluja who were burned to the bone.

"We categorically deny that claim," Venable said.

"It's part of our conventional-weapons inventory and we use it like we use any other conventional weapon," added Bryan Whitman, another Pentagon spokesman.

Venable said white phosphorus weapons are not outlawed or banned by any convention.

However, a protocol to an accord on conventional weapons which took effect in 1983 forbids using incendiary weapons against civilians.

The protocol also forbids their use against military targets within concentrations of civilians, except when the targets are clearly separated from civilians and "all feasible precautions" are taken to avoid civilian casualties.

The United States is a party to the overall accord, but has not ratified the incendiary-weapons protocol or another involving blinding laser weapons.

White phosphorus munitions are primarily used by the U.S. military to make smoke screens and mark targets, but also as an incendiary weapon, the Pentagon said. They are not considered chemical weapons. The substance ignites easily in air at temperatures of about 86 degrees F (30 C), and its fire can be difficult to extinguish.



Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, questioned whether the U.S. military was using the weapons in a manner consistent with the conventional weapons convention.

"White phosphorous weapons should not be used just like any other conventional weapon," Kimball said.

Kimball called for an independent review of how the United States was using the weapons and possibly an investigation by countries that are parties to the convention "to determine whether their use in Iraq is appropriate or not."

U.S. forces used the white phosphorus during a major offensive launched by Marines in Falluja, about 30 miles (50 km) west of Baghdad, to flush out insurgents. The battle in November of last year involved some of the toughest urban fighting of the 2-1/2-year war.

Venable said that in the Falluja battle, "U.S. forces used white phosphorous both in its classic screening mechanism and ... when they encountered insurgents who were in foxholes and other covered positions who they could not dislodge any other way."

He said the soldiers employed a "shake-and-bake" technique of using white phosphorus shells to flush enemies out of hiding and then use high explosives artillery rounds to kill them.

The Italian documentary showed images of bodies recovered after the Falluja offensive, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against civilians.

"We don't target any civilians with any of our weapons. And to suggest that U.S. forces were targeting civilians with these weapons would simply be wrong," Whitman said.

    US defends use of white phosphorus, R, 16.11.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-11-16T234836Z_01_SCH667276_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-USA-PHOSPHORUS.xml&archived=False

















Dave Brown        The Independent        17.11.2005


George W. Bush,

43rd president of the United States.
















The US used chemical weapons in Iraq

- and then lied about it

Now we know napalm and phosphorus bombs
have been dropped on Iraqis,
why have the hawks failed to speak out?


Tuesday November 15, 2005
The Guardian
George Monbiot


Did US troops use chemical weapons in Falluja? The answer is yes. The proof is not to be found in the documentary broadcast on Italian TV last week, which has generated gigabytes of hype on the internet. It's a turkey, whose evidence that white phosphorus was fired at Iraqi troops is flimsy and circumstantial. But the bloggers debating it found the smoking gun.

The first account they unearthed in a magazine published by the US army. In the March 2005 edition of Field Artillery, officers from the 2nd Infantry's fire support element boast about their role in the attack on Falluja in November last year: "White Phosphorous. WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE [high explosive]. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

The second, in California's North County Times, was by a reporter embedded with the marines in the April 2004 siege of Falluja. "'Gun up!' Millikin yelled ... grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube. 'Fire!' Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it. The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call 'shake'n'bake' into... buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week."

White phosphorus is not listed in the schedules of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It can be legally used as a flare to illuminate the battlefield, or to produce smoke to hide troop movements from the enemy. Like other unlisted substances, it may be deployed for "Military purposes... not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare". But it becomes a chemical weapon as soon as it is used directly against people. A chemical weapon can be "any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm".

White phosphorus is fat-soluble and burns spontaneously on contact with the air. According to globalsecurity.org: "The burns usually are multiple, deep, and variable in size. The solid in the eye produces severe injury. The particles continue to burn unless deprived of atmospheric oxygen... If service members are hit by pieces of white phosphorus, it could burn right down to the bone." As it oxidises, it produces smoke composed of phosphorus pentoxide. According to the standard US industrial safety sheet, the smoke "releases heat on contact with moisture and will burn mucous surfaces... Contact... can cause severe eye burns and permanent damage."

Until last week, the US state department maintained that US forces used white phosphorus shells "very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes". They were fired "to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters". Confronted with the new evidence, on Thursday it changed its position. "We have learned that some of the information we were provided ... is incorrect. White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, ie obscuring troop movements and, according to... Field Artillery magazine, 'as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes...' The article states that US forces used white phosphorus rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds." The US government, in other words, appears to admit that white phosphorus was used in Falluja as a chemical weapon.

The invaders have been forced into a similar climbdown over the use of napalm in Iraq. In December 2004, the Labour MP Alice Mahon asked the British armed forces minister Adam Ingram "whether napalm or a similar substance has been used by the coalition in Iraq (a) during and (b) since the war". "No napalm," the minister replied, "has been used by coalition forces in Iraq either during the war-fighting phase or since."

This seemed odd to those who had been paying attention. There were widespread reports that in March 2003 US marines had dropped incendiary bombs around the bridges over the Tigris and the Saddam Canal on the way to Baghdad. The commander of Marine Air Group 11 admitted that "We napalmed both those approaches". Embedded journalists reported that napalm was dropped at Safwan Hill on the border with Kuwait. In August 2003 the Pentagon confirmed that the marines had dropped "mark 77 firebombs". Though the substance these contained was not napalm, its function, the Pentagon's information sheet said, was "remarkably similar". While napalm is made from petrol and polystyrene, the gel in the mark 77 is made from kerosene and polystyrene. I doubt it makes much difference to the people it lands on.

So in January this year, the MP Harry Cohen refined Mahon's question. He asked "whether mark 77 firebombs have been used by coalition forces". The US, the minister replied, has "confirmed to us that they have not used mark 77 firebombs, which are essentially napalm canisters, in Iraq at any time". The US government had lied to him. Mr Ingram had to retract his statements in a private letter to the MPs in June.

We were told that the war with Iraq was necessary for two reasons. Saddam Hussein possessed biological and chemical weapons and might one day use them against another nation. And the Iraqi people needed to be liberated from his oppressive regime, which had, among its other crimes, used chemical weapons to kill them. Tony Blair, Colin Powell, William Shawcross, David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Ann Clwyd and many others referred, in making their case, to Saddam's gassing of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988. They accused those who opposed the war of caring nothing for the welfare of the Iraqis.

Given that they care so much, why has none of these hawks spoken out against the use of unconventional weapons by coalition forces? Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP who turned from peace campaigner to chief apologist for an illegal war, is, as far as I can discover, the only one of these armchair warriors to engage with the issue. In May this year, she wrote to the Guardian to assure us that reports that a "modern form of napalm" has been used by US forces "are completely without foundation. Coalition forces have not used napalm - either during operations in Falluja, or at any other time". How did she know? The foreign office minister told her. Before the invasion, Clwyd travelled through Iraq to investigate Saddam's crimes against his people. She told the Commons that what she found moved her to tears. After the invasion, she took the minister's word at face value, when a 30-second search on the internet could have told her it was bunkum. It makes you wonder whether she really gave a damn about the people for whom she claimed to be campaigning.

Saddam, facing a possible death sentence, is accused of mass murder, torture, false imprisonment and the use of chemical weapons. He is certainly guilty on all counts. So, it now seems, are those who overthrew him.


    The US used chemical weapons in Iraq - and then lied about it, G, 15.11.2005,

















Bill Day

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee        Cagle        16.11.2005



George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States















Bush quotes Democrats

to counter Iraq war critics


Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:28 PM ET
By Steve Holland


ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Monday sought to counter Democratic critics of the Iraq war by turning their own past words of warning about Saddam Hussein against them.

"Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war -- but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people," Bush said in a campaign-style speech accusing Democrats of playing politics with the issue and trying to rewrite the past.

He spoke to U.S. troops in an air base hangar in Alaska, a refueling spot for Air Force One carrying him on a week-long Asia trip that Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said would be long on conversations about top priorities but not likely to include any breakthrough agreements on simmering trade issues.

Democrats have been hounding a politically weakened Bush with allegations that he, Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior officials manipulated intelligence in order to hype the threat posed by Saddam to justify the war.

Bush, struggling to rebuild Americans' support for the Iraq war amid rising U.S. casualties, criticized Democrats on the intelligence manipulation charge for a second time, reflecting sensitivity on the issue as he tries to battle back from the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency.

He quoted statements made in 2001 and 2002 by three Senate Democrats, though he did not quote them by name.

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons," Bush quoted West Virginia Democratic Sen. John Rockefeller as saying in an October 2002 speech.

Rockefeller, who now serves as the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was among the 29 Democrats who voted for the war in a key 2002 Senate vote.



Bush cited as well cite a statement by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, in a December 2001 television interview, as saying, "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as (Saddam) is in power." Levin voted against the war.

Bush also quoted Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who also voted for the war, as saying in September 2002: "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the president's approaching this in the right fashion."

"They spoke the truth then, and they're speaking politics now," Bush said to applause, adding that it was Saddam who manipulated evidence and misled the world.

Bush said the Democratic criticism sends "mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible."

Democrats responded on Monday by vehemently denying that they saw the same intelligence before the war as Bush, and that there was a consensus in the intelligence community on that information.

They accused the administration of trying to convince the American people there was a link between Saddam and al Qaeda even though the intelligence community rejected that idea.

Bush was on his way to Kyoto, Japan, first stop on a tour that includes visits to South Korea, China and Mongolia.

Hadley, briefing reporters on Air Force One, played down the possibility of any breakthroughs on trade disputes with Japan and China.

On U.S. attempts to persuade Tokyo to lift a ban on U.S. beef imposed over mad cow fears, Hadley said: "This is not going to get worked out before we get there, it's not going to get worked out while we're there. But we hope in a reasonable time afterwards to see this issue worked through and beef returned to the Japanese market."

As for China's swelling trade surplus with the United States, a source of increasing frustration among U.S. lawmakers and exporters, Hadley also tried to minimize prospects of a breakthrough.

Bush wants China to liberalize China's currency system and let the yuan rise in value. "It's going to be an issue during this trip. It's going to be an issue after this trip," Hadley said.

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous)

    Bush quotes Democrats to counter Iraq war critics, R, Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:28 PM ET, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-11-15T002818Z_01_MCC501355_RTRUKOC_0_US-BUSH-IRAQ.xml

















John Sherffius

St Louis, MO        Cagle        16.11.2005
















Senate to weigh Guantanamo rights compromise


Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:20 PM ET
The New York Times
By Vicki Allen


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison convicted by U.S. military tribunals could have their cases reviewed by federal courts under a bipartisan compromise offered on Monday by senators who said the chamber moved too far last week to block inmates' access to courts.

The Senate was set to vote on Tuesday on the compromise worked out by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Carl Levin.

Graham sponsored the original amendment passed by the Senate on Thursday that denied enemy combatants at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the right to go to federal court to challenge their detention.

Graham of South Carolina said the compromise "corrects a flaw in my amendment" which did not provide the right of an appeal from a military tribunal to federal court.

The compromise also restores federal court jurisdiction over pending cases, and provides for a court review of whether standards and procedures of the tribunals are consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

With the compromise, there would be an automatic appeal for detainees facing a death sentence or at least 10 years imprisonment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia would determine whether it would hear cases with less than 10-year sentences.

Civil rights advocates were alarmed when Graham's amendment cleared the Senate last week on a 49-42 vote, saying it would strip any federal court oversight for people the Bush administration has declared enemy combatants in the war on terror and who are being held at Guantanamo Bay.



Levin said the compromise was a "significant improvement" over Graham's original, and he would support it if an amendment pushed by Democrats to keep detainees' habeas corpus rights is defeated in Tuesday's voting.

Levin said he preferred an amendment, sponsored by Democrat Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, to maintain inmates' ability under a 2004 Supreme Court decision to use habeas corpus petitions to challenge the legality of their detention, but with measures to stem frivolous lawsuits over detainees' living conditions.

Bingaman argued that the Bush administration has left the detainees, mostly scooped up in the war in Afghanistan, in a legal limbo, holding them indefinitely without charges and depriving them of protections under the laws of war.

Graham said the Senate's support last week for his original amendment reflected lawmakers' frustration that habeas corpus claims "were being exercised by noncitizen foreign terrorist suspects to the point that they were flooding our courts."

Granting enemy combatants such access to federal courts gives "an enemy prisoner a right that an enemy prisoner has never enjoyed before in the law of armed conflict," he said.

The Senate debate comes after the Supreme Court said last week it would decide whether President George W. Bush had the power to create the military commissions to put Guantanamo prisoners on trial for war crimes.

The amendments were being considered on a bill authorizing defense and nuclear weapons programs that also contains language prohibiting the use of torture and setting rules for interrogations of detainees.

The Bush administration has threatened to veto this bill and another bill necessary to fund the Pentagon if they contained the language setting standards on detainee treatment, arguing it would impede efforts to get information to block acts of terrorism.

    Senate to weigh Guantanamo rights compromise, R, Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:20 PM ET, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-11-15T032001Z_01_MCC511915_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-PRISONS-CONGRESS.xml






Senate Approves

Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees


November 11, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.

The vote, 49 to 42, on an amendment to a military budget bill by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, comes at a time of intense debate over the government's treatment of prisoners in American custody worldwide, and just days after the Senate passed a measure by Senator John McCain banning abusive treatment of them.

If approved in its current form by both the Senate and the House, which has not yet considered the measure but where passage is considered likely, the law would nullify a June 2004 Supreme Court opinion that detainees at Guantánamo Bay had a right to challenge their detentions in court.

Nearly 200 of roughly 500 detainees there have already filed habeas corpus motions, which are making their way up through the federal court system. As written, the amendment would void any suits pending at the time the law was passed.

The vote also came in the same week that the Supreme Court announced that it would consider the constitutionality of war crimes trials before President Bush's military commissions for certain detainees at Guantánamo Bay, a case that legal experts said might never be decided by the court if the Graham amendment became law.

Five Democrats joined 44 Republicans in backing the amendment, but the vote on Thursday may only be a temporary triumph for Mr. Graham. Senate Democrats led by Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico said they would seek another vote, as early as Monday, to gut the part of Mr. Graham's measure that bans Guantánamo prisoners from challenging their incarceration by petitioning in civilian court for a writ of habeas corpus.

So it is possible that some lawmakers could have it both ways, backing other provisions in Mr. Graham's measure that try to make the Guantánamo tribunal process more accountable to the Senate, but opposing the more exceptional element of the legislation that limits prerogatives of the judiciary. Nine senators were absent for Thursday's vote.

Mr. Graham said the measure was necessary to eliminate a blizzard of legal claims from prisoners that was tying up Department of Justice resources, and slowing the ability of federal interrogators to glean information from detainees that have been plucked off the battlefields of Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"It is not fair to our troops fighting in the war on terror to be sued in every court in the land by our enemies based on every possible complaint," Mr. Graham said. "We have done nothing today but return to the basics of the law of armed conflict where we are dealing with enemy combatants, not common criminals."

Opponents of the measure denounced the Senate vote as a grave step backward in the nation's treatment of detainees in the global war on terror. "This is not a time to back away from the principles that this country was founded on," Mr. Bingaman said during floor debate.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one of four Republicans to vote against the measure, said the Senate was unduly rushing into a major legal shift without enough debate. "I believe the habeas corpus provision needs to be maintained," Mr. Specter said.

A three-judge panel trying to resolve the extent of Guantánamo prisoners' rights to challenge detentions sharply questioned an administration lawyer in September when he argued that detainees had no right to be heard in federal appeals courts.

The panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is trying to apply a 2004 Supreme Court ruling to two subsequent, conflicting decisions by lower courts, one appealed by the prisoners and the other by the administration.

In its June 28, 2004, decision in Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that the Guantánamo base was not outside the jurisdiction of American law as administration lawyers had argued and that the habeas corpus statute allowing prisoners to challenge their detentions was applicable.

Under Mr. Graham's measure, Guantánamo prisoners would be able to challenge only the narrow question of whether the government followed procedures established by the defense secretary at the time the military determined their status as enemy combatants, which is subject to an annual review. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit would retain the right to rule on that, but not on other aspects of a prisoner's case.

Detainees would not be able to challenge the underlying rationale for their detention. "If it stands, it means detainees at Guantánamo Bay would have no access to any federal court for anything other than very simple procedural complaints dealing with annual status review," said Christopher E. Anders, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "Otherwise, the federal courts' door is shut."

If the measure is enacted, civil liberties groups said it would appear to render moot the Supreme Court's decision on Monday to decide the validity of the military commissions that Mr. Bush wants to try detainees charged with terrorist offenses to trial. But some legal experts said the court might be able to move ahead if determined to do so.

Under the Graham amendment, the measure would apply to any application or action pending "on or after the date of enactment of this act."

Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First, said: "The Senate acted unwisely, and unnecessarily, in stripping courts of jurisdiction over Guantánamo detainees. Particularly now, as the string of reports of abuse over the past several years have underscored how important it is to have effective checks on the exercise of executive authority, depriving an entire branch of government of its ability to exercise meaningful oversight is a decidedly wrong course to take."

The Senate vote on Thursday came just days after senators voted, for the second time in recent weeks, to back a measure by Mr. McCain to prohibit the use of cruel and degrading treatment against detainees in American custody.

Vice President Dick Cheney has appealed to Mr. McCain and to Senate Republicans to grant the C.I.A. an exemption to allow it extra latitude, subject to presidential authorization, in interrogating high-level terrorists abroad who might know about future attacks. Mr. McCain said Thursday that negotiations with the White House on compromise language were stalemated.

In addition to Mr. Specter, Republicans voting against the bill were Senators John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. The five Democrats voting for the bill were Senators Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

    Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees, NYT, 11.11.2005,






Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 29

in Crowded Baghdad Restaurant


November 10, 2005
The New York Times


BAGHDAD, Nov. 10 - A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt killed at least 29 people and wounded some 30 others today inside a crowded restaurant, government officials said.

The bombing, one of the most deadly in the Iraqi capital in recent months, was claimed by Al Qaeda in Mesopatamia. The bombing appeared to be retaliation for a military operation in the western Iraqi city of Husayba, where American and Iraqi forces have been battling insurgents for six days.

The same group has claimed responsibility for three suicide bombs that killed at least 56 people in three hotels on Wednesday in Amman, Jordan.

The Qaduri restaurant in central Baghdad, a popular breakfast meeting spot for police officers and Iraqi Army soldiers, was packed with its typical breakfast crowd this morning when the bomber walked in about 9:30, witnesses said.

Several people said the restaurant had been threatened in the past and had recently been closed briefly.

"The threat was a month before Ramadan and they closed the restaurant for two months," said Raad Soud, 29, who operates a stall selling cigarettes nearby.

Uday Muhammad, 32, whose job is to look after the cars of patrons, said that moments before the explosion, he tried to warn a group of seven men not to enter the restaurant because it had received a bomb threat.

"Some didn't pay attention to what I said," said Mr. Muhammad. "Two of the seven entered the restaurant, and as soon as they stepped in a huge explosion took place."

Witnesses said that blood covered the restaurant's tables and chairs, and that many of the victims had been decapitated and had their limbs severed.

The explosion tore through the quiet of the residential Karrada neighborhood and sprayed nails, shrapnel and pieces of metal throughout the small eatery. Pools of blood collected on the tiled sidewalk just outside, and the scalp of a man hung from one of the plaster portions of the ceiling that had broken loose in the blast.

A woman wrapped in a long black gown asked a police officer outside the restaurant what had happened to her son.

"I just want to make sure that my son is O.K.," the woman, who was in tears, told the officer. "He is one of the workers of the restaurant. He has been working in the restaurant since he was 4 years old. He quit the work after they received the threat, and recently resumed the work."

The police officer told her that he would inquire about her son. When he returned, he told the woman her son had been taken to a hospital. But after she left, the officer said that her son had died.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group, which often refers to its members as "lions," said today that one of its "cubs" carried out the attack, according to a statement reported by The Associated Press. The statement could not be verified.

A police officer told Reuters that at least four Iraqi police patrols were having their breakfast at the restaurant when the bomber struck. A police explosives expert on the scene said that the bomber was also carrying a bag full of explosives, according to the news agency.

The explosion came just hours before the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, met with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari in Baghdad. Mr. Straw arrived in Iraq today from Amman.

East of Baghdad, in Kut province, the Iraqi Army found the bodies of 27 people today who were wearing civilian clothes and had been handcuffed and blindfolded. They had been shot in the head, said an Iraqi military official.

Six other people were killed and 13 wounded when a suicide driver detonated a car bomb outside an Iraqi army recruitment centre in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, in the north of the country, police said. Two other civilians were killed an hour later in the same spot when another bomb exploded, The A.P. reported.

    Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 29 in Crowded Baghdad Restaurant, NYT, 10.11.2005,

















The Qaduri restaurant in central Baghdad,

a popular breakfast meeting spot

for police officers and Iraqi Army soldiers,

was packed with its typical breakfast crowd

when the bomber walked in about 9:30, witnesses said.


Photograph: Joao Silva for The New York Times


Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 29 in Crowded Baghdad Restaurant

NYT        10.11.2005


















The blast left a gruesome scene for the police to investigate.


Photograph: Scott Nelson for the New York Times


Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 29 in Crowded Baghdad Restaurant

NYT        10.11.2005


















Pools of blood collected on the tiled sidewalk just outside.


Photograph: Mohammed Hato/Associated Press


Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 29 in Crowded Baghdad Restaurant

NYT        10.11.2005



















At a Baghdad hospital,

man mourned a relative killed in the attack.


Photograph: Karim Kadim/Associated Press


Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 29 in Crowded Baghdad Restaurant

NYT        10.11.2005



















Outside the hospital, more scenes of mourning.


Photograph: Karim Kadim/Associated Press


Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 29 in Crowded Baghdad Restaurant

NYT        10.11.2005
















No Evidence of Pressure on Iraq Data,

Senator Says


November 7, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 - With Democrats stepping up their attacks over prewar intelligence on Iraq, the Republican leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Sunday that the panel's initial work had found no evidence of "political manipulation or pressure" in the use of such intelligence.

This week the committee expects to begin circulating among its members draft reports on the question of whether the administration manipulated or distorted intelligence on Iraq in making its case for war, said the chairman, Pat Roberts of Kansas.

Mr. Roberts did not say what the draft reports would conclude. But he did make clear that past work by his committee and other commissions did not point to any evidence that made him believe that intelligence had been distorted.

As part of a report released last year by his committee that found widespread intelligence failures on Iraq's weapons capabilities, "we interviewed over 250 analysts and we specifically asked them: 'Was there any political manipulation or pressure?' Answer: 'No,' " Mr. Roberts said on "Face the Nation" on CBS.

Studies by the independent Robb-Silberman commission, appointed by the president, as well as the similar Butler commission in Britain reached the "same conclusion," said Mr. Roberts, who has been a staunch supporter of the administration's policies on Iraq.

Democrats have accused the Republicans - and Mr. Roberts in particular - of dragging their feet on the Intelligence Committee's study, begun some 20 months ago. Frustration over the pace of the inquiry led Senate Democratic leaders to invoke a rare procedural rule last week, sending the Senate into a special closed session.

Democrats said they had been driven to act by the indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on charges of obstruction and perjury, charges that were related to the disclosure of the name of a Central Intelligence Agency operative whose husband had been a vocal critic of prewar intelligence.

In addition, articles published Sunday in The New York Times and The Washington Post showed that Defense Department intelligence analysts warned in February 2002 that a top member of Al Qaeda was a likely fabricator, months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as a foundation for its claims that Iraq had trained Qaeda members in the use of biological and chemical weapons.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said Sunday of the reports: "Once again, we have another important example of where the administration was warned that information was questionable, yet they turned around and presented it as fact to the American people.

