Monday, March 26, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- March 26th edition

March 26, 2004: Iraqi men celebrate after sabotaging an oil pipeline.

March 26, 2002:

Saddam Pays 25K for Palestinian Bombers

Saddam Hussein is paying $25,000 to the relatives of Palestinian suicide bombers — a $15,000 raise much welcomed by the bombers' families.

In Tulkarm, one of the poorest towns on the West Bank, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council handed out the checks from Saddam. The payments have been made for at least two years, but the amount has suddenly jumped up by $15,000 — a bonus for the families of martyrs, to reward those taking part in the escalating war against Israel.

Paul McGeough, reporting from the West Bank, was the only foreign correspondent in the hall Monday night when a Palestinian official handed out the checks.

Read the rest at Fox News

March 26, 2003:

Iraq prisoners pose new test for Geneva Conventions

WASHINGTON – American soldiers now being held as prisoners of war in Iraq had nothing to do with the Bush administration's decision many months ago not to grant prisoner-of-war status to Taliban fighters detained by the US in its war on terrorism. But American POWs may face a tougher time in Iraqi captivity because of it.

Military and international law experts say that administration waffling over whether the Geneva Conventions should apply to terror suspects held by the US has somewhat eroded America's moral authority to demand full Iraqi compliance with international law now that US troops are the captives.

"What everyone is learning in Iraq is what many of us said in Afghanistan: The Geneva Conventions are profoundly important to American servicemen and women," says Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "Respecting the conventions preserves our ability to complain when the rights of Americans are abused."

The issue arises as the Iraqis force American war prisoners to pose for television cameras. On Sunday, five soldiers were briefly questioned on camera, and on Monday two American Apache helicopter pilots were offered up for international display.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor

March 26, 2004:

Bush's Iraq WMDs joke backfires

US President George W Bush has sparked a political row by making a joke about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

At a black-tie dinner for journalists, Mr Bush narrated a slide show poking fun at himself and other members of his administration.

One pictured Mr Bush looking under a piece of furniture in the Oval Office, at which the president remarked: "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere."

After another one, showing him scouring the corner of a room, Mr Bush said: "No, no weapons over there," he said.

And as a third picture, this time showing him leaning over, appeared on the screen the president was heard to say: "Maybe under here?"

The audience at Wednesday's 60th annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association obviously thought the quips hilarious - there were laughs all round - but the next morning, in the cold light of day, things looked far less amusing.

Read the rest at BBC News

March 26, 2005:

Secret U.S. Plans For Iraq's Oil

MACON,GA.—The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed.

Two years ago- when President George Bush announced US, British and Allied forces would begin to bomb Baghdad — protestors claimed the US had a secret plan for Iraq's oil once Saddam had been conquered.

In fact there were two conflicting plans, setting off a hidden policy war between neo-conservatives at the Pentagon, on one side, versus a combination of "Big Oil" executives and US State Department "pragmatists."

"Big Oil" appears to have won. The latest plan, obtained by Newsnight from the US State Department was, we learned, drafted with the help of American oil industry consultants.

Insiders told Newsnight that planning began "within weeks" of Bush's first taking office in 2001, long before the September 11th attack on the US.

An Iraqi-born oil industry consultant Falah Aljibury says he took part in the secret meetings in California, Washington and the Middle East. He described a State Department plan for a forced coup d'etat.

Mr Aljibury himself told Newsnight that he interviewed potential successors to Saddam Hussein on behalf of the Bush administration.

Read the rest at the Macon Daily Journal

March 26, 2006:

War without end: Damaged soldiers start their agonizing recoveries

Washington, D.C. — Army Sgt. Michael Buyas stared at the new guy in the physical therapy room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He looked bad, even for this place, where everyone was hacked up and missing legs, arms, hands, feet. Michael was used to the room now, but at first it seemed like a sci-fi human body shop, where broken people came for patching and rebuilding. The newest arrivals wore hospital gowns, their wounds sometimes still raw and gaping. Most, though, looked like men stopping at the gym on the way home from work, except no one had a complete body. They walked the treadmills on their spindly titanium legs or shifted from their wheelchairs onto weightlifting machines, trading insults the way young men do.

There was something so familiar about the new guy. Michael was sure he knew him and almost could hear himself saying his name. But it kept slipping away, as a dream does when you wake up. The guy couldn't be too new because he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. But he was gaunt and blank-eyed. His shoulders seemed barely thicker than a coat hanger. His hands were all bones and scabs. His left arm, encased in a blue plastic brace, rested on a pillow.

From his left ear down across his cheekbone ran a thin scar the dark gray color of a rifle barrel, evidence of shrapnel embedded in the skin. He had a bald patch on the back of his head, the telltale sign of months in bed.

He was sitting on one of the padded tables in the center of the room. He had one amputation above the knee and one below, same as Michael. He was lifting small plastic cones from a stack on his right and placing them atop a stack on his left, an exercise, Michael knew, to teach him how to keep his balance now that his center of gravity had changed.

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle