Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- March 20th edition

U.S. troops wait in full nuclear biological and chemical protection suits in a bunker at their base in the Kuwait desert after a warning of a second scud missile attack from Iraq March 20, 2003.

March 20, 2002:

CIA chief accuses Iraq of links with al-Qaeda

US intelligence has traced a series of "contacts and linkages" between the al-Qaeda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein, it was claimed on Tuesday, as the Bush administration continued to seek international support to overthrow the Iraqi leader.

George Tenet, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told senators the administration was still investigating whether either Iraq or Iran had sponsored the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Read the rest at the Financial Times

March 20, 2003:

Combat units cross into Iraq as more bombs hit Baghdad

American and British combat units rumbled across the desert into Iraq from the south Thursday and bombed limited targets in Baghdad. But military commanders withheld the massive onslaught that would signal all-out war.

"The days of the Saddam Hussein regime are numbered," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld predicted, although he also said there was "no need for a broader conflict" if Iraqi leaders surrender.

Read the rest at the San Diego Tribune

March 20, 2004:

A year after the war began, violence still unsettles Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The first anniversary of the start of the war that ousted Saddam Hussein was a day like many others in Iraq: a mortar attack in a northern city, an attempt to kill a politician and news of a U.S. Marine cut down by rebel fire.

Overall, Saturday was average by recent Iraqi standards.

The millions of Iraqis who exulted in Saddam's downfall did not publicly celebrate the day, nor were there street protests from those who enjoyed his patronage – partly because public gatherings are vulnerable to suicide attackers, car bombs, shootings and other violence.

Read the rest at the SanDiegoTribune

Ex-adviser: Iraq considered after 9/11

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation almost immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks against New York and Washington, according to a new first-person account by a former senior counterterrorism adviser inside the White House.

Richard Clarke, the president's counterterrorism coordinator at the time of the attacks, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld complained on Sept. 12 — after the administration was convinced with certainty that al-Qaeda was to blame — that, "there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq."

A spokesman for Rumsfeld said he couldn't comment immediately.

Read the rest at USA Today

March 20, 2005:

Bush Hails Iraq as Ally Against Terror

Two years after initiating war against Iraq, President Bush said that the nation has become a new ally in the war on terrorism while inspiring democracy across the Islamic world.

Speaking in his weekly radio address Saturday on the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bush said the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of the first pillars of democracy in Iraq are triggering momentous change elsewhere.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

March 20, 2006:

Are U.S. bases in Iraq built to stay?

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq - The concrete goes on forever, vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that’s now the home of up to 120 U.S. helicopters, a “heli-park” as good as any back in the States.

At another giant base, al-Asad in Iraq’s western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads.

At a third hub down south, Tallil, they’re planning a new mess hall, one that will seat 6,000 hungry airmen and soldiers for chow.

Are the Americans here to stay? Air Force mechanic Josh Remy is sure of it as he looks around Balad.

“I think we’ll be here forever,” the 19-year-old airman from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., told a visitor to his base.

Read the rest at Newsweek

Note: This is a new daily feature focusing on the events of the past 5 years, through the lens of a single day, as we enter the fifth year of this war.