"This most recent example underscores just how important it is that the Senate Intelligence Committee get to the bottom of whether this administration knowingly misrepresented intelligence in making their case for war," he said.

The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, asked on Sunday about the articles on the Qaeda fabricator, did not address the issue specifically but said that both Republicans and Democrats, including those in the Clinton administration, "came to the same conclusion, that Saddam Hussein was a threat and a threat that needed to be addressed."

Pointing to the findings of the Robb-Silberman commission, he said that "we've taken steps to make sure that we have the best possible intelligence" and that "we are acting to address the problems."

Democrats have sought to link Mr. Libby's prosecution to the use of intelligence on Iraq, and on Sunday they stepped up calls for greater accountability at the White House for anyone implicated in the Libby case.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said on "Meet the Press" on NBC that Karl Rove, the senior presidential adviser, "should leave" the White House because he was found to have had discussions with reporters about the C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson. And even some Republicans suggested that a housecleaning was in order.

"The president should be, in my opinion, reviewing and analyzing and putting some deep perspective into who's around him at the White House," said Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, on "This Week" on ABC. "And if I was the president, I think I'd want to enlarge and widen that group, and start making some serious review and inventory of what has happened in the last five years that's gotten him into so much trouble."

    No Evidence of Pressure on Iraq Data, Senator Says, NYT, 7.11.2005,






Report Warned Bush Team

About Intelligence Doubts


November 6, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al 8Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.’’

The newly declassified portions of the document were made available by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Levin said the new evidence of early doubts about Mr. Libi’s statements dramatized what he called the Bush administration’s misuse of prewar intelligence to try to justify the war in Iraq. That is an issue that Mr. Levin and other Senate Democrats have been seeking to emphasize, in part by calling attention to the fact that the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee has yet to deliver a promised report, first sought more than two years ago, on the use of prewar intelligence.

An administration official declined to comment on the D.I.A. report on Mr. Libi. But Senate Republicans, put on the defensive when Democrats forced a closed session of the Senate this week to discuss the issue, have been arguing that Republicans were not alone in making prewar assertions about Iraq, illicit weapons and terrorism that have since been discredited.

Mr. Libi, who was captured in Pakistan at the end of 2001, recanted his claims in January 2004. That prompted the C.I.A., a month later, to recall all intelligence reports based on his statements, a fact recorded in a footnote to the report issued by the Sept. 11 commission.

Mr. Libi was not alone among intelligence sources later determined to have been fabricating accounts. Among others, an Iraqi exile whose code name was Curveball was the primary source for what proved to be false information about Iraq and mobile biological weapons labs. And American military officials cultivated ties with Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group, who has been accused of feeding the Pentagon misleading information in urging war.

The report issued by the Senate intelligence committee in July 2004 questioned whether some versions of intelligence report prepared by the C.I.A. in late 2002 and early 2003 raised sufficient questions about the reliability of Mr. Libi’s claims.

But neither that report nor another issued by the Sept. 11 commission made any reference to the existence of the earlier and more skeptical 2002 report by the D.I.A., which supplies intelligence to military commanders and national security policy makers. As an official intelligence report, labeled DITSUM No. 044-02, the document would have circulated widely within the government, and it would have been available to the C.I.A., the White House, the Pentagon and other agencies. It remains unclear whether the D.I.A. document was provided to the Senate panel.

In outlining reasons for its skepticism, the D.I.A. report noted that Mr. Libi’s claims lacked specific details about the Iraqis involved, the illicit weapons used and the location where the training was to have taken place.

“It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers,’’ the February 2002 report said. “Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.’’

Mr. Powell relied heavily on accounts provided by Mr. Libi for his speech to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, saying that he was tracing “the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda.’’

At the time of Mr. Powell’s speech, an unclassified statement by the C.I.A. described the reporting, now known to have been from Mr. Libi, as “credible.’’ But Mr. Levin said he had learned that a classified C.I.A. assessment at the time stated “the source was not in a position to know if any training had taken place.’’

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Levin also called attention to a portion of the D.I.A. report that expressed skepticism about the idea of close collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda, an idea that was never substantiated by American intelligence but was a pillar of the administration’s prewar claims.

“Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements,’’ the D.I.A. report said in one of two declassified paragraphs. “Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.’’

The request to declassify the two paragraphs was made on Oct. 18 by Mr. Levin and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. In an Oct. 26 response, Kathleen P. Turner, chief of the D.I.A.’s office for Congressional affairs, said the agency “can find no reason for it to remain classified.’’

At the time of his capture, Mr. Libi was the most senior Qaeda official in American custody. The D.I.A. document gave no indication of where he was being held, or what interrogation methods were used on him.

Mr. Libi remains in custody, apparently at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was sent in 2003, according to government officials.

The Senate intelligence committee is scheduled to meet beginning next week to review draft reports prepared as part of a long-postponed “Phase II’’ of the panel’s review of prewar intelligence on Iraq. At separate briefings for reporters on Friday, Republicans staff members said the writing had long been under way, while Senate Democrats on the committee claimed credit for reinvigorating the process, by forcing the closed session. They said that already nearly complete is a look at whether prewar intelligence accurately predicted the potential for an anti-American insurgency.

Other areas of focus include the role played by the Iraqi National Congress, that of the Pentagon in shaping intelligence assessments, and an examination of whether public statements about Iraq by members of the Bush and Clinton administrations, as well as members of Congress, were substantiated by intelligence available at the time.

    Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts, NYT, 6.11.2005,






Le cabinet de Dick Cheney

accusé d'avoir autorisé la torture en Irak


03.11.05 | 20h37 • Mis à jour le 03.11.05 | 21h07


Le bureau du vice-président américain Dick Cheney est à l'origine des directives ayant conduit des militaires américains à torturer des prisonniers en Irak et en Afghanistan, a affirmé, jeudi, un ancien haut responsable du département d'Etat.

Le colonel Laurence Wilkerson, qui fut directeur de cabinet de l'ancien secrétaire d'Etat Colin Powell a déclaré, sur les ondes de la radio publique (NPR) qu'il avait trouvé trace d'une série de mémos et de directives autorisant la torture, adressés au département de la défense par les collaborateurs de Dick Cheney. Ces directives contredisaient une autre directive du président George W. Bush, ordonnant à l'armée américaine de respecter la convention de Genève qui interdit de telles pratiques.

"Il y a eu une trace visible allant de la vice-présidence jusqu'aux commandants sur le terrain, en passant par le secrétaire à la défense, pour autoriser la torture afin d'obtenir des renseignements sur le terrain", a affirmé le colonel Wilkerson. "Les directives, a-t-il indiqué, étaient rédigées en termes prudents, mais elles n'en donnaient pas moins aux commandants sur le terrain liberté d'agir, ce qui a abouti à de nombreux cas d'abus contre des prisonniers". Selon lui, "Si vous êtes militaire de carrière, vous savez que pareilles choses ne sont pas permises."



Il a ajouté que M. Powell, lorsqu'il était secrétaire d'Etat, lui avait demandé, après le scandale de la prison d'Abou Ghraïb, d'enquêter pour découvrir comment la torture était devenue un instrument de la politique américaine.

Le Washington Post avait révélé la semaine dernière que M. Cheney est intervenu récemment auprès du Sénat pour obtenir que la CIA soit exemptée de l'obligation de respecter un projet de loi interdisant l'usage de la torture à l'étranger.

Selon M. Wilkerson, le nouveau chef de cabinet de Dick Cheney, David Addington, qui était jusqu'ici conseiller juridique de la vice-présidence, a été un "avocat résolu" pour autoriser le recours à la torture. Il a aussi affirmé que M. Cheney avait créé un Conseil national de sécurité "bis" espionnant et sapant le travail effectué par le conseil national de sécurité du président Bush. Il a ajouté que les membres de ce conseil avaient cessé de recourir aux courriers électroniques en découvrant que les collaborateurs de M. Cheney épluchaient leurs messages.

Il a par ailleurs estimé que l'ancien chef de la CIA, George Tenet "n'avait pas eu le courage" d'informer les services de Dick Cheney de ses doutes sur l'existence d'armes de destruction massive en Irak ou sur les efforts de Saddam Hussein pour s'en doter.

    Le cabinet de Dick Cheney accusé d'avoir autorisé la torture en Irak, Le Monde, 3.11.2005,




Encadré 1


La Chambre des représentants

rejette la demande d'enquête

sur les "abus" de la guerre en Irak

La majorité républicaine à la Chambre des représentants américaine a rejeté jeudi un appel de l'opposition à mener des enquêtes "substantielles" sur les "abus" de la guerre en Irak. La résolution de la chef de file des démocrates, Nancy Pelosi, visant à constater que la majorité "n'a entrepris aucune enquête significative et substantielle sur les abus liés à la guerre en Irak, y compris la manipulation du renseignement avant la guerre" , a été rejetée par 220 voix contre 191. - (Avec AFP)




Encadré 2


Les démocrates exigent l'interdiction de la torture

Les affirmations de la presse selon lesquelles la CIA détient des prisonniers dans des prisons à l'étranger a poussé jeudi l'opposition démocrate à réclamer l'adoption définitive d'un texte interdisant explicitement l'exercice de la torture.Pour le démocrate David Obey, "chaque membre de la Chambre des représentants devrait être capable de voter pour l'amendement" du républicain John McCain, adopté le mois dernier au Sénat par 90 voix contre 9, qui prévoit notamment que tout détenu sous garde américaine, qu'il soit confié à la CIA ou à des militaires, sera à l'abri de "traitements cruels, inhumains, ou dégradants".

La Maison Blanche a menacé d'opposer son veto au budget de la défense si cet amendement était maintenu, mais plusieurs élus démocrates de la Chambre sont montés au créneau pour braver cette menace et reprendre à leur compte l'amendement McCain. "Si nous ne le faisons pas, nous allons continuer à susciter des opinions négatives dans le reste du monde", a notamment expliqué M. Obey. - (Avec AFP)

    Le cabinet de Dick Cheney accusé d'avoir autorisé la torture en Irak > Encadrés, Le Monde, 3.11.2005,















Steve Greenberg        The Ventura County Star, CA        Cagle        3.11.2005














Le conflit irakien,

enjeu de la longue guerre secrète

menée contre la CIA

par le vice-président

et par les faucons

de l'administration américaine


Le Monde
NEW YORK de notre correspondant
Eric Leser


La toile de fond de l'affaire Valerie Plame, cet agent de la CIA dont l'identité a été dévoilée à la presse par des membres de l'administration américaine, est la guerre menée pendant des années par le vice-président, Dick Cheney, contre l'Agence centrale de renseignement.

Jusqu'en mars 2003, elle visait à contraindre la CIA à gonfler l'ampleur des programmes d'armes de destruction massive de Saddam Hussein, afin de justifier l'invasion de l'Irak. L'agence devait à terme porter la responsabilité des erreurs, lorsqu'il fut révélé que les armes n'existaient pas. Pour Lewis Libby, chef de cabinet du vice-président, les attaques de l'ancien ambassadeur Joseph Wilson (mari de Valerie Plame), dénonçant le 6 juillet 2003, dans le New York Times , l'utilisation par le gouvernement de faux renseignements sur l'achat d'uranium au Niger par l'Irak, portaient la marque de la CIA.

L'agence cherchait à se protéger et à se venger. Le fait que Valerie Plame soit un agent de la CIA, et qu'elle ait suggéré en 2002 d'envoyer son mari au Niger pour vérifier les informations, suffisait aux yeux de Lewis Libby à le prouver. Selon les déclarations de Judith Miller, journaliste au New York Times , au grand jury ­ qui doit prononcer les inculpations dans cette affaire ­, Lewis Libby était en rage contre la CIA, lui attribuant la responsabilité des erreurs sur les armes de destruction massive irakiennes et des déclarations inexactes de George Bush.

Dick Cheney est un adversaire historique de la CIA. Secrétaire à la défense dans l'administration de George Bush père et vice-président depuis 2001, il n'a eu de cesse de dénoncer les échecs et les insuffisances de l'agence. Ses critiques ont commencé à la fin des années 1980, quand la CIA a été incapable de prévoir la disparition de l'URSS (fin 1991). Au moment où Saddam Hussein envahit le Koweït, en août 1990, M. Cheney, alors ministre de la défense, constate avec stupéfaction le peu d'informations que détiennent les Etats-Unis sur l'arsenal irakien. Lewis Libby, qui travaillait déjà avec lui, reçoit alors pour mission d'enquêter sur les capacités biologiques de l'armée irakienne.




Juste après l'investiture de George W. Bush en 2001, M. Cheney fait immédiatement de la vice-présidence une place forte en matière de renseignement, un conseil national de sécurité parallèle. M. Cheney ne recevait pas seulement des rapports quotidiens de la CIA, mais assistait à presque toutes les réunions concernant la sécurité nationale où se trouvait le président.

Lors de la préparation de l'invasion de l'Irak, Dick Cheney s'est rendu des dizaines de fois au quartier général de la CIA à Langley (Virginie). Aucun vice-président n'avait fait cela auparavant. Il posait toujours les mêmes questions aux experts sur les armes de destruction massive et les liens entre Saddam Hussein et Al-Qaida, espérant, quand les réponses ne lui convenaient pas, finir par en obtenir d'autres. "Il n'y a aucun doute sur le fait que Saddam a maintenant des armes de destruction massive. Il n'y a aucun doute qu'ils les amassent pour les utiliser contre nos amis, contre nos alliés et contre nous" , déclarait ainsi Dick Cheney, en août 2002, à des vétérans de la guerre de Corée.

Dans son combat contre la CIA, le vice-président avait des alliés puissants, dont Donald Rumsfeld, secrétaire à la défense, et son adjoint d'alors Paul Wolfowitz, eux aussi adversaires de longue date de l'agence. Paul Wolfowitz appartenait à la fameuse "équipeB" créée dans les années 1970 par George Bush père quand il dirigeait la CIA pour contrôler le travail d'experts jugés "trop mous" sur l'URSS. Les rapports alarmistes de "l'équipe B" ont été à l'origine du programme de réarmement et de guerre des étoiles du président Ronald Reagan.

Pour sa part, Donald Rumsfeld dirigeait en 1998 une commission du Congrès sur les "Etats voyous" . Elle avait conclu que la CIA était incapable d'obtenir des informations sur ces nouvelles menaces. Au lendemain du 11 septembre 2001, le Pentagone a créé le Bureau des plans spéciaux (Office of Special Plans). Cette officine, placée sous l'autorité directe de M. Wolfowitz et gérée par le sous-secrétaire à la défense, Douglas Feith, devait analyser le matériel fourni par la CIA et les renseignements militaires et apporter ses propres conclusions à la Maison Blanche. Travaillant à partir des témoignages d'exilés proches du Congrès national irakien et de son président, Ahmed Chalabi, le bureau avait gonflé la menace des armes de destruction massive irakiennes. Depuis, il a été fermé.

A partir de l'été 2003, quand les soldats américains en Irak n'ont pas trouvé la moindre preuve de programmes récents d'armes de destruction massive, l'administration a commencé à prendre peur. La CIA allait révéler les pressions subies. Les attaques de Joseph Wilson étaient un début. Il fallait alors à tout prix détruire sa crédibilité et décourager d'autres dénonciations.

    Le conflit irakien, enjeu de la longue guerre secrète menée contre la CIA
    par le vice-président et par les faucons de l'administration américaine, Eric Leser, Le Monde, 29.10.2005,















Jimmy Margulies

New Jersey -- The Record        Cagle        4.11.2005



George W. Bush, 43d president of the United States.














U.S. Quietly Issues

Estimate of Iraqi Civilian Casualties


October 30, 2005
The New York Times


BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 29 - In the first public disclosure that the United States military is tracking some of the deaths of Iraqi civilians, the military has released rough figures for Iraqis who have been killed or wounded by insurgents since Jan. 1 last year.

The estimate of dead and wounded Iraqi civilians and security forces was provided by the Pentagon in a report to Congress this month.

It appeared without fanfare in a single bar graph on Page 23 of the document. But it was significant because the military had previously avoided virtually all public discussion of the issue.

The count is incomplete - it provides daily partial averages of deaths and injuries of all Iraqis at the hands of insurgents, in attacks like bombings and suicide strikes. Still, it shows that the military appears to have a far more accurate picture of the toll of the war than it has been willing to acknowledge.

"They have begun to realize that when you focus only on the U.S. it gives the impression that the U.S. doesn't care about Iraqis," said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research group in Washington. "In these kinds of political battles you need to count your allies, not just yourself."

According to the graph, Iraqi civilians and security forces were killed and wounded by insurgents at a rate of about 26 a day early in 2004, and at a rate of about 40 a day later that year. The rate increased in 2005 to about 51 a day, and by the end of August had jumped to about 63 a day. No figures were provided for the number of Iraqis killed by American-led forces.

Extrapolating the daily averages over the months from Jan. 1, 2004, to Sept. 16 this year results in a total of 25,902 Iraqi civilians and security forces killed and wounded by insurgents.

According to an analysis by Hamit Dardagan, who compiles statistics for Iraq Body Count, a group that tracks civilian deaths, about three Iraqis are wounded in the war for each one who dies. Given that ratio, the total Iraqi death toll from insurgent violence would be about 6,475, based on extrapolations of the military's figures.

"It strikes me as low," said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch in New York. More Iraqis are dying now in insurgent attacks than at American checkpoints or in American military operations, he said, but the numbers of Iraqis killed by Americans would still add to the overall total.

Indeed, the tally is lower than the 11,163 deaths of Iraqi civilians in the war during the same period counted by Mr. Dardagan's group, which draws its data from reports of deaths and injuries by news services, newspapers and other news outlets.

It is also lower than figures released by Iraq's Interior Ministry showing that 8,175 Iraqi civilians and police officers had been killed by insurgents from August 2004 through May 2005. Even so, the tallies show that the military has been recording Iraqi deaths by insurgents with some regularity since the first months after the invasion.

The casualties were compiled from reports filed by coalition military units after they responded to attacks, said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, in answers to questions from The New York Times sent by e-mail.

The numbers are spotty, he said, because forces do not respond to every attack, and initial on-site counts are often incomplete. The count did not separate the dead from the wounded, nor did it differentiate between civilians and police officers or soldiers.

"These incident reports are not intended to provide - and do not provide - a comprehensive account of Iraqi casualties," Colonel Venable said in his e-mail message. The information in the reports shows "trends in casualties resulting from insurgent attacks."

The report, "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq," was the second of the quarterly accountings mandated by Congress this year in connection with an emergency spending bill. The first, issued in July, was criticized by some members of Congress for providing too few details about the effort in Iraq. The second report, which included the Iraqi casualty figures, was twice as long as the first and was posted on the Department of Defense Web site on Oct. 13.

Colonel Venable said information on civilians was included in the October report "as a result of specific questions posed by Congressional staffers during briefings."

"We were very interested in it," said Timothy Rieser, an aide to Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who sponsored the amendment to the fiscal year 2006 Defense Authorization Bill that calls for casualty details. "After denying that they keep these statistics, it gives the Congress something concrete to ask them about," Mr. Rieser said.

The bar graph was made public, but the data underlying it was not, so the figures used for this article were derived from measuring the bars. Colonel Venable said the information had been classified because it could allow insurgents to assess the effectiveness of their attacks. Mr. Dardagan questioned the secrecy, citing regular releases of American deaths.

"We now know that the U.S. military does keep records of Iraqi civilian deaths," Mr. Dardagan said. "There seems to be no obvious reason for keeping them a secret."

Previously, the military said its records were so incomplete that it would not release any data. In July, Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for the American military in Baghdad, said: "We do not have the ability to get accurate data. We do not have visibility all over Iraq in every location."

After months of playing down casualty counts, the inclusion of the numbers in the report seemed to be an acknowledgment of their importance for the military, which has also begun to regularly report tallies of insurgents killed in American operations.

"You can say everything you want about the numbers not mattering," said Sarah Sewall, a lecturer in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. But the report shows that "we recognize they are important tools for understanding."

There have been some separate attempts at tallying Iraqis killed by American troops. Mohamed al-Musawi, director of the Iraqi Human Rights Organization, said in an interview this week that he had documented 589 Iraqis killed by Americans in Baghdad since 2003.

The military began compiling its figures on casualties stemming from insurgents in June 2003, Colonel Venable said.

Units are required to write reports after they respond to attacks, but they are allowed to decide which details to include.

American military officials have said attacks against Americans and Iraqis have been averaging 85 a day for much of the past year.

It is not clear what proportion of attacks American forces respond to, but Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a spokesman for the American military here, said Thursday that forces respond "whenever we can."

Civilians have moved to center stage in wars since the beginning of the 20th century.

A 2001 study on civilians in war by the International Committee of the Red Cross showed a shift in a stark statistic: In World War I, 9 soldiers were killed for every civilian, while in today's wars 10 civilians die for every soldier.

Civilians are important allies for states trying to prevail in wars against violent insurgencies, and the inclusion of the figures in the report seemed to be an acknowledgment of that, Ms. Sewall said.

American forces take measures to avoid civilian casualties, warning local residents with leaflets and loudspeaker announcements before they begin operations against insurgents.

"I don't question that the intent is one of fighting well," Ms. Sewall said. "The interesting question is: why wouldn't an institution be interested in evaluating its success in minimizing civilian harm?"


Dexter Filkins contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article

and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

    U.S. Quietly Issues Estimate of Iraqi Civilian Casualties, NYT, 30.10.2005,

















Steve Bell        The Guardian        p. 33        27.10.2005



George W. Bush, 43d president of the United States.


Figure it out

Two thousand Americans are dead. Fifty times that many Iraqis are dead;
300 times that many human beings are injured.
One million times that have been indirectly affected by a barbarous act of inhumanity
Casualties of a war a world away, October 26).

War is about numbers. The small number of humans who have much to gain by war.
The large number affected.

The small number who sit home and rally the large number
to send their kids to die physically or mentally.
The largest number who say nothing.

The financial numbers are so huge that millions aren't accounted for,
and millions more are paid in bonuses.

I'm a Vietnam infantry veteran
who has taken the time to peel away the onion of war.
Strip off the uniforms, the flags, the nationalities, the slogans.
War is, at best, the failure of leaders to solve problems.
At worst, war is a massive money-generating machine
with no regard for life. It's all in the numbers.

Arnold Stieber        Grass Lake, Michigan, USA

The Guardian        Thursday October 27, 2005
















Steve Bell

The Guardian        p. 33        28.10.2005



George W. Bush, 43d president of the United States.
White House senior adviser Karl Rove.


Humiliated Bush forced to retreat as moral right turns its guns on him
· Bush losing support among Christian right
· Withdrawal regarded as face-saving attempt

Julian Borger in Washington        The Guardian         Friday October 28, 2005




















Steve Bell

The Guardian        p. 33        26.10.2005



George W. Bush, 43d president of the United States.

Dog = British Prime Minister Tony Blair.


Iraqi constitution yes vote approved by UN

Jonathan Steele        The Guardian         Wednesday October 26, 2005
















Rising Civilian Toll

Is the Iraq War's Silent,

Sinister Pulse


October 26, 2005
The New York Times


BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 25 - The scene was grimly familiar. Three car bombs exploding in rapid succession sent plumes of smoke into the evening sky. The targets were foreign reporters and contractors inside two hotels here. But the victims, as is often the case, were Iraqis.

The war here has claimed about 2,000 American service members, but in the cold calculus of the killing, far more Iraqis have been left dead. The figures vary widely, with Iraqi and American officials reluctant to release even the most incomplete of tallies.

In one count, compiled by Iraq Body Count, a United States-based nonprofit group that tracks the civilian deaths using news media reports, the total of Iraqi dead since the American-led invasion is 26,690 to 30,051.

Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, a nonprofit research group, who has analyzed statistics of American deaths in Iraq, called the group's count "the best guesstimate in town," but warned that the figures were far from complete.

The bombings on Monday, which took place near the Palestine and Sheraton Hotels in central Baghdad, added at least 10 people to the tally, the Interior Ministry said. They were coordinated for maximum damage, exploding just after sunset, when Iraqis were breaking their daily fast for Ramadan. The second bomb, carried in a Jeep Cherokee, killed the largest number of people, including a 19-year-old named Beshir, whose mother wandered aimlessly through the wreckage on Monday night, searching for his body.

"He told me he would leave this dangerous area," said the woman, who was crying and speaking to other women. "Death took him from me before he fulfilled his promise."

The United States military said last week that sweeps it had conducted with Iraqi troops throughout Iraq had trimmed the number of suicide attacks sharply, with 22 attacks in October, compared with 58 in June, not including the blasts on Monday.

But the drop in suicide attacks comes amid an overall rise in violence and a shift in the nature of the killing. Shortly after the invasion, insurgent attacks were aimed almost exclusively at American troops, but as the months passed, Iraqis - civilians, police officers and soldiers - have suffered far greater losses, as insurgents, seeking maximum effect, focus attacks on the softest targets.

The attack on Monday night was the sixth in Wisam Salah's neighborhood, in Firdos Square near the hotels. On Tuesday evening, Mr. Salah, who is Beshir's cousin, was on the street near his home clearing rubble and hanging a door back on its hinges. He spoke angrily about foreigners. They make the area more dangerous for Iraqis, he said.

"They want us as armor for their bodies," he said, his face hard. "They are responsible for this."

An offer of canned beans, rice and sugar from American troops on Tuesday afternoon felt particularly insulting. "Are they making fun of us?" he said, angrily. "Will this bring back those we lost?"

Civilians do appear to be dying at a faster pace. Mr. Cordesman found in a recent analysis of American figures that more than 60 Iraqis were killed daily this year, up from 40 last year.

Adult males make up 82 percent of all Iraqis killed since the American invasion, according to a study released by Iraq Body Count in July. Children account for about 10 percent of the total and women about 8 percent, according to the study.

Mr. Salah saw Beshir an hour before his death. His cousin was smiling - he had just been given a computer. Beshir worked in a lawyer's office serving tea to the clients.

A strange exchange took place between residents and one of the suicide bombers. He was driving slowly toward the Sadeer Hotel, and residents waved at him to stop to save him from nervous hotel guards, said Haidar Abed, a laborer. The bomber looked at them and nodded slightly. Moments later, he detonated his payload, Mr. Abed said.

Among those killed were Iraqi soldiers and at least one police officer. The Iraqi Army and police forces have also suffered significant losses. According to Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks coalition forces' deaths and keeps tabs on deaths among Iraqi security forces through news media reports, 2,150 Iraqi soldiers, commandos and police officers have been killed in attacks so far this year, compared to 1,300 before 2005.

In Mr. Salah's neighborhood, a car mechanic was killed. A family of four was killed just as they parked their blue Volkswagen to go to a nearby restaurant, a hotel guard said.

The sounds of scraping and sweeping filled the quiet of the morning between the two hotels where the bombs had exploded the day before. Cleaners made some macabre finds. A human thigh - most likely that of the bomber who was driving a cement mixer - was nestled near a patch of pink flowers. A foot, dirty with soot and oil, lay on the asphalt near the truck chassis. The man's hands were handcuffed to the steering wheel, said a hotel guard who saw them.

"We are used to this," said Mr. Salah's mother, standing in her kitchen with no glass in the windows. Her 15-year-old son was seriously wounded in the blast.

In the Agriculture Ministry near Mr. Salah's house, the clock stopped at 5:35, the time of the blast. Mr. Abed stretched a long coil of barbed wire across his street at sunset on Tuesday evening.

Qais Mizher and Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article.

    Rising Civilian Toll Is the Iraq War's Silent, Sinister Pulse, NYT, 26.10.2005,



















Jeffrey A. Williams, 20, was killed by a bomb.

His mother, Sandra Williams-Smith, at home in Mansfield, Tex.,

says that she supported her son's ambition,

but that she never supported the war.

Her feelings are shared by many other African-Americans,

according to polls and military experts.


Photograph: Jim Wilson/The New York Times


2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, a Grim Mark        NYT        26.10.2005















2,000 Dead:

As Iraq Tours Stretch On,

a Grim Mark


October 26, 2005
The New York Times


Sgt. Anthony G. Jones, fresh off the plane from Iraq and an impish grin on his face, sauntered unannounced into his wife's hospital room in Georgia just hours after she had given birth to their second son.

For two joyous weeks in May, Sergeant Jones cooed over their baby and showered attention on his wife. But he also took care of unfinished business, selling his pickup truck to retire a loan, paying off bills, calling on family and friends.

"I want to live this week like it is my last," he told his wife.

Three weeks later, on June 14, Sergeant Jones was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on his third tour in a war that is not yet three years old. He was 25.

"It was like he knew he wouldn't come back," said his grandmother, Ima Lee Jones, who buried Sergeant Jones beside towering oaks near her home in Sumter, S.C. "He told me, 'Grandma, the chances of going over a third time and coming back alive are almost nil. I've known too many who have died.' "

Sergeant Jones's tale may be unusual in its heartbreaking juxtaposition of birth and death, but it has become increasingly common among the war dead in one important way: one in five of the troops who have been killed were in their second, third, fourth or fifth tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many of those service members returned voluntarily to war because they burned with conviction in the rightness of the mission. Others were driven by powerful loyalty to units and friends. For some it was simply their job.

But as the nation pays grim tribute today to the 2,000 service members killed in Iraq since the invasion of 2003, their collective stories describe the painful stresses and recurring strains that an extended conflict, with all its demands for multiple tours, is placing on families, towns and the military itself as they struggle to console the living while burying the dead.

"Two tours is more than you should ask anyone to do," said Randall Shafer, 51, an oil industry consultant from Houston whose son, Lance Cpl. Eric Shafer of the Marines, just finished his second tour in Iraq. "They know they could die anywhere at any time. That will take a toll on anybody. And it takes a toll on their families."

The milestone of 2,000 dead was marked yesterday by a moment of silence in the Senate, and President Bush said that "the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission." But the nation seems as divided over the war as it did in September 2004, when the 1,000th death occurred in the midst of a heated presidential campaign.

The differences between the first 1,000 and the second 1,000 dead illuminate recent trends regarding who is serving in Iraq, who is dying and how the war is progressing.

Most strikingly, death has come quicker, a sign of the insurgency's increasing efficiency. While it took 18 months to reach 1,000 dead, it has taken just 14 to reach 2,000. More powerful and sophisticated explosive devices are a major reason, causing nearly half of the deaths in the second group.

Whites, who represent the vast majority of combat troops, accounted for a larger share of the dead among the most recent 1,000, about three out of four. Blacks and Hispanics died at a somewhat slower rate over the last year.

More than 420 service members, the majority of them marines and soldiers, have died while on repeat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. That number is expected to climb steadily as the Pentagon continues to rotate its main front-line combat battalions into Iraq.

The Marine Corps suffered a particularly heavy toll, accounting for a third of the second 1,000 deaths, though marines represent less than 20 percent of the American force in Iraq. Marines have been stationed in some of Iraq's most violent precincts and assigned to lead dangerous anti-insurgent sweeps in restive Sunni areas like Falluja.

The nation's part-time warriors in the National Guard and the Reserve also shouldered a larger burden, accounting for about 30 percent of the deaths, an increase of more than 10 percentage points. The heavier toll came as Guard and Reserve forces were called to combat in larger numbers than at any other time since Vietnam, a role the Pentagon plans to scale back in the coming year.

Every state in the country was represented on the roster of the dead, as were Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, Micronesia, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa. California and Texas had the most deaths, as they did for the first 1,000, followed by New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. At least 17 of the last 1,000 dead were women.

For Iraqis, too, the death toll seems to have accelerated. Estimates for Iraqis are not precise and are subject to much controversy. But according to figures compiled by the allied military forces in Iraq and analyzed by Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, a nonprofit research group, Iraqis have suffered on average more than 50 casualties a day in 2005, including wounded and dead, compared with fewer than 40 a day in 2004.

Iraq Body Count, a nonprofit organization, estimates that 26,000 to 30,000 Iraqi civilians including police officers have died in the entire conflict, though it does not have a figure for military personnel.

Multiple deployments have clearly embittered some American families, driving them to push their children and spouses to quit the military. But others say the willingness, sometimes sheer determination, of loved ones to return to battle has made them see a deeper value in the mission, no matter how deadly or open-ended it may seem.

"I thought initially that we should never have gone to war," said Karen Strain, 51, of North Hero, Vt., whose son, Cpl. Adam J. Strain of the Marines, was killed by a sniper in August.

"But now I feel we have to finish the job," Ms. Strain said, pausing to fight back tears. "Adam gave me more insight for how sad it is for those people, and how we can help give them their freedom. Adam changed my views."




Multiple Tours

With Each One, Death Seems to Loom Larger


It was the tour that was not supposed to happen.

Last year, Sergeant Jones signed a contract with the Army certifying that he would be sent to Kentucky to be trained as a scout and then deployed to Germany. He had already served two tours driving heavy equipment into Iraq from Kuwait, and his wife was pregnant with their second child.

But his unit, the 104th transportation company of the Third Infantry Division, was short of soldiers, and at the last minute the Army changed his orders, dispatching him to Iraq. He dutifully deployed in February, while complaining bitterly about the Army's broken promises and voicing deep concerns about poor equipment.

"He was angry, angrier than I've ever heard," said Ima Lee Jones, his grandmother. "He said, 'I don't mind going. But what the insurgents haven't blown up or burned, we can't get parts to fix. The trucks can't drive more than 40 miles per hour. It's like having a bull's-eye on the door.' "

Sergeant Jones was driving one of those trucks when it was shattered by a roadside bomb on June 14, killing him.

Like Sergeant Jones, more than 300,000 American troops have served more than one tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them in Iraq. But just how those troops and their families are coping with repeat tours is the subject of much study and debate, as repeated deployments to a war zone are a relatively new phenomenon.

In World War II, many service members deployed for the entire war. In Vietnam, conscripts typically served single 12-month tours, rotating through units that remained at war. It was only after 1973, with the all-volunteer military, that the Pentagon began rotating entire units overseas, theorizing that battalions that trained and deployed together would be more cohesive.

Iraq and Afghanistan are the first conflicts since 1973 to demand large continuous rotations of troops.

In dozens of interviews, parents and spouses described the seven-month Marine or 12-month Army deployments to Iraq as periods of unremitting tension.

Roberto Rivera of Chicago, the father of a recently returned marine, said he jogged every day to relieve stress, losing 40 pounds over a seven-month tour. Thomas Southwick of San Diego said he stopped watching the news during his marine son's third tour of duty, which ended in September.

"You're just a constant nervous wreck," Mr. Southwick said, "waiting for a knock on the door."

Many parents said they found second and third deployments more gut-wrenching than first ones, partly because they had learned from their children about the gruesome realities of war, and partly because death seemed to loom larger with each tour.

"How many times can you go out there and be so lucky?" Diana Olson of Elk Grove Village, Ill., said she told her 21-year-old son, Cpl. John T. Olson of the Marines, after his second tour. But he re-enlisted in 2004, only to be killed when a bomb caused his truck to tip over last February on his third tour.

So far, the emotional turmoil of repeated deployments has not taken a toll on re-enlistment rates for the Army or the Marine Corps, which provide most of the American forces in Iraq. Both exceeded their re-enlistment goals this year, aided by signing bonuses of $20,000 and more. But many experts said that could change if the war dragged on and troops were asked to serve more tours in combat.

"Multiple tours have long been a problem for families," said Morten G. Ender, a sociologist at the United States Military Academy at West Point. "And these are dangerous, high-stress tours."

Like many other soldiers, Sergeant Jones was fatalistic about his third tour, telling his wife, Kelly, that he had "a bad feeling" about returning to Iraq. While there, he wrote letters and journal entries musing on death. His wife found one among his belongings after his death.

"Grieve little and move on," he counseled her. "I shall be looking over you. And you will hear me from time to time on the gentle breeze that sounds at night, and in the rustle of leaves."

Mrs. Jones, 26, said she struggled at first to contain her anger that her husband was sent to Iraq instead of Germany. But she has consoled herself with the conviction that he died for a cause he supported. And she firmly rejects the antiwar protests of Cindy Sheehan, saying they dishonor the fallen.

"I hope she doesn't have my husband's name on a cross," Mrs. Jones said. "My husband, if he had a choice, that's how he would want to die. As a soldier."





As Opposition Rises, Black Enlistment Falls


Sandra Williams-Smith never supported the invasion of Iraq, even though she is married to a former Air Force sergeant and has worked on military bases as a nurse. But Mrs. Williams-Smith kept her views mostly to herself, particularly after her oldest son, Jeffrey A. Williams, joined the Army out of high school in 2003. He saw the military as a steppingstone to becoming a doctor, and she encouraged his ambition.

But on Sept. 5, Specialist Williams, a 20-year-old medic, was killed by a roadside bomb in Tal Afar, Iraq. Mrs. Williams-Smith, 42, is silent no more. Though her oldest living son is in the Navy, and her youngest son wants to join the Marines, she openly rages against the war and President Bush.

"It's time to bring these boys home," said Mrs. Williams-Smith, of Mansfield, Tex. "My feelings for Bush are harsh. He should have taken care of the needs of his own people before going across the ocean to take care of someone else's."

The anger Mrs. Williams-Smith, who is black, feels toward the war is shared by many other African-Americans, according to polls, military officials and experts. And that opposition is beginning to have a profound effect on who is joining the military - and potentially who is dying in Iraq, many experts say.

For most of the last three decades, blacks joined the military in disproportionately high numbers, either because they saw it as an equal-opportunity employer or were attracted by its training programs and college benefits. The Army in particular came to rely heavily on blacks to fill its ranks: in the 1980's, about 30 percent of active-duty soldiers were black, Pentagon statistics show.

But black enlistment has fallen off, particularly in the Army, and the war in Iraq is hastening that decline, military officials and experts say. Lower black enlistment means that the military looks more like the United States in terms of racial balance than it did a decade ago, when it was disproportionately black.

This year, about 14 percent of new Army recruits were black, down from nearly 23 percent in 2001. Army officials say improved job opportunities in other fields is one reason. But a study commissioned by the Army last year also concluded that more young blacks were rejecting military service because they opposed the war, or feared dying in it.

"More African-Americans identify having to fight for a cause they don't support as a barrier to military service," the study concluded.

Not all blacks feel that way. Specialist Toccara R. Green joined the junior R.O.T.C. as an ebullient freshman at a Baltimore high school and became enraptured with the discipline and camaraderie of military life. Even after Specialist Green, 23, was killed by a roadside bomb in August, her parents continued to see the Army as a proud and honorable career.

"Toccara hated Iraq, but she loved the military," her mother, Yvonne, said. "It was in her blood."

Polls indicate that support for the war has dropped among whites as well. But the disparity between blacks and whites is immense: while 45 percent of whites said the invasion was a mistake, 77 percent of blacks felt that way, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month.

As black enlistment has declined, whites have come to represent a larger share of the Army's lowest enlisted ranks, and a larger part of the dead: 78 percent for the second 1,000, up from 70 percent in the first 1,000. The death rate for Hispanics and blacks declined in the second group.

Some experts say the increase in white deaths cannot be attributed solely to lower black recruitment, asserting that more study is needed before any conclusions are drawn. But there is broad agreement among military experts that if black enlistment continues to fall, it could create long-term manpower problems for the Army.

In many ways, Patricia Roberts is hoping that will be the case.

Ms. Roberts's son, Specialist Jamaal R. Addison, was part of the invasion of 2003 when his convoy was ambushed by Iraqi forces near Nasiriya. The attack became famous because six soldiers, including Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch, were captured. But nine others from the unit died during and after the ambush, including Specialist Addison, who was 22.

After his death, Ms. Roberts, 45, said she lost her job as a customer service representative because she frequently broke down in tears. After much prayer, she resolved to devote her life to offering alternatives to military service to young blacks.

Since then, she has formed a nonprofit foundation named after her son and begun raising money for mentoring, motivational and scholarship programs. Ms. Roberts, who lives near Atlanta, says she will not discourage anyone from joining the military for patriotic reasons. But too many blacks, including her son, have joined solely for the paycheck or college tuition, she asserts.

"If they are saying, 'There's nothing out there, I'm going to end up selling drugs, I can't get a job,' that's when I want to talk to them," she said. "To show them that there are other ways."

Sgt. Jonathan B. Shields, 25, might have been one of those people. The eldest of four children raised by a divorced mother, he saw the military as a way out of his low-income, high-crime section of Atlanta. After marrying a woman with three children in 2003, he also began to see it as a career, re-enlisting while in Iraq last year.

He died in Falluja last November after an American tank ran into him.

His mother, Evelyn Allen, 48, of Decatur, Ga., said she had been unable to work since Sergeant Shields's death. Ms. Allen has sought to relieve her grief by participating in antiwar rallies. But she fears that her protests will not shorten the war. So she is focusing on a more attainable goal: preventing her three living children from joining the military.

"They would not even think about it," Ms. Allen said. "Our loss is just too drastic."





A Love for the Corps, But Weary of the War


From the time he was a child in California playing with G.I. Joe's, to the day he watched the World Trade Center collapse as a high school freshman, Adam Strain knew he wanted to join the Marine Corps.

Horrified that he was so determined to go to war, his parents pushed him to think about college, acting or even modeling. He was tall, athletic and handsome, and the Gap put him in print ads during his junior year of high school in California. By his senior year, an agent thought he could land a part in a hit television show, "Dawson's Creek."

But he was also idealistic, and when a Marine Corps recruiter described the suffering of Iraqi children, he signed up just before graduating from high school in 2003.

"He said, 'I can always do the modeling and acting when I come back,' " said his mother, who now lives in Vermont. " 'This is what I'm needed for now.' "

When Ms. Strain asked why he did not join the Navy to avoid combat, he replied, "I want to be on the front line."

Lance Corporal Strain was killed by a sniper in Ramadi on Aug. 3. He was two weeks short of his 21st birthday, six weeks short of coming home from his second tour of duty.

His unit, the First Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment, or the 1/5, is one of the most battered units in the service that has proportionately taken the heaviest death toll in the war. In three deployments to Iraq, including the invasion, the battalion has suffered about 20 deaths, all but six of those in its most recent tour, which ended in September.

One of the first units to enter Iraq during the invasion, the battalion returned when the insurgency gained momentum in 2004. That April, the 1/5 assisted in the assault on Falluja that left more than 50 Americans dead. It returned early this year to patrol the streets of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, where nearly 700 American troops have been killed, the most of any Iraqi province.

Despite the repeated deployments and heavy casualties, Marine Corps officers say that morale in the 1/5 remains high and that its re-enlistment rate remains strong.

But at a homecoming celebration for 260 members of the 1/5 at Camp Pendleton in late September, many parents who said they loved the Marine Corps also expressed deep weariness with the war, and said they hoped their children had had enough, too.

Bob Krieger, 53, a corporate pilot from near Grand Rapids, Mich., said that during two tours in Iraq, his son had seen a friend shot dead, retrieved the bodies of fellow marines blown to pieces by roadside bombs and endured close calls of his own, including having a rocket-propelled grenade shot through his pant leg.

Now, Mr. Krieger, who initially supported the invasion, says it is time to bring the troops home. "It just feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

His son, Cpl. Jeff Krieger, 23, agreed, saying he planned to leave the Marines next year. "Even $20,000 isn't enough to make me go back," Corporal Krieger said.

Another member of the 1/5, Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr, rejected a $24,000 bonus to re-enlist. Corporal Starr believed strongly in the war, his father said, but was tired of the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq. So he enrolled at Everett Community College near his parents' home in Snohomish, Wash., planning to study psychology after his enlistment ended in August.

But he died in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 during his third tour in Iraq. He was 22.

Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine's girlfriend. "I kind of predicted this," Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. "A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances."

His father, Brian Starr, had been preparing a basement apartment in his home for Corporal Starr to live in after leaving the Marines. Now Mr. Starr plans to turn it into a memorial of sorts, to display Corporal Starr's war ribbons and the neatly folded flag that once draped his coffin. Perhaps he will also install a pool table there to remind people of his son's fun-loving side.

Mr. Starr, an accountant, said he remained convinced that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. But he said he would also like firsthand confirmation that the war, and Corporal Starr's death, were not in vain.

"I'm hoping, my wife is hoping, that we can visit Ramadi," he said, fighting back tears. "And feel safe. And feel like Jeff died for something."

    2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, a Grim Mark, NYT, 26.10.2005,

















Peter Brookes        Times        October 26, 2005


George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States.
















Iraq war will require more sacrifice


Tue Oct 25, 2005
1:51 PM ET
By Steve Holland


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, bracing for the fallout when the U.S. military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000, said on Tuesday the Iraq war will require more time and sacrifice and rejected calls for a U.S. pullout.

"Each loss of life is heartbreaking, and the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom," Bush said, his voice breaking with emotion as he spoke at a luncheon of military wives at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington.

Bush's remarks were aimed at addressing criticism expected when the U.S. death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000.

"This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve," said Bush. "The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced."

Although the Pentagon's official death count since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion remained at 1,993, a half-dozen U.S. military deaths in Iraq in recent days pushed that total on Monday to 1,999. More than 15,000 U.S. troops also have been wounded in combat.

Sensitive to the 2,000 milestone amid waning public support for the war, the Pentagon said each soldier killed in Iraq died for a "noble and historic cause."

"Iraqis and Americans share a common bond and a common purpose. It is a cause worth fighting for," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

Falling support for the war has been one factor pushing down Bush's popularity in public opinion polls, and critics have called on the administration to bring troops home.

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, in a withering Senate floor speech, voiced impatience with Bush's stay-the-course message, and accused the Bush administration of ignoring the lessons of Vietnam and invading Iraq without evidence to support the use of force.

He said if U.S. officials are correct that a civil war in Iraq could be the result if the United States pulled out prematurely, "My question to them is, when and how then do we extract ourselves from this mess?"

About 2,800 Iraqi government security troops have died in action in the war, said a U.S. defense official who asked not to be named. In addition, about 200 British and other allied troops have died, the official said.

According to the Pentagon, about one in five U.S. military deaths in the war have resulted from "nonhostile" circumstances, ranging from medical problems to automobile accidents and suicides, with the rest killed in action.



Bush argued Iraq is making progress by approving a new constitution that clears the way for elections in December and that Iraqi troops are increasingly playing a larger role in fighting the insurgency.

"By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress, from tyranny to liberation to national elections to the ratification of a constitution in the space of 2-1/2 years," he said.

In the Senate, Leahy said once a new Iraqi government is in place, he believed Bush should consult with Congress on "a flexible plan that includes pulling our troops back from the densely populated areas where they are suffering the worst casualties and to bring them home."

Bush said those calling for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq were refuted by a simple question, whether America and other nations would be more or less safe if Iraqi insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden were in control of Iraq.

As he has in recent speeches, Bush linked the Iraqi insurgency with those behind the September 11, 2001, attacks, since al Qaeda followers have spilled into Iraq to fight against the Americans.

He argued that Islamic radicals were intent on overturning Iraq's fledging democracy and using the country as a springboard to try to toss out moderate Arab governments, launch attacks on U.S. targets and create an empire from Spain to Indonesia.

(Additional reporting by Charles Aldinger, Caren Bohan, Tabassum Zakaria and Vicki Allen)

    Bush: Iraq war will require more sacrifice, R, 25.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-25T174932Z_01_YUE563961_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-USA.xml


















American marines patrolling in downtown Ramadi on Thursday

with a robot used to detonate the homemade bombs planted by insurgents.



Scott Nelson/World Picture News, for The New York Times


Unseen Enemy Is at Its Fiercest in a Sunni City       

NYT        23.10.2005
















Unseen Enemy Is at Its Fiercest

in a Sunni City


October 23, 2005
The New York Times


RAMADI, Iraq, Oct. 22 - The Bradley fighting vehicles moved slowly down this city's main boulevard. Suddenly, a homemade bomb exploded, punching into one vehicle. Then another explosion hit, briefly lifting a second vehicle up onto its side before it dropped back down again.

Two American soldiers climbed out of a hatch, the first with his pant leg on fire, and the other completely in flames. The first rolled over to help the other man, but when they touched, the first man also burst into flames. Insurgent gunfire began to pop.

Several blocks away, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Rosener, 20, from Minneapolis, watched the two men die from a lookout post at a Marine encampment. His heart reached out to them, but he could not. In Ramadi, Iraq's most violent city, two blocks may as well be 10 miles.

"I couldn't do anything," he said of the incident, which he saw on Oct. 10. He spoke quietly, sitting in the post and looking straight ahead. "It's bad down there. You hear all the rumors. We didn't know it was going to be like this."

Here in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, Sunni Arab insurgents are waging their fiercest war against American troops, attacking with relative impunity just blocks from Marine-controlled territory. Every day, the Americans fight to hold their turf in a war against an enemy who seems to be everywhere but is not often seen.

The cost has been high: in the last six weeks, 21 Americans have been killed here, far more than in any other city in Iraq and double the number of deaths in Baghdad, a city with a population 15 times as large.

"We fight it one day at a time," said Capt. Phillip Ash, who commands Company K in the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, which patrols central Ramadi.

"Some days you're the windshield," he said, "some days you're the bug."

Ramadi is an important indicator of just how long it may be before an American withdrawal.

The city has long been a haven for insurgents, but it has never fallen fully into enemy hands, as Falluja did last fall, when marines could not even patrol before an invasion in November. Senior commanders here will not rule out a full invasion, but for now, the checkpoints and street patrols continue.

Because troop levels have stayed steady here, Ramadi also differs from Tal Afar, a rebel stronghold near the Syrian border, where Americans laid siege only to have to return later because they were unable to leave enough troops to secure it.

Still, more than two years after the American invasion, this city of 400,000 people is just barely within American control. The deputy governor of Anbar was shot to death on Tuesday; the day before, the governor's car was fired on. There is no police force. A Baghdad cellphone company has refused to put up towers here. American bases are regularly pelted with rockets and mortar shells, and when troops here get out of their vehicles to patrol, they are almost always running.

"You can't just walk down the street for a period of time and not expect to get shot at," said Maj. Bradford W. Tippett, the operations officer for the Third Battalion.

Capt. Rory Quinn, a Bronx native who majored in international relations at Boston University, used a mixed analogy: "It's kind of like playing basketball: short sprints. Everything we do here is a minefield."

Commanders remain hopeful that Iraqi soldiers will soon be able to take full responsibility for the city. The number of Iraqi Army soldiers here has doubled in recent months. A city council has begun to work, and a local police force is being trained. But the relentlessness of the insurgent violence here ties the American units to the streets, forcing them to focus on the fight.

"We've never given them the chance to breathe, but it continues to be one of the most violent places," said Lt. Col. Roger B. Turner, commanding officer of the Marine battalion, which is attached to the Army's Second Brigade Combat Team.

The vast majority of Americans killed here since September have been victims of homemade bombs, what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s. Sgt. William Callahan, a member of the bomb disposal team stationed with the Third Battalion, estimated that troops hit four such bombs a day in Ramadi. Most do not result in death or serious injury. Almost all are remotely detonated, which means someone is hiding in wait for coming vehicles.

Besides the two soldiers who died near Corporal Rosener's post, seven soldiers, including two Iraqis, in a Bradley were victims of homemade bombs in eastern Ramadi a week ago. Bombs killed one marine in a Humvee on Oct. 4, and five soldiers were killed in a Bradley on Sept. 28.

Gunnery Sgt. Jose C. Soto, the bomb squad's leader, said insurgents in Ramadi were highly trained, making bombs by linking several large artillery rounds together. They use fuel enhancements, like gasoline mixed with sugar, to cling to a victim's body and make a bigger fire, said First Lt. Bradley R. Watson, 27, of the battalion's Company L.

The Oct. 4 attack is an example. The area was rarely traveled by troops and was laced with explosives. Sergeant Callahan said 10 I.E.D.'s went off in the area that day. At 7:18 a.m., insurgents set off three explosives from holes in the road under a convoy, flipping a Humvee onto its back. Fuel gushed, making a pool on the ground, and a marine trapped under the vehicle was barely able to keep his mouth above the rising fluid. A Navy medic riding in the Humvee lost his leg but still gave first aid. The driver was killed instantly.

"It's like being caught in the undertow of a wave," said Lieutenant Watson, who was slightly hurt in the attack - the third time he has been wounded in Iraq. "Everything flips around. Everybody is shouting."

Snipers are a constant plague. In one area of the city, snipers have hit four Americans since late August, and soldiers were obliged to set up blast walls for security for a polling center there last week in the dark. A law school in eastern Ramadi had to be shut down because sniper attacks were coming from it at night.

"It's like everyone in this town is a sniper," said Muhammad Ali Jasim, an Iraqi soldier who has been stationed here since May. "You can't stand in one place for long."

"You get a workout," Corporal Rosener said. "It's all running. Running from building to building."

But closeness to the insurgents - a popular sniping position is in the hotel across the street from the marine camp in the governor's office - has given the Americans a better look at their enemy. The marines of Company K have seen arms pulling dead or wounded insurgents away from the hotel's windows.

Insurgent groups appear to be numerous and fractious. Religious and militant graffiti are scrawled on walls. Colonel Turner said he saw a man on Thursday giving out leaflets exhorting citizens to ignore any mujahedeen literature that did not bear the symbol of the Islamic Army militant group - two crossed swords draped with a black flag.

Ansar al-Sunna, another militant group, claimed to have killed four Iraqi contractors here on Friday.

Many of their techniques directly involve Ramadi residents. One is to use telephones to track American raids: Captain Quinn said he had heard the phone ring in houses along a block they were searching, and when the owner of the house they were standing in did not pick up, the calls stopped - the insurgents had found them.

The line between civilians and insurgents is blurry in Ramadi. In a twist that sets it apart from other violent cities, insurgents usually do not attack civilians in large groups. There have been no suicide bombings in recent memory, and I.E.D.'s are rarely placed close to houses. Insurgents have left alone American projects that deliver services that locals want, like the installation of 18 transformers last month for more power. And when the streets empty out, the Americans know an attack is imminent.

"The population clearly gets the word - there's a network out there," Colonel Turner said at the Third Battalion's camp, in an old palace on the Euphrates. "The average population has to go against them" or the fighting will continue, he said, referring to the insurgents.

Maj. Daniel Wagner, a civil affairs officer with the battalion, spends his days trying to draw in locals. But progress in Ramadi is measured in inches. Much of his time is spent patching and paving roads to prevent bombings, and planning demolitions to take away sniper nests - work he has sardonically referred to as urban renewal. Two parks are planned, as is a new police station. But the violence is a major hindrance.

"I should be able to just drive over," he said. "You need a four-vehicle convoy, you're out of breath, you're sweating, you sit down and say, 'Do you feel safe here? O.K., I've got to get out of here now.' "

The task is more difficult in that Anbar is one of Iraq's three poorest provinces, according to a survey conducted by the United Nations in 2004. Impoverished locals are easily recruited by insurgents. Captain Quinn said bomb makers usually carried $500 in their pockets - half the fee, he estimated, for the job, the rest being paid after detonation.

So far, reaching out to locals and persuading them to shut out insurgents seems a distant goal. Among the obstacles is the very armor that the troops so badly need for protection: on Ramadi's streets, marines in Humvees might as well be astronauts in orbit.

On one patrol last week, a marine from Florida smiled through several inches of bulletproof glass at a tiny boy in blue pants and a dinosaur shirt. The boy solemnly stood beside the Humvee, motioning with his arms - perhaps asking for a treat. The marine shook his head and shrugged, unable to understand.

The most immediate way forward, military commanders here agree, is training and deploying more Iraqi soldiers. Of the seven battalions in Ramadi, three are in eastern Ramadi with their own territory to patrol, said Maj. William R. Fall, the Iraqi Security Force coordinator. Still, only about a company and a half is based inside the central and western parts of the city.

Officers said Iraqi soldiers had vastly improved over the past year. The day of the referendum here was violent, with mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attacks raining down on many of the stations. But Iraqi soldiers stayed at their positions and returned fire when under attack, marines near the sites reported.

"I see incremental progress every single day," Captain Quinn said. "It's working, but it's not a three-month affair."


Qais Mizher contributed reporting for this article.

    Unseen Enemy Is at Its Fiercest in a Sunni City, NYT, 23.10.2005,


















Soldiers at a United States camp in Baghdad

passed by busts of Saddam Hussein Monday.

The former dictator will appear in court Wednesday.


David Furst/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Hussein Goes on Trial Tomorrow, and Iraqis See a First Accounting

By JOHN F. BURNS        NYT        Published: October 18, 2005















News Analysis

Administration's Tone Signals

a Longer, Broader Iraq Conflict


October 17, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 - For most of the 30 months since American-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration has argued that as democracy took hold in Iraq, the insurgency would lose steam because Al Qaeda and the opponents of the country's interim government had nothing to offer Iraqis or the people of the Middle East.

Over time, President Bush told troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., this spring, "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."

But inside the administration, that belief provides less solace than it once did. Senior officials say the intelligence reports flowing over their desks in recent months argue that even if democratic institutions take hold, the insurgency may strengthen. And that possibility has created a quandary for an administration that desperately wants to equate democracy-building with winning the war, but so far has not been able to match the two.

That internal struggle was evident this weekend, as Mr. Bush returned to Washington sounding less celebratory about Iraq's constitutional referendum - whose outcome is suspected but still unknown - than he did after Iraq's elections last January. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking from London on "Fox News Sunday," was somewhat more definitive: "The Sunnis are joining the base of this broad political process," she said. "That will ultimately undo this insurgency. But of course, they can still pull off violent and spectacular attacks."

Mr. Bush's own way of talking about the future, in Iraq and beyond, has undergone a subtle but significant change in recent weeks. In several speeches, he has begun warning that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." While he still predicts victory, he appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions.

It is a very different tone than administration officials sounded in the heady days after Saddam Hussein's fall, and then his capture.

After an extensive debate inside the White House, Mr. Bush has begun directly rebutting the arguments laid out in manifestos and missives from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mr. bin Laden's top aide.

He did so again on Saturday, quoting from one of Mr. Zawahiri's purported letters - one whose authenticity is still the subject of some question - which predicted that the Iraq war would end as Vietnam had, and that, in Mr. Bush's words, "America can be made to run again." The president argued anew that the terrorist leader was "gravely mistaken."

"There's always the question of whether we give these guys more credibility by directly addressing their arguments," one of Mr. Bush's most senior aides said recently. "But the president was concerned that we hadn't described Iraq to the American people for what it is - a struggle of ideologies that isn't going to end with one election, or one constitution, or even a string of elections."

For an administration that has recalibrated and re-explained its strategy in Iraq many times in the past 30 months, this latest turn may be a recognition of changed realities.

A year ago, Mr. Bush interpreted his re-election as the nation's embrace of his strategy and its willingness to bear the cost in lives and money to get Iraq on its feet. But now, the pressure is building for a pathway out. The passage of the constitution, some of Mr. Bush's political aides say, would be bound to fuel those calls.

"All fall, we've been hearing the question, 'When does this begin to end?' " one of Mr. Bush's senior strategists said a few weeks ago, insisting on anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue inside the White House. The White House, he added, was trying to head off what some officials fear could be a broader split in the party over the war come spring, as midterm elections approach and Republicans seeking re-election are tempted to join the call for a timetable for drawing down troop levels.

The change is clear in what Mr. Bush is saying - but also in what he and his aides are no longer saying.

In the prelude to the war and in the early days of the occupation, Mr. Bush and top members of his national security team compared the effort to remake Iraq to the American occupations of Japan and Germany. As the insurgency grew - a feature missing from those two successful occupations - they dropped that comparison. Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state under Colin L. Powell, argued in an interview recently published by an Australian magazine, The Diplomat, that it was a flawed way of thinking from the start.

"Those who argued at the time that the acceptance of democracy in Iraq would be easy, and who drew on our experience with Japan and Germany, were wrong," he said. "First of all, Germany and Japan were homogeneous societies. Iraq is not." He added that the German and Japanese populations were "exhausted and deeply shocked by what had happened," but that Iraqis were "un-shocked and un-awed."

Now administration officials are beginning to describe the insurgency as long-lasting, more akin to Communist insurgencies in Malaysia or the Philippines, but with a broader and more deadly base. Even conservatives who supported Mr. Bush's decision to go to war say the change in tone is welcome.

"I think the president has been consistent," said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who has written extensively on the nature of civilian command and is sometimes consulted by the administration. "But they've had people, myself among them, beating them up for happy talk and not making an argument" about the nature of the struggle.

"I do think they are making more of an effort to explain themselves," he added. "But it took pressure from their friends, and political pressure as well, to overcome a reluctance about what they were really doing."

Others take a harsher view. Kenneth Pollack, a former C.I.A. analyst and now a scholar at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, said Mr. Bush's new tone reflected "the fact that their whole theory about how this is going to work out isn't working, and almost certainly isn't going to work." He added, "The theory that democracy is the antidote to insurgency gets disproven on the ground every day."

The real test may come after parliamentary elections, which, if the constitution is found to have passed this weekend, are scheduled for Dec. 15. After that date, a senior administration official noted with some dread in his voice, "there are no more democratic landmarks for us to point to - that's when we learn whether the Iraqi state can stay together."

    Administration's Tone Signals a Longer, Broader Iraq Conflict, 17.10.2005,






Senate Approves

Additional $50 Billion for War Effort


October 7, 2005
The New York Times
Filed at 10:57 a.m. ET


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate voted Friday to give President Bush $50 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military efforts against terrorism, money that would push total spending for the operations beyond $350 billion.

In a 97-0 vote, the GOP-controlled Senate signed off on the money as part of a $445 billion military spending bill for the budget year that began Oct. 1. The measure would also put restrictions on the treatment of detainees who are suspected terrorists -- a provision that has drawn a White House veto threat and demonstrated a willingness by Republican lawmakers to challenge Bush.

Passage comes at a time when public support for Bush and the Iraq fighting has slipped, U.S. casualties have climbed and Congress has grown increasingly frustrated with the direction of the conflict.

The Senate bill provides $5 billion more for the wars than the House version. The final bill is expected to include the full $50 billion extra after House-Senate negotiators work out their differences over the coming weeks.

''It's absolutely necessary to support our people who are in the field, both in uniform and who do intelligence work throughout the world,'' said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the chairman of the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee.

Senators rushed to finish the bill before leaving Friday for a 10-day recess because military officers have informally told them they will need the money by mid-November to continue war operations. The Bush administration has not formally requested more war money, but costs are certain with no end to the Iraq conflict in sight.

Stevens said the $50 billion should last through the first half of the year, but acknowledged that Congress likely will have to approve more money for wars in May or June.

Overall, both the Senate and House bills provide for a 3.1 percent pay raise for the military and increased benefits for troops. But the bills differ in other areas.

Bucking the White House, the Senate added an amendment sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to ban cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment against anyone in U.S. government custody. The amendment also would standardize how service members detain and interrogate terrorism suspects by requiring the military to follow the Army Field Manual that outlines acceptable techniques. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The Senate action shows that members of the president's own party are concerned about his wartime policies. Their worries reflect those of their skeptical constituents. Public opinion polls show declining American support for the war that has so far claimed the lives of more than 1,940 U.S. military members.

Bush administration officials say the provision would limit the president's authority and flexibility, and the White House says advisers would recommend a veto of the entire spending bill if it includes provisions that would hurt efforts in the war on terror.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday that some of the wording about detainees was unnecessary and duplicative, and that the administration hoped to press the concerns with congressional negotiators.

Support for the provision in the GOP-controlled House is unclear.

Stevens said he will try to tweak the language in House-Senate negotiations to makes sure that it doesn't endanger the lives of non-military intelligence officials who work for the United States. ''I'm talking about people who aren't in uniform, may or may not be citizens of the United States, but are working for us in very difficult circumstances,'' he said.

The Congressional Research Service, which writes reports for lawmakers, says the Pentagon is spending about $6 billion a month for Iraq and $1 billion for Afghanistan, and war costs could total $570 billion by the end of 2010, assuming troops are gradually brought home.

CRS analysts say that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress has given the president about $311 billion for combat and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and securing U.S. bases. About $280 billion has gone to the Pentagon, while $31 billion has been provided for foreign and diplomatic operations.

Excluding the $50 billion in war money and $5 billion in emergency money the Senate added, the bill totals $390 billion -- about $7 billion less than what the president had requested for the Defense Department. The House bill totals $364 billion, but it is not directly comparable to the Senate version.

The $5 billion in emergency money in the Senate bill was not in the House version. About $4 billion of that would be used to stockpile medicine to protect people against bird flu and prepare for a potential outbreak. The other $1 billion would replenish National Guard and Reserve equipment.

    Senate Approves Additional $50 Billion for War Effort, NYT, 7. 10.2005,






Bush says more sacrifice

needed in war on terror


Thu Oct 6, 2005
12:57 PM ET
By Steve Holland


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Thursday rejected critics of the Iraq war who demand a U.S. pullout and cast the conflict as necessary to prevent Islamic militants from gaining a foothold for a sweeping empire.

"We will never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory," Bush said in a speech on Washington's war on terrorism.

Bush used new and more specific language in characterizing the opponents as part of an Islamic radical movement "with a clear and coherent ideology" and territorial ambitions, rather than dismissing them as the terrorist "evildoers" of his early speeches on the issue.

It was part of a White House effort to rebuild waning American support for the Iraq war amid an upsurge of violence ahead of a planned October 15 referendum on an Iraqi constitution.

Bush firmly rejected those who demand a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, saying to pull out would leave the country's fledgling government exposed to supporters of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the group's leader in Iraq, Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"Having removed a dictator and aided free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers dedicated to the destruction of our own country seizes control of Iraq by violence," he said.

Bush sought to put the Iraq war in a global context, calling it a central front in the war on terrorism, and accusing al Qaeda militants and their supporters of seeking to overthrow moderate Arab governments and to attack U.S. targets.

He said the United States and its allies had disrupted 10 serious al Qaeda plots since the September 11, 2001, attacks, three inside the United States.



Bush dwelt for a good part of his speech on the aspirations of militants as he tried a new approach to convincing Americans of the seriousness of the war on terrorism.

"The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that expands from Spain to Indonesia," Bush said.

Citing recent attacks in London, Sharm el-Sheikh and Bali, Bush said while the bombings appeared random, they serve a clear ideology, "a set of beliefs that are evil but not insane," and gave a new name for the ideology: Islamo-fascism.

A CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll last month said only 32 percent of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the war, which he launched in 2003 citing the threat of weapons of mass destruction possessed by Saddam Hussein's government.

Since such weapons were never found, and al Qaeda followers have spilled into Iraq to fight against the Americans, Bush now calls Iraq a central focus of the war on terrorism he launched after the September 11 attacks.

His remarks were aimed at an increasingly restive American public, which is weary of daily television images of bombings from Iraq and holding funerals for the more than 1,900 Americans killed in Iraq.

"Wars are not won without sacrifice, and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve. The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced," he said.

Democrats did not hear what they wanted from Bush. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Bush failed to outline a strategy for achieving military, political and economic success in Iraq.

"Instead, the president continued to falsely assert there is a link between the war in Iraq and the tragedy of September 11th, a link that did not and does not exist," he said.

Bush also gave an implicit warning to Syria and Iran, accusing them of supporting radical groups.

"State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them because they're equally as guilty of murder," he said.

There was a time when the name bin Laden rarely crossed Bush's lips publicly -- partly it seemed to avoid raising the issue of why the United States had failed to track him down -- but Bush invoked the name of the elusive al Qaeda leader several times in making the case against bin Laden's style of Islam.

"Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims: 'What is good for them and what is not.' And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this is the road to paradise, though he never offers to go along for the ride," Bush said.

    Bush says more sacrifice needed in war on terror, R, 6.10.2005,

















Trois ans de prison pour Lynndie England

Liberation.fr        28.9.2005















Private Gets 3 Years

for Iraq Prison Abuse


September 28, 2005
The New York Times


FORT HOOD, Tex., Sept. 27-Pfc. Lynndie England, a 22-year-old clerk in the Army who was photographed with naked Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for her role in the scandal.

After the sentence was announced, Private England hung her head and cried briefly before hugging her mother, one of the few signs of emotion she showed in the six-day trial.

She had been found guilty on Monday of one count of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, four counts of maltreatment and one count of committing an indecent act.

She made no comment on Tuesday as she was led out of the courthouse in handcuffs and leg shackles.

Earlier in the day, though, she took the stand and apologized for abusing the prisoners, saying her conduct was influenced by Private Charles A. Graner Jr., her boyfriend at the time.

She said she was "embarrassed" when photographs showing her posing next to naked detainees became public in 2004.

"I was used by Private Graner," she said. "I didn't realize it at the time."

Often groping for words and staring downward, Private England directed her apology to the detainees and to any American troops and their families who might have been injured or killed as a result of the insurgency in Iraq gaining strength.

Prosecutors argued on Tuesday that the anti-American feeling generated in Arab and Muslim countries by the Abu Ghraib scandal justified sentencing Private England to four to six years in prison and dishonorably discharging her from the Army. The charges the jury found her guilty of on Monday carried a maximum penalty of nine years.

"I can't think of another incident that has more tarnished the reputation of the United States Army," Capt. Chris Graveline, the lead prosecutor, told the jury of five officers, several of whom have served in Iraq. "Has this abuse had an impact on our war in Iraq? Definitely."

But Private England's lawyer, Capt. Jonathan Crisp, urged them to "let her go home" to West Virginia without prison time and live with the "stigma" of what she had done.

Appealing to the jury as a mother, Private England described her fear after the photos of the mistreatment became public. She said she was scared she would be sent to prison, separated from her young son, whose father is Private Graner.

"I was scared I'd have to leave him and he wouldn't know me when I returned, and he wouldn't view me as his mother, he'd view me as a stranger," she said.

Private England will be eligible for parole after a year, prosecutors said. She can also appeal the sentence, the third longest received by the nine soldiers found guilty in the Abu Ghraib abuse.

She said she was drawn to Private Graner, a member of the same reserve unit, because he showered her with attention and made her feel safe.

"He was very charming, funny and at the time it looked to me like he was interested in the same things I was," she said. "Now I know it was all an act, to lure me in, I guess."

Testifying earlier in the day for the defense, Private Graner conceded that Private England had been susceptible to his influence. "She's young," he said. "She's suggestible, sir."

Prosecutors told jurors to discount Private England's post-conviction apology. Captain Graveline read names of Iraqi prisoners forced into sexually humiliating poses in the pictures with Private England.

"The accused stands up and says, 'I apologize for the photographs,' " he said. "O.K., but what about the abuse?"

Defense lawyers also sought to show that Abu Ghraib was a chaotic, unpleasant place that was frequently under attack. Due to personnel shortages, support soldiers like Private England were sometimes called on to assist prison guards, they said.

Stjepan Mestrovic, a sociology professor at Texas A&M University who was called by the defense, said the officers in charge were responsible for confusion about rules of conduct and unclear lines of authority.

"She was caught up in this chaotic situation that was going on around her, so the abuse was inevitable," Dr. Mestrovic said.

The defense also suggested that the harsh treatment of prisoners stemmed from the presence of military intelligence personnel, who wanted prisoners softened up. But under prosecution questioning, Private Graner admitted that no military intelligence personnel had been present on the night of Nov. 7, 2003, when prisoners were mistreated.

    Private Gets 3 Years for Iraq Prison Abuse, NYT, 28.9.2005,

















Steve Greenberg

The Ventura County Star, CA        Cagle        27.9.2005
















Weapons Sales Worldwide

Rise to Highest Level Since 2000


August 30, 2005


WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 - The value of military weapons sales worldwide jumped in 2004 to the highest level since 2000, driven by arms deals with developing nations, especially India, Saudi Arabia and China, according to a new Congressional study.

The total of arms sales and weapons transfer agreements to both industrialized and developing nations was nearly $37 billion in 2004, according to the study.

That total was the largest since 2000, when global arms sales reached $42.1 billion, and was far above the 2003 figure of $28.5 billion.

The United States once again dominated global weapons sales, signing deals worth $12.4 billion in 2004, or 33.5 percent of all contracts worldwide. But that was down from $15.1 billion in 2003.

The share of American arms contracts specifically with developing nations was $6.9 billion in 2004, or 31.6 percent of all such deals, up slightly from $6.5 billion in 2003.

Russia was second in global arms sales, with $6.1 billion in agreements, or 16.5 percent of all such contracts, a notable increase from its $4.4 billion in sales in 2003. In 2004, Russia signed arms transfer deals worth $5.9 billion with the developing world, 27.1 percent of the global total, up from $4.3 billion in 2003.

Britain was third in arms transfer agreements to the developing world in 2004, signing contracts worth $3.2 billion, while Israel ranked fourth, with deals worth $1.2 billion. France followed with $1 billion.

The report, "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations," is published by the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress.

The annual study, which was delivered to Congress on Monday, is considered by academic experts to be the most thorough compilation of facts and figures on global weapons sales available in the public domain.

The study uses figures in 2004 dollars, with figures for other years adjusted to account for inflation.

The statistics in the report "illustrate how global patterns of conventional arms transfers have changed in the post-cold-war and post-Persian-Gulf-war years," Richard F. Grimmett, a specialist in national defense at the Congressional Research Service, wrote in the introduction to the study.

"Relationships between arms suppliers and recipients continue to evolve in response to changing political, military and economic circumstances," he said. "Nonetheless, the developing world continues to be the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by conventional weapons suppliers."

The study found that arms sales to developing nations in 2004 totaled nearly $21.8 billion, a substantial increase over the $15.1 billion in 2003. That was 58.9 percent of all arms sales agreements worldwide for last year.

Over the last four years, China has purchased more weapons than any other nation in the developing world, signing $10.4 billion in deals from 2001 to 2004. Such statistics could be used by those in the United States government who have argued against any decision by the European Union to lift its arms embargo against China.

For that same four-year period, India ranked second, with $7.9 billion in arms purchases, and Egypt was third, with $6.5 billion in deals.

But India surpassed China in total purchases in 2004, agreeing to buy $5.7 billion in arms.

Saudi Arabia was second in signing arms deals last year, with contracts valued at $2.9 billion, and China was third in 2004, signing $2.2 billion in contracts for arms purchases.

"Presently, there appear to be fewer large weapons purchases being made by developing nations in the Near East," Mr. Grimmett wrote, while relatively larger purchases are being made by developing nations in Asia, "led principally by China and India."

According to the study, the four major West European arms suppliers - Britain, France, Germany and Italy - significantly increased their collective share of arms sales with developing nations between 2003 and 2004, rising to $4.8 billion in 2004 from $830 million in 2003.

    Weapons Sales Worldwide Rise to Highest Level Since 2000, NYT, 30.8.2005,






Bush warns of more sacrifice in Iraq,

protesters rally


Sat Aug 27, 2005 7:09 PM ET
By Jeremy Pelofsky and Adam Entous


CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - Thousands of Iraq war supporters and protesters staged competing rallies near President George W. Bush's Texas ranch on Saturday as he warned Americans to brace for more sacrifice in Iraq.

With almost 1,900 U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war, Bush's job approval rating has plummeted to new lows. He is under increasing pressure from critics to finish training a new Iraqi security force and bring the soldiers home.

But in his weekly radio address, Bush acknowledged there was more work ahead for American soldiers in Iraq.

"Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve," said Bush, who has spent most of August on vacation at his 1,600- acre (648-hectare) ranch.

Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq last year and has camped outside Bush's ranch seeking a second meeting with him to press for the withdrawal of troops, said her efforts would ultimately lead to the end of the war in Iraq.

"I know that the Camp Casey movement is going to end the war in Iraq," she said after folk singer Joan Baez led supporters in singing "Amazing Grace." Rally organizers estimated the crowd at 2,000, although it appeared smaller.

"How many more (soldiers) are you willing to sacrifice before you say enough is enough? How many more are we willing to sacrifice for lies and deception and bullcrap?" Sheehan asked, followed by chants of "Not one more!"

She plans to briefly join a three-week bus tour starting late next week to press her message with lawmakers.

Bush has said withdrawing the troops now would embolden insurgents in Iraq who have sought to derail the drafting of a constitution with attacks on U.S. and Iraqi security forces.

"As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down," Bush said. "And when Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

Police made a handful of arrests, including three people for disorderly conduct at the spot where Sheehan began her vigil along Prairie Chapel Road, which leads to Bush's ranch.

Across town in Crawford, other parents of soldiers who are serving or have died in Iraq countered Sheehan with their own raucous rally that started with a prayer.

Organizer Howard Kaloogian accused Sheehan of "giving hope and encouragement to our enemies."

The crowd, which organizers said topped 3,000 but appeared closer to 1,500, chanted "Cindy, Go Home" and compared her to Jane Fonda, whose visit to a North Vietnamese gun site in 1972 earned her the nickname "Hanoi Jane."

In one heated moment, members of the pro-Bush crowd turned on what they mistakenly thought were a group of anti-war protesters, cursing them, threatening them and tearing down their signs. A police officer rushed the group to safety.

In protest against Sheehan, the parents of several soldiers killed in Iraq had their sons' names and photographs removed from a symbolic gravesite set up by anti-war activists.

"We in no shape or form want his name associated with what's going on here. It's a dishonor to him," John Wroblewski, 53, said of his son, who died in Iraq last year.

Bush called a key Shi'ite leader this week to press for a deal to finish Iraq's constitution, a goal seen as a step toward eventually allowing U.S. soldiers to withdraw. Negotiations on Iraq's constitution have been deadlocked for weeks but are continuing.

"What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion -- not at the barrel of a gun," Bush said.

But the latest Gallup poll showed that just two in five Americans approved of the job the president was doing while 56 percent disapproved of his performance.

    Bush warns of more sacrifice in Iraq, protesters rally, R, Sat Aug 27, 2005 7:09 PM ET, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-08-27T230858Z_01_SCH670855_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-IRAQ-USA-PROTEST-BUSH-DC.XML

















Rex Babin

California, The Sacramento Bee        Cagle        19.8.2005
















Republican senator

likens Iraq war to Vietnam


Sun Aug 21, 2005
4:27 PM ET
By Sue Pleming


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An influential Republican senator said on Sunday the longer the United States stayed bogged down in Iraq, the more the conflict looked like another Vietnam War.

"What I think the White House does not yet understand and some of my colleagues, is the dam has broken on this (Iraq) policy," said Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee and possible presidential candidate in 2008.

A decorated Vietnam War veteran, Hagel also said the war in Iraq had further destabilized the Middle East and the White House needed to find an exit strategy for Iraq.

Hagel's comments on ABC's "This Week," coincide with President George W. Bush's new offensive to counter growing public discontent over U.S. involvement in Iraq and calls for a pull-out date.

The White House rejected Hagel's remarks and said it was essential the United States complete its mission in Iraq.

"The president knows a free and democratic Iraq will help transform a dangerous region and lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said in Crawford, Texas.

"Our policies of the past only allowed the Middle East to become a terrorist breeding ground," he said. "Quitting now wouldn't help anyone except terrorist killers, who certainly aren't quitting their efforts to target innocent people."

Bush is taking his message on the road this week when he will invoke the September 11, 2001, attacks to contend that the United States must stay the course in Iraq.

But the public is showing more discontent with Bush's handling of Iraq, with high-profile protests during his Texas ranch vacation and new poll results showing growing concern over the outcome of the war.

Hagel said there were growing similarities between Iraq and U.S. involvement in Vietnam and he predicted the longer the United States stayed in Iraq the more unpopular it would become.

"We are locked into a bogged down problem not unsimilar or dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay the more problems we are going to have," he said.



Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia, speaking on the same program, strongly disagreed with Hagel's assessment and said there were huge differences between Iraq and Vietnam.

Allen backed the president's view that the Iraq war, which began in March 2003, was a focal point in America's war on terrorism after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

"It is absolutely essential that we win it. We cannot tuck tail and run (from Iraq). We have to prevail. We must win. If we lose, that will destabilize the Middle East," said Allen.

Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin broke ranks with many of his colleagues this week and called for a December 2006 deadline to withdraw from Iraq, arguing this would take the wind out of the sails of the insurgency.

In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," Feingold said if a target date was not set the American public would become more and more disillusioned.

"The president is not telling us the time frame ... what's happening is that the American public is despairing of the situation," said Feingold. "I felt it was time to put on the table an idea and break the taboo," he added.

But fellow Democrat Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, disagreed and said a fixed timetable was not needed.

"The senator (Feingold) is understandably frustrated, like all America is. What we need in Iraq is either a strategy to win or a strategy to get out," he told ABC.

Feingold and Allen are also on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Hagel also did not back Feingold's approach but he said there needed to be a clearer strategy from the White House.

"I don't know how many more casualties we're going to take. We're spending a billion dollars a week now (in Iraq)," said Hagel.

More than 1,800 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and thousands more have been wounded.

"We should start figuring out how we get out of there. But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East," said Hagel.

    Republican senator likens Iraq war to Vietnam, R, Sun Aug 21, 2005 4:27 PM ET, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-08-21T202811Z_01_MOL161657_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-IRAQ-USA-DC.XML

















Rob Rogers

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania        Cagle        26.8.2005
















Bush invokes Sept 11

to defend Iraq war


Sat Aug 20, 2005
4:09 PM ET
By Tabassum Zakaria


CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush launched a counter-offensive against growing public discontent over Iraq on Saturday, when he defended the war as a way of protecting Americans from another September 11 attack, a message he will reinforce when he takes to the road next week.

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war," he said.

Bush next week will speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Utah, and meet with members of the Idaho National Guard and the Mountain Home Air Force Base, which played a leading role in the air bombing campaign in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.

The public is showing more discontent with Bush's handling of Iraq, with high-profile protests during his ranch vacation and new poll results showing nearly six in 10 Americans are worrying about the outcome of the war.

"They're trying to get the public's attention again and remind them of the arguments that once worked with the public," Larry Sabato, director of the center for politics at the University of Virginia, said.

Asked whether the United States was meeting its objectives in Iraq, 56 percent of those polled said it was not and 39 percent said it was. The poll is to be published in next month's issue of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, became a symbol for anti-war protesters after camping near Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch, while he is on vacation, urging the president to bring U.S. troops home.



"He bottomed out on Iraq even before Cindy Sheehan's protest started. Look at the poll numbers, Americans have been increasingly disaffected," Sabato said.

But there is little that Bush can do after ruling out a withdrawal from Iraq in the near-term, Sabato said. "All he can hope for is that conditions improve in Iraq."

More than 1,800 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and thousands more wounded.

"We are running out of time. We need a strategy to win in Iraq or an exit strategy to leave," said Max Cleland, a former Democratic senator from Georgia who lost three limbs in the Vietnam war.

"The present course will lead us to disaster. More of the same just means more precious blood spilled in the desert," he said in the Democratic response to Bush's radio address.

The Bush administration justified going to war in Iraq in 2003 by saying it posed a threat because of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. None have been found.

Critics say Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and that the administration has tried to tie Iraq to terrorism since the war to justify its actions.

"In a few weeks, our country will mark the four-year anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people," Bush said.

"We're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, striking them in foreign lands before they can attack us here at home," he said.

Bush likened the current situation to World War Two when U.S. forces "helped former enemies rebuild and form free and peaceful societies that would become strong allies of America."

He acknowledged the deaths in the current war and said: "We owe these fallen heroes our gratitude, and we offer their families our heartfelt condolences and prayers."

"Now we must finish the task that our troops have given their lives for and honor their sacrifice by completing their mission," he said.

    Bush invokes Sept 11 to defend Iraq war, R, Sat Aug 20, 2005 4:09 PM ET,

















Bill Day        The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee        Cagle        26.8.2005
















In U.S. heartland,

anxiety over Iraq, oil


Thu Aug 18, 2005
11:17 AM ET
By Alan Elsner


BROKEN BOW, Nebraska (Reuters) - In the solidly Republican state of Nebraska, voters are expressing deep anxiety about rising gasoline prices and the war in Iraq, a possible early warning sign for President George W. Bush in one of his most reliable strongholds.

When Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel traveled around his home state this week, citizens at every stop brought up Iraq policy and the inexorable rise in fuel prices.

"Is there anything the United States can do to get some stability in crude oil prices in the world, because it affects everything we do?" Larry Ahlers, a manager at medical device manufacturer Becton and Dickinson in Broken Bow, asked Hagel in one of dozens of such encounters.

Hagel, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2008, responded that gasoline prices were likely to stay high for the foreseeable future because of rising world demand and the U.S. failure to develop new energy sources and conserve.

Earlier the same day in Lincoln, an elderly woman asked about Iraq. "Why are we there in the first place?" she asked.

On Tuesday in the central Nebraska town of Lexington, after a meeting with law enforcement officials on drug problems, three sheriffs expressed serious doubts about what the United States was doing in Iraq and whether it could succeed.

Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, acknowledged the U.S. military presence was becoming harder and harder to justify. He believes Iraq faces a serious danger of civil war that would threaten Middle East stability, and said there is little Washington can do to avert this.

"We are seen as occupiers, we are targets. We have got to get out. I don't think we can sustain our current policy, nor do I think we should," he said at one stop.



In an interview, Hagel said uncertainties over Iraq and oil prices fed off and reinforced each other.

"The mood is one of a certain sense of unsteadiness," he said. "I have sensed that since September 11, 2001. Our people have still not found an equilibrium and when you get these shocks, like gasoline at $2.50 a gallon and projecting natural gas costs doubling and tripling from what they paid last year, that further shakes them."

"I don't think there's panic, I don't think there's cynicism. I think there's this steady unsure sense about where is this all leading -- the constant daily reports on Iraq, our people being killed there, the money being spent there," he added.

Nebraska has been a solid Republican state in presidential elections for decades. Republicans dominate state politics and hold most elective offices.

But Hagel said even some who had previously backed Bush strongly on Iraq now felt deep unease.

"The feeling that I get back here, looking in the eyes of real people, where I knew where they were two years ago or a year ago -- they've changed," he said. "These aren't people who ebb and flow on issues. These are rock solid, conservative Republicans who love their country, support the troops and support the president."

Hagel said Bush faced a growing credibility gap. "The expectations that the president and his administration presented to the American people 2 1/2 years ago is not what the reality is today. That's presented the biggest credibility gap problem he's got," he said.

"I hope he has some sense that something's going on out in the country, that there's a lack of confidence that has developed in our position."

    In U.S. heartland, anxiety over Iraq, oil, R, Thu Aug 18, 2005 11:17 AM ET, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-08-18T151632Z_01_SCH854948_RTRIDST_0_USREPORT-IRAQ-HEARTLAND-DC.XML

















Brian Fairrington        Cagle        24.8.2005
















Anti-war protester Sheehan

to move campsite


Tue Aug 16, 2005
8:55 PM ET
By Caren Bohan


CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, said on Tuesday she is moving her camp closer to President George W. Bush's Texas ranch after being offered the use of a piece of land by a supporter.

The private property was offered by a military veteran who is a distant relative of a man who had fired a shotgun in frustration over her vigil, which has been a growing source of tension in the community.

Sheehan said the hundreds of white crosses put up at her current camp to honor soldiers killed in Iraq would not be moved when she relocates. The crosses were the target of a vandal on Monday night and Sheehan said a small number of people will stay at the original site to watch over them.

"A kind gentleman from down the road, closer to the Bush ranch, has offered us the use of his property," Sheehan told reporters.

"He offered it because he heard about the shots fired at us the other day and he didn't think that was right," she said. "He happens to be the third cousin of the person that fired the shots and so he came down and he said he supports us 100percent."

The move by Sheehan, expected this week, could help ease growing friction with local residents, some of whom are seeking a ban on parking and camping along the country road where she has pitched her tent.

Sheehan, of Vacaville, California, is in the 10th day of her vigil on the side of Prairie Chapel Road leading to Bush's 1,600-acre (647.5-hectare) ranch. She calls her site "Camp Casey," after her 24-year-old son who was killed in combat in Iraq.

Sheehan has demanded a meeting with Bush to urge him to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, where at least 1,855 U.S. troops have been killed.

Bush, who is adamant about not pulling out troops prematurely, has expressed sympathy for Sheehan's grief but the White House has declined a meeting. Sheehan met with Bush in 2004 but wants to talk to him face to face again.

Sheehan's supporters view her as a hero who has re-energized the anti-war movement but critics see her as a publicity-seeking partisan who is dishonoring her son's status as a war hero.

A source in Sheehan's camp identified the property owner as Fred Mattlage, a distant cousin of Larry Mattlage who fired a shotgun over the weekend in frustration over the commotion caused by the vigil. Fred Mattlage was not immediately available for comment.

"And we are not being forced to move," Sheehan said. "This is going to be a better place, we can spread out, we don't have to lay in a ditch, we don't have to stay in a ditch."

Sheehan's vigil has attracted anti-war activists from across the United States -- many of them also relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq -- who arrived to offer support, share a hug with her and join in her daily media events.

But in this quiet farming town of just over 700 people, many residents have found the activity disruptive.

As hundreds of protesters flocked to Sheehan's camp site over the weekend, residents wrote slogans in their car windows such as "Yankees go home."

Some residents also want to make clear they disagree with her politics.

Displayed in front of one Prairie Chapel home was a big sign that read, "We support our commander-in-chief."

Earlier on Tuesday, a group of residents showed up at a hearing of county officials to complain about the traffic caused by activists and reporters who shuttle back and forth to the camp site.

They brought a petition seeking to ban parking and camping along Prairie Chapel Road. No action was taken because the subject was not an official agenda item for the hearing.

Some 800 white wooden crosses have lined the road near Sheehan's camp site. Witnesses said that on Monday night, they saw a truck dragging a pipe and chains drive over some of the crosses.

Larry Northern, 46, of nearby Waco, Texas, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief.

    Anti-war protester Sheehan to move campsite, R, Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:55 PM ET, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-08-17T005502Z_01_SCH657034_RTRIDST_0_USREPORT-BUSH-PROTESTER-DC.XML

    Voir aussi > Media escalation unnerves protest mom, USA TODAY, Posted 8/16/2005 11:21 PM Updated 8/17/2005 12:28 AM, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-08-16-sheehan-unnerved_x.htm


















Garry Trudeau/From "The Long Road Home"

Published June 13, 2005

'Doonesbury' at War


Published: June 19, 2005











'Doonesbury' at War


June 19, 2005
The New York Times


I have always found it odd and a little frustrating that the largest, most concentrated cohort of Garry Trudeau's core constituency -- that is, we readers of this newspaper on newsprint -- must go elsewhere to read ''Doonesbury.'' And so as a New Yorker who only occasionally buys The Daily News and always forgets that the strip also runs every day in Slate and at nytimes.com, I have had a relationship with ''Doonesbury'' not unlike my relationship with the Metropolitan Museum and ''Nightline'' and the Union Square Cafe and my siblings: they've been around forever, so I take them for granted, and get to them more seldom than I'd like, although when I do I am always reminded, in a kind of self-flagellating D'oh! moment, just how splendid they are.

''Doonesbury'' collections ordinarily have titles that are funny (''The Revolt of the English Majors''), funnyish (''Talk to the Hand'') or at least jaunty (''Flashbacks''). The title of this compact new anthology -- ''The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time'' -- is earnest, without any wink or embedded irony whatsoever. And that's because it is all about the disabling war injury suffered by B.D., the quarterback-cum-coach serving as an Army officer in Iraq. In April of last year, a rocket-propelled grenade hit his Humvee near Fallujah, nearly killing him, and ''The Long Road Home'' is just that -- B.D.'s evacuation to Baghdad, recuperation at Army medical centers and convalescence with his family back in the States. The cover illustration shows B.D. in a wheelchair with an artificial leg and (for the first time ever) without a helmet. There is no joke in the first strip, or the second, or the third. And the whole 84-episode series is thick with arcana about Army hospitals and prosthetics and rehabilitation.

But Garry Trudeau has not, thank goodness, fallen victim to Woody Allen Syndrome, neither Stage 1 (trying too desperately to be serious) nor Stage 2 (losing the ability to be funny). There's certainly more bittersweetness and melancholy here than in, say, ''Buck Wild Doonesbury,'' but only as a matter of degree. Trudeau has always leavened his main dish -- social and political satire, bobo comedies of manners -- with flavors from the wistful and elegiac end of the shelf. And there are plenty of chuckle-out-loud punch lines in the book. As when, during B.D.'s first phone call to his wife from the hospital, he beats around the bush about the particulars of his injury: ''Well, the good news is I'm finally down to my ideal weight.'' And when a visiting buddy shields his eyes from B.D.'s stump and says, ''Thanks for your sacrifice, dude.'' And when Boopsie, Mrs. B.D., reconsiders her plan to buy him a fabulous giant-screen TV because a nurse has warned her it could make him too sedentary, and he screams: ''No! That's wrong! The data on that is weak!'' And in maybe the funniest strip in the book, the hippie-slacker Zonker, now nanny to B.D. and Boopsie's daughter, tells the child they need to prepare the family home for her father's return by ''taping the wall sockets.'' She pauses and says, ''I thought that's for babies,'' and Zonker replies: ''Um . . . is it? I saw it on some program.''

So a story of war and amputation and depression and physical therapy manages to be funny and, maybe more surprisingly, entirely devoid of antiwar argument. The merits of the war in Iraq are never questioned or debated. For more than two years, Trudeau has used ''Doonesbury'' to rail against the war on every ground possible, but none of that material is here. Missing from this collection, for instance, are the exquisite Rumsfeld parodies to which one of B.D.'s men defaults like a tic; the Hunter S. Thompsonesque character, Duke, liberating the city of Al Amok; and one Army officer's explanation of the present Catch-22 -- that ''we've got 150,000 troops in Iraq whose main mission is to not get killed.''

TWO weeks into the injured-B.D. series run in newspapers, Bill O'Reilly wrote a column accusing Trudeau of ''using someone's personal tragedy to advance a political agenda.'' This was an odd and disingenuous criticism on a few counts. When are important political agendas -- antiwar or pro-war, anti-abortion or pro-abortion rights, whatever -- not advanced by telling stories about ''someone's personal tragedy''? If one weren't otherwise aware of his hard-core lefty politics, it would be reasonable to infer that the author of ''The Long Road Home'' was conventionally pro-military, maybe even a Republican. When he went on television last year to defend these strips, Trudeau had it exactly right: ''Whether you think we belong in Iraq or not,'' he said to George Stephanopoulos, ''we can't tune it out; we have to remain mindful of the terrible losses that individual soldiers are suffering in our name.''

Getting John McCain to write an introduction to the book was the perfectly shrewd move to inoculate himself against any further carping from O'Reillyland. Trudeau's cheerful, love-the-warrior-but-hate-the-war sympathy for American soldiers is longstanding and seems altogether sincere, not (like, say, Michael Moore's) a cynical posture in the service of his political and commercial interests. Moreover, it has been reciprocated: during the war in Vietnam, ''Doonesbury'' ran in Stars and Stripes; during the early 90's, the Pentagon mounted a touring show of Trudeau's gulf war strips for the United States troops stationed in the region; and the military invited Trudeau to postwar Kuwait to award him medals of commendation.

O'Reilly and Moore notwithstanding, most people don't ideologically vet their entertainments before permitting themselves to enjoy them, just as good artists don't let political messages outshine story and character and sensibility. Plenty of veterans and pro-Vietnam War Republicans (like my father) loved Robert Altman's ''MASH,'' for instance, since its boyish black humor and foxhole existentialism were the point, not its presumed antiwar subtext.

''The Long Road Home'' is very ''MASH''-like, although as a result of the single-minded focus on B.D.'s injury, it seems more like the TV series (soft, sensitive, wise) than Altman's masterpiece (sexy, wild, anarchistic). ''MASH'' came out in 1970, the year Trudeau graduated from Yale and took his college paper's comic strip national. Trudeau has collaborated on TV projects with Altman, and calls him one of his great influences (along with Jules Feiffer, Charles M. Schulz and E. L. Doctorow). Perhaps it's through Altman that Trudeau has channeled the spirit of another artist of that older generation, the cartoonist Bill Mauldin, whose presence seems to hover over the Iraqi war strips and particularly ''The Long Road Home.'' Mauldin enlisted as a regular G.I. before World War II, but by the end of the war his cartoons for Stars and Stripes were appearing in civilian papers in the States. His main characters were a pair of irreverent, non-gung-ho grunts, and General Patton raged about ''Mauldin's scurrilous attempts to undermine military discipline.'' One of those cartoons -- a bedraggled, downcast soldier in a rainstorm with a caption that began, ''Fresh, spirited American troops, flushed with victory'' -- was mentioned by the Pulitzer judges when they awarded Mauldin a prize in 1945. Sergeant Mauldin was 24 (two years younger than Trudeau when he won his), and had a great career as a (liberal) newspaper editorial cartoonist for another half-century.

''The Long Road Home,'' given its absence of any explicit ideological line, reminded me why ''Doonesbury'' has managed to endure so long and to be so fine so much of the time. Trudeau is a great comic writer whose devotion to politics and capacity for moral outrage are apparently undiminished after 37 years, but he is a great comic writer first, with the intellectual honesty that implies. He does not give a pass to the flaws and hypocrisies of his political comrades, and never has. Not only did he portray President Clinton as a grotesque, he was satirizing John Kerry at a time it was really politically incorrect to do so, just when Kerry had become the darling of the liberal media-political complex. In a ''Doonesbury'' from 1971, the 23-year-old Trudeau has a young man approach the strip's two main characters and tell them: ''If you care about this country at all, you better go listen to that John Kerry fellow. . . . He speaks with a rare eloquence and astonishing conviction. If you see no one else this year, you must see John Kerry!'' B.D. asks Mike, ''Who was that?'' and Mike tells him, ''John Kerry.'' In another strip in the series, Kerry thinks to himself, ''You're really clicking tonight, you gorgeous preppy.'' It is hard to imagine ''Mallard Fillmore,'' the comic strip Bruce Tinsley began syndicating 11 years ago as a kind of conservative ''Doonesbury,'' taking equivalent shots at its author's fellow travelers. And whereas Tinsley seems concerned only with politics, narrowly defined, Trudeau is interested in the whole range of passions and quirks and flaws of his two dozen major characters. (Again, it was this way from the start: a good half of his original, proto-''Doonesbury'' strips from The Yale Daily News between 1968 and 1970 were not, rather amazingly, about Black Panthers or the war or politics, but dating and football -- the Yale of George W. Bush, class of '68.)

Another significant difference between ''Doonesbury'' and all the other ''political'' strips, from ''Pogo'' to ''Shoe'' to ''Mallard Fillmore,'' is that Trudeau's characters are not talking animals but human beings. The stakes and daily writerly challenge seem inherently greater. For their first 15 years of existence, the characters in ''Doonesbury'' were like the Simpsons (and nearly every other comic-strip character in history except those in ''Gasoline Alley''): they were ageless. When Trudeau entered middle age himself, he started letting his creations grow older -- and then promptly took an almost two-year hiatus. That could have turned into his shark-jumping moment, when the familiar rules of his fictional universe were overturned in a reckless bid for new juice. But instead of jumping the shark, which is born of boredom or creative bankruptcy, Trudeau actually raised his stakes some more. His characters graduated from college, got married, had children (who became characters themselves), got divorced, died. The strip became more ambitious, not less.

As his characters grew more real, he pushed ''Doonesbury'' more into the actual world as well, sometimes undertaking true journalistic tasks. His strips about a Palm Beach ordinance requiring servants to carry ID cards led to a Florida statute eliminating such crypto-racist laws. Where did I learn that the current president and vice president have been arrested five times between them, and that 29 Reagan administration appointees were convicted of crimes? For better or worse, in ''Doonesbury.''

As most of the characters became more human, it seemed to inspire Trudeau to make others more surreal. I don't love every result of this tendency -- depicting presidents and vice presidents as feathers, waffles, points of light, Stetsons and Roman legionnaire's helmets is a Trudeauvian trope I found much funnier the first time than the 500th. On the other hand, I never tire of Duke, and the whimsy of the propagandistic talking cigarette, Mr. Butts, was brilliant.

''The Long Road Home'' is ''Doonesbury'' at the other, ultrarealistic extreme. The point is that Garry Trudeau, who by all rights should be phoning it in by now, still takes his responsibilities to the strip and his audience seriously, and in service to them still takes large and interesting risks. Which is one reason I am much more enthusiastic about the Democrats' favorite comic strip than I tend to be about the Democrats.


Kurt Andersen is the author of ''Turn of the Century.''

His second novel will be published next year.

    'Doonesbury' at War, NYT, June 19, 2005,


















Afghanistan insurgence growing stronger


Posted 11/16/2005
8:57 AM Updated 11/16/2005
11:14 PM
By Gregg Zoroya


FORT BRAGG, N.C. — U.S. Special Forces soldiers hunting Taliban and foreign fighters in southern Afghanistan say they are encountering a fiercer and more organized adversary than last year, and one that is far from being near collapse as predicted by an American general in April.
The commander and officers of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group — an elite counterinsurgency unit known as the Desert Eagles — provided the assessment in a recent video-teleconference briefing here with USA TODAY from battalion headquarters in Kandahar.

The report calls into question plans to replace most, if not all, U.S. forces in the volatile south next year with NATO troops that will not conduct the same aggressive counterinsurgency operations.

The troubling unrest in a country that held successful elections and appeared to have quelled the insurgency comes amid heightened concern in Washington over the conflict in Iraq, which is overshadowing Afghanistan.

In April, Army Lt. Gen. David Barno, then senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, predicted the insurgency would largely collapse within about a year. But this year has been the bloodiest since the 2001 invasion for the 18,000 U.S. forces. In 2005, 87 U.S. troops have died, nearly half the 186 killed since the war began. In July, 19 Americans died when insurgents downed a U.S. helicopter searching for four Navy SEALs in eastern Afghanistan. Three SEALs were killed.

Afghan officials say much fighting remains to be done. "Our concern is that whoever takes over those areas will have to engage in counterinsurgency," says Ashraf Haidari, an Afghan Embassy spokesman in Washington. Insurgent violence "has increased since last year, and we expect more terrorist attacks."

Wednesday, Afghan Defense Minister Rahim Wardak told the Associated Press that terrorist attacks now resemble the violence in Iraq. This week, three suicide bombings in Kabul, the capital, killed 10 people, including a U.S. soldier and a German peacekeeper.

Lt. Col. Donald Bolduc, commander of the Desert Eagles, said in the October briefing that guerrilla fighting has gained strength since last year. The unit is on its fourth tour. "The guys would tell you that this is a different enemy than they saw before," he said.

American and Afghan forces have prevailed in battle, but Bolduc warned: "If we leave here before we have trained an effective Afghan national security force that's where the insurgency will probably have a pretty successful go at turning the tide."

NATO spokesman James Appathurai says U.S. forces in the south will be "significantly reduced" next year. The alliance's rules of engagement "mean active and robust defense. But it doesn't mean offensive, long-term operations," he says.

Retired U.S. general Barry McCaffrey, who toured Afghanistan in August, is concerned. "NATO forces are in most cases going to be thin gruel compared to the U.S. (forces) they will replace," he says.

    Afghanistan insurgence growing stronger, UT, 16.11.2005,






Afghanistan insurgents

'extremely resolute

and fought to the last man'


Posted 11/16/2005 8:52 PM
By Gregg Zoroya


FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The first warning of something new awaiting a Special Forces battalion known as the Desert Eagles in the mountains of southern Afghanistan came the night Jason Palmerton died.

A predawn reconnaissance patrol of the Green Berets and Afghan national army troops stumbled across three insurgents in the village of Qal'eh-ye Gaz in Helmand province shortly after 1 a.m. on July 23.

At first, insurgents fired their weapons and fled — familiar enemy behavior to the soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. But then a rebel machine gun opened up in the darkness. Fifteen minutes later, a rapidly assembled squad of 15 rebels attacked.

Palmerton, 25, of Auburn, Neb., was killed, and another American was wounded.

The insurgents, driven into a compound, stood and fought even as a B-52 bomber began to attack. The battle didn't end until bombs fell squarely into the compound, killing all inside.

"(It was) an enemy that demonstrated that they could react very well, (were) extremely resolute and fought to the last man," Capt. Paul Toolan, an operations officer for the Desert Eagles, said during a recent video-teleconference briefing in Fort Bragg, N.C., from battalion headquarters in Kandahar.


Reinvigorated adversary

The briefing was a candid assessment of the enemy the battalion finds on its fourth Afghan tour. Toolan and the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Donald Bolduc, said that as teams of Green Berets and Afghan army troops have moved into Taliban sanctuaries this year, they have faced a reinvigorated adversary.

The Desert Eagles are among 18,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The unit, one of two Special Forces battalions there, operates in four provinces in the south.

This year, the unit killed 270 insurgents and captured 271. Four members of the Desert Eagles have been killed, one in a training accident, and 22 wounded; 11 Afghan soldiers have died and 42 have been wounded, Bolduc says.

Last year, the fighting was less frequent and generally lasted only as long as it took to call in air support. The situation is different now.

Two days after the seven-hour fight at Qal'eh-ye Gaz, Special Forces entered the village of Sayhcow in Uruzgan province. The Taliban had cleared it of women and children, raised a flag and dug in for the assault.

The battle, which lasted two days, pitted 250 coalition troops against 70 to 80 insurgents. Rebels, maneuvering to head off U.S. reinforcements at one point, killed Staff Sgt. Michael Schafer, 25, of Spring Hill, Fla., a squad leader, as he tried to clear a compound.

Army Apache helicopters, British Harrier jets, Air Force gunships and A-10 Warthogs arrived to pound insurgents through the night. "They didn't leave," Toolan said of the resistance. Despite the overwhelming force, the insurgents weren't killed or driven out of the town until the next day.

In a third battle lasting from Aug. 7-9, Green Berets and Afghan troops fought their way across Mari Ghar mountain in Zabul province. Insurgents, numbering up to 60 fighters at one point, set up ambushes. "The enemy had become highly organized," Toolan said.


'False sense of victory'

The adversary faced this year by the Desert Eagles and other American units fighting in Afghanistan has defied military predictions that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were fading.

"It's absolutely true that the insurgency has become more effective and the insurgency has moved into more areas," says Peter Tomsen, a former special envoy who helped organize the anti-Soviet Afghan resistance in the 1980s.

According to the Desert Eagles:

• The insurgency never intended to disrupt Afghan parliamentary elections in September. The plan was to conserve military resources and wait for U.S. and Western allies to withdraw. "They had to deceive us that the elections were successful," Toolan said, "that we would be duped into a false sense of victory and leave earlier, so that they would have that ripe environment to move into open guerrilla warfare."

• Candidates linked to the insurgency ran for parliament seats. "We took United Nations candidate lists and we took a list of (insurgent) targets, and we overlaid those," Toolan said. "There were matches."

Early election results show three prominent members of the ousted Taliban regime — former commander Abdul Salaam Rocketi, former provincial governor Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi and former senior security official Hanif Shah Al-Hussein — were elected to parliament.

NATO troops are scheduled to take over security operations in southern Afghanistan next year as they have in the west and north. The highest concentration of violence is in the south and east. NATO's role is as a peacekeeping force. Negotiations are underway between U.S. and NATO concerning how or whether American forces will continue to go after insurgents in the south. Tomsen and other experts such as retired general Barry McCaffrey say the insurgency cannot defeat U.S.-led coalition forces. But Tomsen says time is on the side of the Taliban and foreign fighters.

Seth Jones, a political scientist with Rand Corp. who specializes in Afghanistan, says, "The issue is not that they're going to be successful today or tomorrow or even next year, but that in time, the United States and other major powers ... just do not have the political will to stay."

    Afghanistan insurgents 'extremely resolute and fought to the last man', UT, 16.11.2005, http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-11-16-afghan-insurgents-inside_x.htm






Afghanistan: The war with no end


Published: 15 November 2005
The Independent
By Justin Huggler Asia Correspondent


British troops have come under attack in Kabul and Nato forces were targeted in two co-ordinated suicide car bombings in which at least four people died.

The attacks took place as ministers revealed that units are preparing to extend Britain's role in Afghanistan when it takes command of the international peacekeeping operation next year.

John Reid, the Secretary of State for Defence, told Parliament that Britain faced a "prolonged" involvement in the country. But MPs warned last night that British troops faced being mired in a long-term military commitment to a country in the grip of a growing insurgency.

They insisted yesterday's extension of Britain's role in Afghanistan, four years after troops first arrived, also reflected the size of the task facing coalition forces in Iraq.

Fears for Afghanistan's future emerged in the wake of suggestions, by the British and Iraqi governments, that British troops could begin pulling out of Iraq by the end of next year. For British troops, however, yesterday's violence in Kabul was a taste of what they will face next year when they deploy to the turbulent province of Helmand as part of a move by Nato to take over security in the Taliban heartlands.

At least four people were killed in the attacks, including one German soldier and an Afghan child, but the implications of the attacks were far wider. The insurgency that has been worsening while the world's attention has been focused on Iraq has now reached Kabul.

Mr Reid said British troops had to open fire to defend their camp in Kabul against "unauthorised entry". Few further details emerged, but Mr Reid said British troops were not targeted in the car bombings.

A German soldier died when the Nato vehicle he was travelling in was rammed by a Toyota Corolla stuffed with explosives just after 3pm local time. Two German soldiers and three Afghan civilians were wounded.

An hour later, another Nato vehicle was rammed in a near-identical attack on the same road. Three Afghan civilians were killed, including a young boy, and two Greek soldiers were wounded. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"We have plans for more of the same," Mullah Dadullah, a top-ranking Taliban commander, said by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

The insurgency in Afghanistan has been largely confined to the Pashtun area in the south and east. Until now, British troops have operated in Kabul and the north, where international forces have been largely welcomed by Afghans who suffered persecution under Taliban rule.

But in the south there is widespread support for the insurgency and opposition to any Western presence in Afghanistan. Helmand in particular is notorious even among Afghans for the ferocity of its tribesmen. British troops are moving into the province under a plan for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) to take over security in the area. And it was no coincidence that yesterday's attacks specifically targeted Isaf troops in Kabul.

The message from the Taliban was clear: this is what is waiting for Isaf in the south. But the message was also that the Taliban can now strike in Kabul, which until now has been an oasis of stability largely unaffected by the insurgency.

Kabul is home to 3,000 foreigners, most working for NGOs, who live in an city that often seems utterly disconnected from the rest of the country. Replete with bars and expensive restaurants that sell alcohol to foreigners, but not Afghans, Kabul even boasts two designer boutiques for women's clothes. Yesterday another Afghanistan came crashing up against that world. Both car bombings came on the Jalalabad Road, which has long been the scene of the most serious attacks in Kabul.

There was a suicide bombing on that road in September, and there have been countless improvised bombs hidden along it - partly it is because there are several Western and Afghan military bases, and the UN's headquarters, on it. The road runs through a Pashtun suburb of Kabul where the Pashtun Taliban can operate freely. The fact that so senior a commander has claimed responsibility for the attacks is a sure sign the Taliban are stepping up their actions. Known as Dadullah-I-Leng, or Dadullah the Lame, he is known for his part in massacres of Hazara Shias, which have been described as attempted genocide.

One of the main failures of the Taliban's insurgency has been its inability to attract support among other ethnic communities.

British troops have come under attack in Kabul and Nato forces were targeted in two co-ordinated suicide car bombings in which at least four people died.

The attacks took place as ministers revealed that units are preparing to extend Britain's role in Afghanistan when it takes command of the international peacekeeping operation next year.

John Reid, the Secretary of State for Defence, told Parliament that Britain faced a "prolonged" involvement in the country. But MPs warned last night that British troops faced being mired in a long-term military commitment to a country in the grip of a growing insurgency.

They insisted yesterday's extension of Britain's role in Afghanistan, four years after troops first arrived, also reflected the size of the task facing coalition forces in Iraq.

Fears for Afghanistan's future emerged in the wake of suggestions, by the British and Iraqi governments, that British troops could begin pulling out of Iraq by the end of next year. For British troops, however, yesterday's violence in Kabul was a taste of what they will face next year when they deploy to the turbulent province of Helmand as part of a move by Nato to take over security in the Taliban heartlands.

At least four people were killed in the attacks, including one German soldier and an Afghan child, but the implications of the attacks were far wider. The insurgency that has been worsening while the world's attention has been focused on Iraq has now reached Kabul.

Mr Reid said British troops had to open fire to defend their camp in Kabul against "unauthorised entry". Few further details emerged, but Mr Reid said British troops were not targeted in the car bombings.

A German soldier died when the Nato vehicle he was travelling in was rammed by a Toyota Corolla stuffed with explosives just after 3pm local time. Two German soldiers and three Afghan civilians were wounded.

An hour later, another Nato vehicle was rammed in a near-identical attack on the same road. Three Afghan civilians were killed, including a young boy, and two Greek soldiers were wounded. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"We have plans for more of the same," Mullah Dadullah, a top-ranking Taliban commander, said by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

The insurgency in Afghanistan has been largely confined to the Pashtun area in the south and east. Until now, British troops have operated in Kabul and the north, where international forces have been largely welcomed by Afghans who suffered persecution under Taliban rule.

But in the south there is widespread support for the insurgency and opposition to any Western presence in Afghanistan. Helmand in particular is notorious even among Afghans for the ferocity of its tribesmen. British troops are moving into the province under a plan for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) to take over security in the area. And it was no coincidence that yesterday's attacks specifically targeted Isaf troops in Kabul.

The message from the Taliban was clear: this is what is waiting for Isaf in the south. But the message was also that the Taliban can now strike in Kabul, which until now has been an oasis of stability largely unaffected by the insurgency.

Kabul is home to 3,000 foreigners, most working for NGOs, who live in an city that often seems utterly disconnected from the rest of the country. Replete with bars and expensive restaurants that sell alcohol to foreigners, but not Afghans, Kabul even boasts two designer boutiques for women's clothes. Yesterday another Afghanistan came crashing up against that world. Both car bombings came on the Jalalabad Road, which has long been the scene of the most serious attacks in Kabul.

There was a suicide bombing on that road in September, and there have been countless improvised bombs hidden along it - partly it is because there are several Western and Afghan military bases, and the UN's headquarters, on it. The road runs through a Pashtun suburb of Kabul where the Pashtun Taliban can operate freely. The fact that so senior a commander has claimed responsibility for the attacks is a sure sign the Taliban are stepping up their actions. Known as Dadullah-I-Leng, or Dadullah the Lame, he is known for his part in massacres of Hazara Shias, which have been described as attempted genocide.

One of the main failures of the Taliban's insurgency has been its inability to attract support among other ethnic communities.

    Afghanistan: The war with no end, I, 15.11.2005,






Delays Hurting U.S. Rebuilding

in Afghanistan


November 7, 2005
The New York Times


TURMAI, Afghanistan, Nov. 2 - Islamuddin Ahmadiyar, a 22-year-old student, remembers the excitement in this dusty farming hamlet in central Afghanistan when American contractors broke ground two years ago.

A one-story, 12-room health clinic, nestled between apple and mulberry tree groves, was to replace the mud hut where the village's lone doctor labored through Afghanistan's quarter-century nightmare of Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban rule.

But the clinic remains an unfinished shell, one of 96 American-financed clinics and schools that a New Jersey-based company was supposed to build by September 2004. To date, nine clinics and two schools have been completed and passed inspection, according to the company.

The company, the Louis Berger Group, says progress has been slowed by the requirement to use Afghan construction companies, forcing it to hunt, sometimes vainly, for those that can work fast and to high standards. A design flaw is also forcing it to replace or strengthen the roofs of 89 of the buildings.

"If you play just the numbers game, we're going to look bad, no doubt about it," said Thomas Nicastro, a Louis Berger vice president. "But if you look at this as a development issue, then you have an understanding of what we're trying to do."

Four years after American-led forces ousted the Taliban, the United States has spent $1.3 billion on reconstruction in Afghanistan, intending to win over Afghans with tangible signs of progress. And indeed, there are some. But to Afghans, the Turmai clinic is emblematic of what they see as a wasteful, slow-moving effort that benefits foreigners far more than themselves. "The aid that comes from other countries for the Afghan people, it's not going to the Afghan people," said Mr. Ahmadiyar. "It's being wasted."

The stakes are enormous. Afghans, famed for briefly tolerating and then viciously turning on occupiers from the British in the 19th century to the Soviets in the 1980's, are increasingly disenchanted with the American-led reconstruction program.

Meanwhile, the United States hopes to withdraw 4,000 soldiers from the country's south next spring; a drop in overall foreign aid is expected; and Taliban attacks are rising. So both Afghan officials and foreign diplomats are assessing what has been achieved during the past four years, and many are disturbed by what they see.

Government ministers here say that the foreign consultants and contractors the Americans pay for are producing shoddy work and achieving little - though charging dearly.

"Assistance is coming to Afghanistan, but we don't know how it is spent, where it is spent," said Amin Farhang, the Afghan minister of economy, who oversees foreign assistance programs.

And a July report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, sharply criticized the American reconstruction effort and the department leading it, the United States Agency for International Development. It said inconsistent financing, severe staff shortages and a lack of oversight slowed the efforts.

"We really need to reform the external assistance in this country," said Jean Mazurelle, the World Bank manager in Afghanistan. "We are not in the position to provide the result on the ground that the people of this country are expecting."

Alonzo Fulgham, A.I.D.'s mission director in Kabul, said much progress had been made, citing two national elections and five times as many children in school, including 1.6 million girls. He dismissed criticism, saying that under dangerous conditions the agency had produced strong oversight, planning and achievements. He said American programs had built or refurbished 312 schools and 338 clinics, and constructed 500 miles of asphalt road and resurfaced another 500 miles. He said major progress had been made despite Taliban attacks that have killed 80 people working on agency projects, most of them Afghans.

The head of A.I.D. in Washington, Andrew Natsios, also defended his agency, which leads the American nation-building efforts in Iraq as well. But he noted that the agency's spending had doubled since 2000 to $14 billion, while its staff of 2,300 had grown by only 100.

Until this year, the A.I.D. office in Kabul suffered severe personnel shortages that limited its ability to monitor contractors, according to the G.A.O. report. The agency went from 12 staff members in Kabul in 2002 to 39 in 2003, 101 in 2004 and 160 this year, with 35 in outlying provinces. The report said the mission managed $11.2 million per staff member in 2004, while worldwide, the norm is $1.3 million.

The reconstruction effort also began slowly. The United States spent $214 million on that in fiscal 2002 and 2003, and then began an "accelerating success" initiative to produce more visible achievements before Afghan and American presidential elections in the fall of 2004. Reconstruction spending increased to $1.1 billion in fiscal 2004 and 2005. In Iraq, the United States has spent $9 billion on reconstruction. President Hamid Karzai and his top ministers, who now will have to answer to Parliament as well as the public, are calling for stricter oversight over all and greater government control of reconstruction money.

While Afghans remain grateful, they argue that much more could have been achieved. "This golden period has also been this massive waste period," said Jawed Ludin, Mr. Karzai's chief of staff. "The efficiency has to be increased."


Slow Gains Cause Rancor

The discontent was reflected in the elections last month, according to Western diplomats and analysts. Ramazan Bashardost, a demagogic former minister who bitterly, and often falsely, accused "a mafia" of foreigners and government officials of pocketing vast amounts of reconstruction funds, was elected to Parliament with the third highest vote total in Kabul.

Seated this week outside the modest tent that served as his campaign headquarters, the populist vowed to start a formal investigation when the new Parliament sits next month. "From the tax money of Americans, these people are living like kings," Mr. Bashardost said. "This money is donated so that it should be given to the hungry people of Afghanistan."

At the unfinished health clinic in Turmai, Mr. Ahmadiyar and other college students smiled when asked when they thought the building would open.

"Probably another three years," Mr. Ahmadiyar said, and laughed.

In 2002 and 2003, profit-making companies won five of six major A.I.D. contracts in education, legal reform, agriculture, economic governance and infrastructure.

Louis Berger, an engineering consulting company with 3,000 employees worldwide and extensive construction experience in developing countries, won the largest: a sweeping contract, eventually worth $665 million, to build schools, health clinics, roads and power systems.

In April 2003, after President Bush promised a new highway to link Kabul to the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar by the end of the year, A.I.D. officials directed Louis Berger to focus on the road.

The urgency doubled costs, according to the Government Accountability Office report. Louis Berger hired Turkish and Indian road construction companies. Taliban attacks killed several employees and guards. At a final cost of roughly $1 million per mile, the road was completed on schedule.

The company's school and clinic program, meanwhile, progressed slowly.

Mr. Nicastro of Louis Berger said the company and the aid agency decided to build California-standard earthquake-resistant schools and clinics, at a cost of $174,000 for a school and $133,000 for a clinic. It struggled to find Afghan companies that could build to its specifications.

Officials from one nonprofit organization, which builds A.I.D.-approved schools for roughly $150,000 and clinics for $85,000, said the Louis Berger designs were more complex than necessary.

Louis Berger initially proposed building prefabricated school buildings, a company official said, but aid agency officials rejected the idea because it would not help develop an Afghan construction industry.

"Part of the mission was to build Afghan construction capability," said Larry Walker, a vice president. "By the time we finish, there will be eight Afghan construction firms that are able to do international-quality construction."

The company subcontracted the construction of the Turmai clinic to a local company. That company, villagers said, passed the work on to another Afghan company. Neither subcontractor could be reached for comment.

The second began work but cut corners, using four reinforcing beams instead of six, putting sand under the floor in some places instead of concrete and building doors out of chipboard instead of wood, according to villagers. That company failed to pay local workers for months.

Mohammed Ali, a 40-year-old security guard and father of six who had not been paid for half a year, said American employees of Louis Berger visited the site at least three times. Inspectors contracted by A.I.D. visited weekly, he said. All companies made their profit, he said, but no one seemed to ensure that the clinic would be properly built.

"Everyone is doing their reports," he said. "They don't care about what they should actually be doing here."

Louis Berger officials said they maintained strict oversight over all their projects and have fired 3 of 11 Afghans subcontractors for poor quality work and other problems.

Last month Louis Berger hired Afghans to finish the clinic and said it would pay the additional costs itself. The company said all 96 of its contracted buildings would be done by the end of the year.

As for the faulty roof design, Louis Berger officials blamed an American subcontractor who they declined to name, saying they were pursuing damages. They said Louis Berger would pay the $3 million costs of strengthening or replacing the 89 roofs.

Mr. Fulgham, the A.I.D. director in Kabul, defended Louis Berger's work, saying that finding qualified contractors was difficult and that its road construction was successful. "It's very easy to look back and be a Monday morning quarterback," he said. "But I think they answered the call."

The five nonprofit groups also building schools for A.I.D. have also struggled to find skilled contactors and experienced delays, aid agency officials said, though none as severe as Louis Berger. Development groups with long experience in Afghanistan said Louis Berger's experience showed that large foreign contractors may not be the best choice to build in difficult places like Afghanistan, where intensive supervision is an absolute necessity. One, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, said it had built 16 health clinics in the northern province of Kunduz on time, while the 16 that were to be built in the same province by Louis Berger remain unfinished four months after the deadline.


Consultants and Criticism

Louis Berger is not the only company that has drawn criticism. Bearing Point, formerly KPMG Pete Marwick, won an aid agency contract to "improve economic governance" in the Afghan Finance Ministry and Central Bank and other ministries. The contract eventually grew to be worth $98 million.

The company, based in McLean, Va., put roughly 50 foreign advisers to work in the bank and ministries in 2003 and 2004. Bearing Point and A.I.D. officials declined to give the cost, but Afghanistan's current finance minister said it was $500,000 a year for each consultant, roughly $150,000 for a consultant's salary and the rest to cover living expenses and security, and the company's overhead and profit.

Complaining that the consultants were too numerous and too expensive, and sometimes less effective than expected, Afghan officials tried to terminate the contract in 2004, according to the G.A.O. report. But A.I.D. said the consultants were performing well, and Bearing Point remained.

Anwar ul Haq Ahadi, the finance minister (on leave from Providence College in Rhode Island, where he is a professor), cut the number of his Bearing Point advisers roughly in half this year, to 27.

"There were some advisers I don't think were terribly necessary," said Mr. Ahadi. "In some cases, the positions were not necessary, and in other cases they were not the strongest professionals."

Rob Hager, an American lawyer and former Bearing Point consultant who now works for the Asian Development Bank in Kabul, agreed that some consultants were subpar. He said A.I.D. should be far more stringent and confrontational with contractors in Afghanistan. "They can put in any bozo," said Mr. Hager. "Pay them what they want and make their profit."

Lori Bittner, a managing director for Bearing Point, declined to state the company's fees, but said they were commensurate with those of other consulting companies. She said that Afghan officials approved the number of consultants and that they had helped introduce a new currency, attracted 12 commercial banks and issued licenses to cellphone companies.

"Many of them have been with Bearing Point for 5 to 10 years and have worked in many countries," she said. "They are individuals that know how to build a government, and revamp a government and give advice."

Some members of Congress say an understaffed A.I.D., which has shrunk from a height of 13,000 during the Vietnam War, has become far too reliant on large construction companies and Washington-based consulting firms to carry out its development programs. "Usaid increasingly is becoming a check-writing agency," said Tim Rieser, an aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. "We have to address the agency's staffing shortage in the context of designing and implementing effective programs."

Eager to blunt Afghan frustration, Mr. Karzai has ordered his ministers to tour the provinces and inspect reconstruction projects.

Mr. Farhang, the economy minister, said he had used government pressure to force contractors to redo inferior work on two roads and a dozen schools.

"The important thing is to have supervision, otherwise we will lose money," he said. "In the end, it is the Parliament and the Afghan people who will ask me and the other ministers what we did and where the money was spent."

David Rohde reported from Turmai for this article, and Carlotta Gall from Kabul.

    Delays Hurting U.S. Rebuilding in Afghanistan, NYT, 7.11.2005,






U.S. and British Soldiers

Die in Afghanistan


October 30, 2005
The New York Times


KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 29 (AP) - A United States paratrooper was killed Saturday after his patrol came under fire in a volatile province near the eastern border with Pakistan, and a British soldier was shot to death in northern Afghanistan. Officials said at least 21 other people were killed in fighting during the week.

The fighting in southern and eastern Afghanistan was the deadliest in recent weeks and occurred a month after landmark legislative elections that many people had hoped would sideline the insurgents.

Violence also broke out in northern Afghanistan, which had been spared much of the bloodshed suffered in other areas, on Saturday when gunmen fired at a patrol of British peacekeepers in Mazar-i-Sharif, said Sheir Jan Durani, a police spokesman.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said a British soldier had been killed and five wounded in the shooting in Mazar-i-Sharif. Security forces cordoned off the area and arrested four suspects.

A defense ministry spokesman in London, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, said the troops had been moving between bases in Mazar-i-Sharif when they came under attack.

Police and peacekeepers in Kabul discovered a large weapons cache in an old building, including rocket-propelled grenades, antitank missiles, bombs and ammunition, according to a statement by the NATO force.

The United States patrol came under fire in Khost Province and American forces responded with small-arms fire, artillery and air attacks, prompting the militants to flee. It was not immediately known if any militants died, the military said.

The paratrooper's death brought to 203 the number of United States soldiers killed in and near Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

The deadliest fighting was in southern Oruzgan Province on Thursday, a separate United States military statement said. It started after a United States-Afghan patrol was attacked by militants firing assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. A United States service member and an Afghan soldier were wounded in the assault.

Shortly afterward, militants began a second attack a few miles from the first, killing an Afghan soldier and wounding three others. No United States or Afghan casualties were reported in a third battle.

"A total of 13 enemy fighters were killed in the three engagements," the statement said. "Coalition aircraft and attack helicopters provided close air support for the operations."

In eastern Paktika on Friday, American troops attacked militants as they placed a roadside bomb, catching two and killing one as he tried to flee, a third United States statement said. A fourth escaped.

Two mirrors used for signaling to other insurgents and blasting caps were found on the militant's body.

People suspected of being Taliban rebels fired at a vehicle late Friday in southern Helmand Province, killing two brothers and a son of one of the victims, said Ghulam Muhiddin, a local, government leader.

    U.S. and British Soldiers Die in Afghanistan, NYT, 29.10.2005,






G.I. Death Toll in Afghanistan

Worst Since '01


August 22, 2005
The New York Times


KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 21 - This year is already the deadliest for American soldiers in Afghanistan since the war of 2001, and the violence is likely to intensify before the nation's legislative elections on Sept. 18.

Four soldiers were killed Sunday, meaning that 13 have been killed in August alone. Sixty-five Americans have been killed this year.

The latest four were killed when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in the south. Three others were wounded in that bombing, the American military said. And two United States Embassy employees were wounded when their convoy was hit by an explosion close to Kabul, the capital, the military said.

While some fighters want to disrupt the elections, one Afghan general said others are coming in to help the ousted Taliban or Al Qaeda with the long-term aim of dislodging American troops from Afghanistan.

"The fact that fighters come across the border, that cannot be denied," the Afghan defense minister, Gen. Abdur Rahim Wardak, said in a recent interview. "There are more people crossing on mountain trails" connected to Pakistan, he said. Most of those coming in are described as Afghans, but others are said to be Pakistanis. General Wardak said the Taliban were saying they had acquired new antiaircraft missiles.

A senior security official said Al Qaeda was paying renewed attention to the country this year.

More money is coming in, probably from Arab countries, and a unit of Qaeda fighters has returned to the region from Iraq to teach local fighters an unspecified "new tactic they learned in Iraq," one security official said, explaining that he could not be identified because of the clandestine nature of his work.

While election workers and candidates have been attacked, the violence has spread wider, with the killings of more than six clerics and tribal elders since May. On Sunday, a cleric and another man were killed outside a district mosque, the latest of several attacks on pro-government clergy in which Taliban insurgents are suspected.

More than 40 Afghan National Army soldiers have been killed in combat since March, the defense minister said. And more than 50 policemen were killed in June and July, Interior Ministry figures show.

A total of 181 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan since military operations began in October 2001, more than 100 of them in attacks. One of the worst attacks took place in June, when 19 Americans died in the ambush of a Navy Seal team and the downing of a helicopter.

Foreign fighters from Pakistan and Central Asian states, and even from the Middle East and North Africa, have also been coming in, General Wardak said. "Dozens have been captured in the last two to three months," he said.

The soldiers killed Sunday were taking part in an operation to disrupt enemy forces in the Deychopan district of Zabul Province, an area of continued Taliban activity, the American military said in a statement. The three wounded men were injured in secondary explosions from ammunition in the stricken vehicle as they tried to save the men inside, it said.

The attack on the embassy convoy was perhaps more surprising, because it occurred close to Kabul, and was the first such attack in the area and on United States Embassy personnel in Afghanistan. The vehicle hit was part of a two-car convoy traveling on routine embassy business, said the embassy spokesman, Lou Fintor.

"Two Americans experienced minor injuries in the explosion and have been treated," he said. "The incident is under investigation."

The attack occurred on a dirt road in Paghman, a district west of Kabul. Although the area is known for its armed militias and thieves, no previous roadside bombings had occurred there.

A local television station showed videotape of the damaged American vehicle, with its hood blown off and the windscreen sprayed with dirt, but Afghan officials said that because it was an armored vehicle the passengers suffered only minor injuries.

Another Afghan security official, who asked not to be identified because he was not permitted to speak to reporters, said he suspected that Taliban elements were responsible rather than local militias, adding that the Taliban had supporters in every area.

In other incidents, Maulavi Abdullah Malang, the leader of the religious council in Panjwai district in Kandahar Province, and a supporter of the Afghan government, and a villager were fatally shot outside his mosque before dawn prayers on Sunday, Niaz Muhammad Sarhadi, the local district chief, said in a telephone interview.

Three men on a motorbike were seen fleeing the scene, he said. He blamed Taliban supporters for the attack. "They do not want people to cooperate with the government," he said. "They do not want good people and educated people."

Two Afghan policemen were also killed in Oruzgan, an adjacent province, and two fuel trucks destined for an American military base were ignited in Kunar Province in the east, The Associated Press reported.

Afghan officials said they expected more violence, in the form of bombings in major cities, assassinations of candidates and election officials and other "soft" targets, and armed attacks on polling stations or local government offices in some areas. Pakistanis who were arrested recently and Taliban fighters who surrendered to the government under an amnesty program described similar plans in recent interviews.

The Afghan officials said it was increasingly clear in recent weeks that the elections were not the only target,++ and they accused Pakistan, in particular, of supporting a long-term strategy of destabilization in Afghanistan to keep the country weak. "Maybe they see a stable Afghanistan as a threat to themselves," the security official said.

    G.I. Death Toll in Afghanistan Worst Since '01, NYT, August 22, 2005,





















Nixon Was Torn

by Prospect of Nuclear War,

Papers Show


November 25, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (AP) - Widely considered a military hawk, President Richard M. Nixon fretted privately over the notion of any no-holds-barred nuclear war, newly released documents from his time at the White House reveal.

The recently declassified papers, from the first days of the Nixon presidency in 1969 until the end of 1974, show that Nixon wanted an alternative to the option of full-scale nuclear war - a plan for a gentler war, one that could ultimately vanquish the Soviet Union while avoiding the worst-case situation.

The papers provided a glimpse behind the scenes at efforts to find choices other than "the horror option," as the national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, called the worst-case scripts for all-out nuclear war that were then in place.

Qualms about causing so much death were hardly the only motivation. American officials worried that their nuclear threat lacked credibility because it was so awful that adversaries questioned whether the United States would ever use it.

In a 1969 diary entry, Nixon's chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, recalled the president's taking part in an exercise that day aboard the Boeing 707 outfitted to conduct nuclear warfare from the air.

"It was pretty scary," Mr. Haldeman wrote. The president asked many questions about "kill results," he wrote, adding about his boss: "Obviously worries about the lightly tossed-about millions of deaths."

The picture was pieced together by William Burr, a researcher at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, from papers released by the National Archives as well as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents reveal Mr. Kissinger's chilling insight that government budget-crunchers would prefer complete nuclear warfare because it was already planned for and would be cheaper than recasting American capabilities to permit limited strikes.

"They believe in assured destruction because it guarantees the smallest expenditure," he said in August 1973 at a National Security Council meeting in the White House Situation Room. "To have the only option that of killing 80 million people is the height of immorality."

The papers show Mr. Kissinger struggling with a reluctant military and intelligence apparatus to sell them on the idea of limited nuclear strikes. Many doubted that the Soviet Union would settle for a tidy little nuclear war. They feared that a conflagration would quickly follow, devouring cities and killing millions.

But until Nixon took up the matter, the only options in the nuclear playbook involved the highest stakes possible and unspeakable death, and that apparently unsettled him even as he engaged North Vietnam in a war that was claiming civilian casualties.

By one official estimate, the United States, even if crippled by unprovoked Soviet missiles, could retaliate with missiles killing 40 percent of the Soviet population, or 90 million people. Many more would be killed if the United States struck first. That estimate remains classified.

Countless studies flowed from the effort to expand nuclear options to include "smaller packages." But it was not until 1974, the year Nixon resigned in the Watergate scandal, that he signed a directive setting that process in motion.

Mr. Burr said the United States eventually achieved an expanded range of nuclear options, in part because of the development of more accurate missiles and other weapons.

Historically, Nixon is known as "unsentimental and sort of callous in some ways," Mr. Burr said, but the documents also show a president "worried about the huge number of casualties involved."

But the prime concern may have been the credibility of the American threat. Mr. Burr noted that the narrower options under review singled out centers of the Soviet government and economy, not just military assets, and that any such attack would have created untold casualties, too.

Mr. Kissinger pushed the idea even as the Watergate crisis unfolded. "My nightmare is that with the growth of Soviet power and with our domestic problems, someone might decide to take a run at us," he said at a meeting in August 1973.

    Nixon Was Torn by Prospect of Nuclear War, Papers Show, NYT, 25.11.2005,






Vietnam Archive

Casts a Shadow Across Decades


November 17, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 - White House advisers convene secret sessions about the political dangers of revelations that American troops committed atrocities in the war zone, and about whether the president can delicately intervene in the investigation. In the face of an increasingly unpopular war, they wonder at the impact on support at home. The best way out of the war, they agree, is to prop up a new government that they hope can unite the fractured foreign land.

The National Archives and Records Administration on Wednesday released 50,000 pages of previously classified documents from the Nixon administration that reveal how all of that president's men wrestled with issues that eerily parallel problems facing the Bush administration.

There are many significant differences between the wars in Vietnam and in Iraq - a point that senior administration officials make at any opportunity. But in tone and content, the Nixon-era debate about the impact of that generation's war - and of war-crimes trials - on public support for the military effort and for White House domestic initiatives strikes many familiar chords.

As the Nixon administration was waging a war and trying to impose a peace in South Vietnam, it worried intensely about how the 1968 massacre at My Lai of South Vietnamese civilians by American troops would hurt the war effort, both at home and in Asia.

My Lai "could prove acutely embarrassing to the United States" and could affect the Paris peace talks, Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird warned President Nixon. "Domestically, it will provide grist for the mills of antiwar activists," Mr. Laird said.

Documents show how the Nixon White House fretted over politics and perception, much as the Bush White House has done during the Iraq war, and that it feared that mistreatment of civilians could be ruinous to its image.

"The handling of this case to date has strictly observed the code of military justice," Henry A. Kissinger, then the national security adviser, wrote in a memo to the Nixon aide H. R. Haldeman. Mr. Kissinger said the court-martial of Lt. William L. Calley Jr., who was implicated in the massacre and ultimately convicted, would alleviate press concerns about a cover-up.

Moreover, President Nixon believed that images could be changed, as the presidential aide John R. Brown III wrote to Mr. Kissinger. "Secretary Laird's press is a measure of the good things a onetime hard-liner can earn by playing the dove for the liberal press," Mr. Brown wrote on Jan. 14, 1970.

With so many academic studies, popular histories and memoirs on the bookshelf - and more than seven million pages of Nixon documents released since 1986 by the National Archives in an ongoing declassification process - historians combing over the files on Wednesday said they were looking for golden needles in a haystack more than mining a previously unknown vein of precious metals.

The new release of documents included files on early American assessments of Israel's nuclear program, debates about supporting Pakistan during its war with India in 1971 and the superpower rivalry with Moscow.

Some of the Vietnam documents contain details about how the Nixon administration tried to prop up South Vietnam's president, Nguyen Van Thieu, behind the scenes while portraying him publicly as a courageous leader, as President Johnson had done.

In language that resonates with the positions of the Bush administration with regard to building a new government in Baghdad, the Nixon White House said in May 1969 that it wanted to establish in Vietnam "procedures for political choice that give each significant group a real opportunity to participate in the political life of the nation."

"What the United States wants for South Vietnam is not the important thing," said an internal White House planning-initiative memo. "What North Vietnam wants for South Vietnam is not the important thing. What is important is what the people of South Vietnam want for themselves."

The papers illustrate, too, how as late as 1969 American leaders really did not know very much about the psychology of North Vietnam - or, for that matter, about sentiments in the South.

In March 1969, while the Paris peace talks were under way, American officials worried about how strongly to react to a rocket attack on Saigon. Secretary of State William P. Rogers cabled American diplomats about the decision not to retaliate militarily against the North.

"Plainly, we shall need to have the most careful and continuing readings of the South Vietnamese temperature," Mr. Rogers wrote, reflecting concerns in Washington that the Saigon government would suspect it was being sold out.

Around that time, the State Department suggested that the American negotiator Henry Cabot Lodge soften his language in conveying American displeasure to the Hanoi delegation.

"We prefer this language not because it is less ambiguous than the original version but, on the contrary, because it is more ambiguous - and hence more flexible - as to our response," a State Department cable said.

That July, President Thieu fussed over Washington's editing of a speech he was to make recounting all the concessions that had been made to the Communists and calling again for general elections. A secret State Department wire to Saigon and Paris said an aide to Mr. Thieu, in describing his boss's annoyance, "used a phrase which, translated into English, comes out like 'Secretary Rogers has deflowered my speech.' "

President Nixon praised the July 11 speech as "a comprehensive, statesmanlike and eminently fair proposal for a political settlement in South Vietnam."

The documents show an internal debate in Washington over what effects the death of Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese leader, in September 1969, would have.

Mr. Kissinger told the president that Ho's death would hurt North Vietnam's morale but would probably not soften its resolve. But a State Department cable to its diplomats around that time, when the department was headed by Mr. Kissinger's rival, Mr. Rogers, had a different perspective.

"We are, of course, uncertain ourselves of consequences of Ho's death," it read in part. "We are handicapped in our own analysis by paucity of good intelligence information on North Vietnamese intentions and internal politics."

During the summer and fall of 1969, a great effort was made by the Nixon White House to intervene in a military investigation of a group of Army Special Forces who had been accused of killing a suspected double agent in Nha Trang.

In a memorandum to Bryce Harlow, a Nixon aide, on Sept. 26, 1969, Mr. Kissinger counseled him about how to deal with the concerns of Congress. "The main substantive point you should make," Mr. Kissinger wrote, "is that the president is very concerned about the long-term implications of this case and that he is most anxious to dispose of it in a way which will do the least damage to our national security, the prestige and discipline of our armed services and to preserve our future freedom of action in the clandestine area."

"This is clearly a sign of things to come - and we are really going to be hit," Mr. Haldeman wrote to Mr. Kissinger, urging a quiet resolution. "Anything we can do - even at this late date?"

John Files contributed reporting for this article.

    Vietnam Archive Casts a Shadow Across Decades, NYT, 17.11.2005,






U.S. identifies

remains of 12 MIAs

from Vietnam War


Wed Aug 10, 2005
1:00 AM ET


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The remains of 12 U.S. servicemen who were killed together in battle in the Vietnam War 37 years ago have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The 11 Marines and one Army soldier were lost on May 9 and 10, 1968, in a battle in South Vietnam's Kham Duc province when their units were overrun by North Vietnamese forces, the Pentagon's POW/Missing Office said.

The Pentagon has scheduled a ceremonial group burial on Oct. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery, said Larry Greer, a spokesman for the office.

The remains of the 12 servicemen were recovered over the course of several investigations and excavations that began in 1993, he said.

"Our teams over there interviewed North Vietnamese or communist soldiers that actually participated in the attack and they were helpful in pointing out what they knew about the battle site," Greer said.

He said investigators also were aided by American veterans of the battle who provided hand-drawn maps of where they thought their comrades had fallen.

U.S. forensic experts at a Pentagon laboratory in Hawaii completed identifications of the servicemen in March, Greer said. U.S. military officials scattered across the country completed briefings with the families near the end of July.

Of the 12 servicemen, only five have been individually identified. Hundreds of other remains fragments that were too small to do DNA testing on will be buried in a single casket representing all 12 of the men, Greer said.

More than 58,000 Americans and 2 million Vietnamese were killed in the Vietnam War, which ended 30 years ago.

    U.S. identifies remains of 12 MIAs from Vietnam War, R, 10.8.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-08-10T050045Z_01_N10458224_RTRIDST_0_USREPORT-VIETNAM-USA-REMAINS-DC.XML






C'est une guerre qui n'en finit pas de se terminer. Mercredi, la terre a tremblé dans le district de Hai Lang, dans la province de Quang Tri, au centre du Vietnam: les démineurs ont fait sauter un stock de munitions et de mines «oublié» depuis la fin du conflit il y a 30 ans. Dans cette province, environ 7.000 personnes ont été tuées ou blessés par l'explosion d'armes de guerre depuis la fin officielle de la guerre.

Le régime proaméricain de Saïgon (aujourd'hui Ho-Chi-Minh Ville) avait baissé pavillon le 30 avril 1975 à la mi-journée, après l'entrée dans les jardins du palais présidentiel de chars des soldats communistes et quelques heures après l'évacuation par hélicoptère des derniers Américains. La guerre s'achevait après avoir fait trois millions de morts côté vietnamien et 58.000 côté américain.

    Ceci n'est pas une image d'archive, 28 avril 2005 - 11:17, Libération.fr, http://www.liberation.com/page.php?Article=195004&Template=GALERIE&Objet=36241







Vietnam les oubliés de la dioxine


Le Monde
Jean-Claude Pomonti


En 1977, la naissance d'un premier fils est source d'une grande joie pour Diem Trong Thach et sa jeune épouse. Après s'être battu contre les Américains de 1972 à 1974 à Quang Tri, juste au sud du 17e parallèle, Thach avait été envoyé au Laos pendant deux ans, puis démobilisé. Il regagne son village de Kha Le, dans la province de Bac Ninh, non loin du fleuve Rouge, pour s'y marier. Un deuxième fils naît deux ans plus tard et, en 1980, Thach construit sa maison, une pièce sur cour, où sa famille vit toujours.

Pourtant, leur vie se transforme vite en cauchemar. "Les premiers symptômes, chez l'aîné, sont apparus au bout de trois ans. Les bras et les jambes ne se développaient plus" , confie Thach. Lui-même se sent "de plus en plus faible" . Le médecin ne comprend pas. Deux autres fils naissent, en 1982 et 1984, avant que le praticien conseille à la famille de se rendre à Hanoï pour y procéder à des analyses dans un hôpital assisté par des experts suédois. Thach apprend, en 1987, que lui-même et ses quatre fils sont victimes de la dioxine.

Ce produit chimique extrêmement toxique, considéré comme l'un des plus dangereux polluants chimiques, détruit la végétation, pénètre le sol jusqu'à plus de 2 mètres de profondeur et peut rester actif plus de vingt ans. Il est contenu dans l'agent orange, dont l'armée américaine a fait usage, de 1961 à 1971, pour déboiser les zones ennemies au sud Vietnam et dans le bas Laos. Suivant un programme baptisé "Operation Ranch Hand" , l'épandage, par avion ou hélicoptère, a affecté "3 millions d'hectares de forêts, y compris de mangroves" , estime aujourd'hui le professeur Nguyen Trong Nhân, vice-président de l'Association vietnamienne des victimes de l'agent orange et de la dioxine.

Selon une étude de l'université Columbia (New York) publiée en 2003, la dissolution de 80 grammes de dioxine dans un réseau d'eau potable pourrait éliminer les 8 millions d'habitants d'une ville. Or, en dix années, les Américains ont déversé 40 millions de litres d'agent orange, contenant environ 336 kg de dioxine. Estimant, "pour l'instant" "entre trois et quatre millions le nombre de victimes vietnamiennes", le professeur Nhân s'indigne contre "la plus grande guerre chimique de l'Histoire" .

L'exposition à la dioxine peut déboucher sur la leucémie lymphoïde chronique (LLC), forme de cancer du sang, et des études américaines ont, voilà deux ans, apporté "des preuves suffisantes d'une association entre l'exposition aux produits chimiques pulvérisés au Vietnam et le risque de développer une LLC" . Des enquêtes vietnamiennes ont relevé d'autres conséquences de l'exposition à la dioxine : déficits immunologiques, malformations congénitales, fausses couches, atteintes du système nerveux.

Dans l'incapacité de travailler, Thach devient garde-malade et sa femme vend des légumes au marché ou s'échine dans la rizière. "Les deux aînés ont été à l'école pendant quatre ans et les deux autres pendant neuf ans. Ils comprennent ce qu'on leur dit, mais ils ne sont pas intelligents. Ils ne peuvent pas faire eux-mêmes leur toilette ou s'habiller" , confie Thach, pendant que sa femme redresse l'un des garçons étendus sur l'un des deux bat-flanc de la maison. Deux autres, lèvres inférieures pendantes, éprouvent du mal à marcher. L'aîné se cache. "Il est conscient de ses difformités et ne veut pas être vu" , explique le père. L'Etat vietnamien leur verse des pensions pour handicapés : 170 000 dongs à chacun des enfants, 300 000 au père, soit au total, l'équivalent de 50 euros par mois. "Cela suffit pour se nourrir."

Au Village de l'amitié, institution inaugurée en 1998 à une heure de route d'Hanoï, et bénéficiant de financements étrangers, y compris américains et français, on tente de soigner les vétérans victimes de l'agent orange, leurs enfants et, désormais, leurs petits-enfants.

Nu, petite fille de 9 ans, appartient déjà à la troisième génération de victimes. Accroupie sur un banc, elle hoche continuellement la tête, tout en agitant, près de son oreille droite, un bout de papier d'aluminium. "Née aveugle et muette, elle est victime de troubles mentaux, mais elle entend quelques sons" , explique l'assistante. Le grand-père de la fillette, ancien "bo doi" (soldat de l'armée populaire), avait été infecté par la dioxine. Le père de Nu n'a souffert que de "légers troubles mentaux" . "Après la naissance de Nu, son père a épousé deux autres femmes pour essayer d'avoir des enfants normaux. Mais il n'en a pas eu du tout" , rapporte l'assistante.

Dans sa blouse et son pantalon délavés, avec ses cheveux coupés court, Hai a la taille et l'allure d'une fillette, malgré ses 23 ans. Elle est l'aînée d'une classe de vingt enfants, que gère courageusement, et depuis sept ans, Oanh, enseignante spécialisée : "L'objectif est de développer l'intelligence en leur apprenant à distinguer les couleurs ou des images très simples." Oanh vit sur place en compagnie de son mari et de leur fillette âgée de 3 ans.

"Pendant six ans, j'ai été chargée seule de cette classe et, depuis un an, nous sommes deux, dit-elle. C'est difficile. Sans amour, sans patience, on ne peut pas rester." "Quand on leur demande leur prénom, poursuit-elle, ils ne peuvent pas répondre. Ils ont du mal à écouter. Au début, on ne pouvait pas les faire entrer dans la salle. Le seul changement notable dans leur comportement est qu'ils acceptent aujourd'hui d'être ensemble. Mais il faut s'occuper de tout, les laver, les habiller. A cause de leurs désordres mentaux, ils ne comprennent pas et sont sales comme des bébés." Un garçon âgé de 20 ans s'oublie régulièrement. Celui qui fait le plus de progrès est un tout petit bonhomme de 13 ans, le plus jeune de la classe, qui commence à savoir compter et a retenu une chanson.

La salle voisine est consacrée à la rééducation. Pour Lien, qui "chante très bien" , dit l'éducatrice, c'est l'heure de la séance de rayons. A 19 ans, elle a déjà subi deux opérations aux pieds. Elle parvient désormais à marcher. Deux gamins âgés de 14 et 15 ans pédalent sur des vélos fixes. Ils ont également les pieds déformés. L'aîné des deux ne peut pas parler. L'autre répond à sa place et ébauche même une moitié de sourire.

Dans la salle suivante, le silence règne sur des apprentis brodeurs. "Can, dit l'éducatrice en parlant d'un garçon âgé de 14 ans, peut broder, mais ne peut rien retenir d'autre." Les deux dernières salles sont consacrées, l'une à la couture, et l'autre à la confection de bouquets de fleurs artificielles. Moins marqués, les jeunes gens y sont très calmes. Leurs produits sont vendus dans un magasin du vieux Hanoï commerçant.

En plein centre d'Hanoï, la famille de Duy occupe un petit appartement, deux pièces l'une au-dessus de l'autre, dans la cité Dien Bien Phu, réservée aux bo doi et aux anciens combattants. En fin de matinée, sur le perron, les parents servent un déjeuner sommaire à la clientèle locale avec l'aide d'un oncle et d'une tante de Duy. "Il voit et comprend ce qu'on lui dit" , dit sa mère. Maigre, les doigts recroquevillés et les membres déformés, Duy vit depuis neuf ans dans les bras de sa mère.

Ce sont ses grands-parents paternels qui ont fait la guerre dans des zones infectées par la dioxine. Le grand-père, un colonel qui a quitté l'armée en 1979, s'est retrouvé paralysé en 1981. Il est mort dix ans plus tard. Né en 1970, le père de Duy a été épargné. C'est aussi, apparemment, le cas du frère cadet de Duy, âgé de 5 ans, et qui va à l'école. "On ne l'a pas fait tester, puisqu'il ne présente pas de symptômes" , explique sa mère. Duy, lui, se racle sans cesse la gorge. Sa mère le masse, constamment.

Plein d'énergie et le sourire toujours aux lèvres, Nguyen The Do est un jeune homme de 80 ans qui court plutôt qu'il ne marche. Au petit matin, il enfourche sa mobylette et se faufile dans les encombrements d'Hanoï pour aller chercher son petit-fils, Tung, et le conduire au Conservatoire national. Il retourne le récupérer à la fin de ses leçons. Voilà plusieurs années, il avait confectionné pour Tung une guitare monocorde, instrument de musique traditionnelle. Résultat : Tung a obtenu, en 2004, le premier prix de musique traditionnelle du Conservatoire. Il compose et joue également du piano.

Mais Tung, né en 1979, est aveugle et éprouve de la difficulté à marcher. Il a appris le braille et a mémorisé le classement de ses 3 000 cédéroms rangés dans une vitrine derrière son lit. "J'aime la musique, dit-il, car, quand j'étais petit, ma mère me chantait continuellement des berceuses." Sa sœur, Thuy, de quatre ans son aînée, est née paralysée, aveugle, sourde et muette."Elle ne sent rien, pas même les piqûres du docteur, et ne reconnaît personne" , explique le grand-père. Toute petite, recroquevillée sur elle-même, elle vit sur le bat-flanc familial installé dans la pièce commune afin que la famille puisse se relayer pour s'en occuper.

Le père de Thuy et de Tung a fait la guerre à Quang Tri et sur la piste Ho Chi Minh. "J'ai même participé, en 1975, à la libération de Saïgon" , confie-t-il. Comme ses deux enfants, il a été testé positif à la dioxine au début des années 1980. Il souffre de vertiges, de maux de tête et d'estomac et d'un début de surdité.

Faute de pouvoir s'en prendre au gouvernement américain, alors en état de guerre officiel avec le Vietnam, les victimes vietnamiennes de l'agent orange ont poursuivi, devant la justice américaine, les grands fournisseurs américains d'herbicides, dont Dow Chemical, Thompson, Diamond, Monsanto, Hercules et Uniroyal. Le verdict est tombé le 13 mars : rejet de la plainte. Le professeur Nhân dénonce les "mensonges" du juge.

Des vétérans américains ont également porté plainte et obtenu satisfaction. L'amiral à la retraite Elmo Zumwalt, celui-là même qui avait commandé l'opération"Ranch Hand" , a perdu un fils, jeune officier victime d'un cancer après avoir été exposé. Les firmes américaines ont préféré éviter un procès et, à la veille de sa tenue, opté pour un accord à l'amiable. Quelque 40 000 plaignants américains ont obtenu, en 1984, 180 millions de dollars de dommages. Mais ce n'est qu'en 1996 que le président Bill Clinton a reconnu que les vétérans américains et leurs enfants avaient droit à des dédommagements en raison de leur exposition à l'agent orange au Vietnam.

Les millions de victimes vietnamiennes peuvent se prévaloir de ces précédentes procédures dans l'appel déposé début avril. La bataille s'annonce, toutefois, rude. "Cette guerre peut durer autant que la précédente. Elle est même plus difficile, car c'est un tribunal américain qui prendra la décision" , estime le professeur Nhân.

En ce qui les concerne, le docteur Pham Chieu Duong et sa femme Lan n'ont plus grand espoir. Un seul de leurs quatre enfants a survécu. Les trois autres sont morts au bout de quelques mois, leurs muscles ne pouvaient pas supporter leur tête. Le survivant, âgé de 36 ans, partage encore le lit de ses parents. "Il marmonne toute la journée, on lui donne des calmants, mais il est incapable d'exprimer sa douleur" , confie Lan. Et elle s'interroge : "Mais qui s'occupera de lui quand nous ne serons plus là ?"

    Jean-Claude Pomonti, Le Monde, 27.04.2005,















A. Krauze

What would you have done?

Sixty years on, it's all too easy to condemn the bombing of Hiroshima

The Guardian        p. 21        30.7.2005










Nagasaki, meurtrie,

dénonce les puissances nucléaires


Le Monde
Philippe Pons

TOKYO de notre correspondant

Fallait-il de nouveaux "cobayes" ? C'est la question que posent les habitants de Nagasaki, victimes de la seconde bombe atomique lancée par les Etats-Unis, le 9 août 1945. Le Japon, vaincu avant même le bombardement d'Hiroshima, n'avait pas besoin d'un second massacre de population civile (137 339 morts, dont 70 000 morts sur le coup) pour capituler. Victime inutile d'un point de vue militaire, Nagasaki s'estime encore plus en droit de dénoncer l'usage de l'arme nucléaire.

Et, lors de la commémoration du 60e anniversaire du martyre de la ville, le maire, Iccho Ito, a critiqué les puissances nucléaires pour la faillite de la conférence sur la révision du traité de non-prolifération. Il a aussi posé une question aux Américains : "Nous comprenons votre colère et vos inquiétudes à la suite des horribles attaques du 11 septembre. Mais pensez-vous que votre sécurité soit accrue par la politique de votre gouvernement, qui détient 10 000 ogives nucléaires, poursuit ses essais et développe des mini-bombes atomiques ?"

Plus puissante que la bombe à uranium larguée sur Hiroshima, celle au plutonium dont fut victime Nagasaki est restée la référence en matière d'armement nucléaire. L'essai in vivo fut "concluant", et pendant des années la censure américaine cacha les effets des bombardements.

Les terrifiants reportages sur Nagasaki atomisée du journaliste américain George Weller (1907-2002), écrits en septembre 1945 pour le Chicago Daily News, ne virent jamais le jour : ils furent confisqués par les forces d'occupation. Des extraits, retrouvés par hasard par le fils du journaliste qui, de son vivant, pensait en avoir perdu la copie, furent publiés pour la première fois dans le Mainichi Shimbun en juin...

L'horreur qu'il décrit est reflétée aujourd'hui dans le visage atrocement brûlé, déformé, l'oreille droite réduite à un lambeau de chair, de Katsuji Yoshida, alors un enfant que l'on donnait pour mort et qui a miraculeusement survécu. Agé de 74 ans, il est le stigmate vivant du bombardement. "Nous devons empêcher que d'autres corps soient torturés comme le fut le mien", déclare-t-il à l'Asahi Shimbun.

Des justifications données par le président américain Harry Truman annonçant le bombardement d'Hiroshima et de Nagasaki (mettre fin à la guerre, juste rétribution pour le traitement des prisonniers de guerre par le Japon qui bafouait les règles du droit international, et sauver des vies américaines), la plus importante n'était pas mentionnée : affirmer la suprématie militaire américaine au moment de l'entrée en guerre de l'URSS contre le Japon le 9 août. Quelques heures plus tard ce jour-là, Nagasaki était bombardée. La guerre froide avait commencé : un second coup de semonce était adressé moins aux Japonais qui en furent victimes qu'aux Soviétiques.

    Nagasaki, meurtrie, dénonce les puissances nucléaires, Le Monde, 11.8.2005,






Nagasaki, la ville catholique atomisée


Mis à jour le 9.8.2005
Le Monde
NAGASAKI de notre envoyé spécial


Après avoir été bénit par le chapelain de la base de Tinian dans les Mariannes, l'équipage du bombardier B-29 avec à bord "Fat Man", la seconde bombe atomique, prit la direction de Kyushu. La cible était la ville industrielle de Kokura, au nord de l'île. Vers 10 h 30 du matin, le 9 août, ses habitants entendirent, anxieux, les vrombissements des moteurs de l'appareil sans le voir. Le bombardier survola trois fois la ville, mais rien ne se produisit : les nuages qui obstruaient le ciel sauvèrent Kokura.

Le pilote, le major Charles Sweeney, qui ne pouvait localiser la cible, décida de se diriger vers le second objectif : Nagasaki. Mais là aussi le temps était couvert. L'appareil, qui avait un problème d'alimentation, n'avait plus beaucoup de réserves. "Il vaut mieux lancer la bombe plutôt que de la jeter en mer" , était en train de dire le major à son coéquipier lorsque, soudain, la ville apparut entre les nuages : "Ça y est, je l'ai !" "Fat Man" fut larguée. Quelques secondes plus tard, l'avion fut pris dans de fortes turbulences provoquées par la déflagration. "Bon, il y a des milliers de Japs en moins !" , lança Charles Sweeney, cité par Frank Chinnock dans Nagasaki : The Forgotten Bomb (Allen and Unwin).

"Fat Man" explosa à la verticale du quartier périphérique d'Urakami, où se trouvait la plus grande cathédrale d'Asie du Nord-Est. Des fidèles étaient en prière, célébrant une foi pour laquelle deux siècles et demi auparavant leurs aïeux avaient été persécutés. Dans sa prière, le chapelain de la base de Tinian n'avait pas évoqué le sort de ceux qui allaient mourir : la moitié de la communauté catholique de Nagasaki (14 000 personnes en août 1945) fut tuée sur le coup ­ avec 60 000 autres personnes.

A l'extérieur de la cathédrale, reconstruite, des statues qui ont résisté à la déflagration portent sur le visage des dégoulinades noirâtres de la pluie radioactive. Sur l'herbe gisent des têtes d'anges décapités par une "fin du monde" qui ne fut pas le fruit de la colère de Dieu mais d'une décision d'hommes qui invoquaient le Bien. "Nous remercions Dieu de nous avoir donné cette arme et nous prions pour qu'il nous guide dans son usage" , avait déclaré le président Harry Truman en annonçant, deux jours auparavant, le bombardement d'Hiroshima.

"Plus jamais d'Hiroshima" , dit-on. Et plus rarement "Plus jamais de Nagasaki" . Nagasaki n'a pas acquis la même identité symbolique de ville atomisée qu'Hiroshima. Elle fait partie des "oubliés" de l'holocauste nucléaire. Peut-être parce que la ville la plus catholique du Japon semble entretenir une mémoire apaisée à son holocauste, à l'image de sa plus célèbre victime, le docteur Takashi Nagai, qui, atteint de leucémie, mourut en 1951 après avoir témoigné de son expérience de la douleur et s'être interrogé sur la signification de la catastrophe, en laquelle il voyait un parallèle avec le martyre des chrétiens. Sa petite maison, non loin de la cathédrale, est devenue un discret musée.

"Hiroshima est habité par le ressentiment. Nagasaki prie." Ce qui n'est qu'à moitié vrai. La sérénité résignée du docteur Nagai n'est pas partagée par tous : Nagasaki peut aussi être plus radicale dans sa condamnation de l'acte d'inhumanité dont elle fut victime. Elle dénonça avant Hiroshima l'oubli par l'Etat japonais des victimes coréennes des bombardements. Et, à la fin des années 1980, son maire, Hitoshi Motoshima, un catholique, mit en cause la responsabilité de l'empereur Showa (Hirohito) dans le drame des deux villes atomisées.

Ce qui lui valut d'être grièvement blessé par balle par un membre de l'extrême droite. "Nous devons regarder lucidement ce que fait le pays qui lança la bombe atomique contre nous et les conséquences de notre alliance militaire avec lui" , estime Hirotami Yamada, secrétaire général du Conseil des victimes de la bombe A de Nagasaki.

"Si ce n'est pas pour dire jusqu'à notre dernier souffle l'atrocité de la guerre, pourquoi avoir survécu si longtemps ?" , interroge cette vieille dame à la sortie de la cathédrale de Nagasaki, la tête recouverte d'une mantille ­ les catholiques japonais sont très traditionalistes. Adolescente, elle dut pendant d'interminables mois rester allongée sur le ventre en raison des brûlures qui couvraient son dos. "Citer mon nom ? Pensez-vous que ce soit vraiment utile ? Ecrivez simplement "une atomisée" : nous pouvons tous dire la même chose."

    Nagasaki, la ville catholique atomisée, 08.08.2005, Mis à jour le 09.08.2005, Philippe Pons, Le Monde, Article paru dans l'édition du 09.08.05, http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3216,36-678410,0.html










U.S. Civil War






From the Times Archives


On This Day - June 10, 1865


Jefferson Davis,
the only president of the Confederacy,
was charged with treason.


He was released before trial,
and became an author


We fear there is no longer any doubt that Mr. JEFFERSON DAVIS, who weeks ago was at the head of a great Confederacy comprehending six millions of the human race, is now confined to a dungeon, and manacled with fetters which imply far more disgrace to those that impose them than to he who suffers such a degradation.

A newspaper, in which we utterly refuse to recognise a fair exponent of American feelings, dwells with revolting minuteness on these miserable details, and exults, with all the malignity of a vulgar mind, over the misfortune of a fallen antagonist.

The same accounts furnish us with the indictment against Mr. DAVIS — a document involving, it seems to us, some of the most important questions that can be agitated among mankind, and initiating proceedings likely to exercise a deplorable influence over the history of the United States.

The overt act of treason is laid on the 1st day of June, 1864, on which day it seems that JEFFERSON DAVIS did “unlawfully, falsely, maliciously, and traitorously compass, levy, and carry on war”. The second overt act charged is that he, in conspiracy with a number of false traitors “did command them, to the number of 20,000”.

We observe, then, that the offence with which Mr. DAVIS is charged was committed in the fourth year of a war conducted on a scale and with a vigour and an equality of fortune almost unexampled in the history of mankind. The indictment calls him the Commander in Chief; he was more. He was the elected Sovereign of a great Confederacy, which proved itself able to bring into the field armies the support of which would have drained the resources of a first-rate European power.

    From the Times Archives > On This Day - June 10, 1865, The Times, 10.6.2005,












Guardian > Special Report > Iraq


New York Times > Complete Coverage > Iraq


Cagle > Iraq war > 2000 dead




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