Thursday, April 26, 2007

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

April 26, 2004: An Iraqi man celebrates following an explosion which leveled a building in northern Baghdad, setting four U.S. Humvees on fire.

April 26, 2002:

Plotter of Saddam's fall pleads case in US

THE man who could be Saddam Hussein's successor is hunched over a laptop computer with his comrades inside a top-floor room of a rented terraced house on Capitol Hill, Washington. Downstairs, security cameras are trained on the entrance, back door and street outside.

Suddenly, Ahmad Chalabi emerges, a chunky man wearing a tweed jacket and armed with the cheery confidence of someone who is used to getting his way. For years he has dreamed of a free Iraq and now that goal appears to be within reach.

The meeting in the upstairs room of the Iraqi National Congress headquarters was to complete a "lot of wordsmithing" on a letter to the State Department.

But preparations for attacking Saddam's regime are way beyond the paperwork stage. President Bush has decided that a military attack will take place - and Dr Chalabi, 57, is keen to get on with the task.

Read the rest at the Telegraph

April 26, 2003:

U.S. Hopes Top Iraqi Captives Help Prove Bush's Prewar Case

The dozen top Iraqi leaders captured by U.S. forces this week and now undergoing interrogation may become key to proving the Bush administration's prewar case against Saddam Hussein's government, administration officials said yesterday.

"There are people who in large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country. We need information so we can track down terrorist links between Saddam Hussein's regime and various terrorist networks, and we need to track down other people," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters yesterday. "There's a lot of very important projects we've got."

So far, though, administration officials said their captives had yet to give up that kind of critical information, and U.S. officials seemed to be preparing the public for the possibility that they might fail to find bombs, missiles and artillery shells filled with chemical or biological agents, or to find records or other evidence further linking Iraq to the al Qaeda terrorist network. Both allegations were central to the administration's case that the U.S. military should invade Iraq and depose Hussein.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

April 26, 2004:

It's Time To Shelve The Rumsfeld Doctrine

Denial is rampant in Washington. There is denial that intelligence mistakes were made in the months and years before September 11. There is denial that foreign policy mistakes were made in the runup to the war in Iraq. There is denial that the Shiite revolts mark a turning point in the postwar occupation. And most importantly, there is denial that the military strategy going into Iraq, the Rumsfeld Doctrine, is a failure.

The best hope left of establishing a stable Iraqi democracy is to replace that doctrine, which emphasizes small, light, and fast military operations, with its rival, the Powell Doctrine, devised by then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell. The Powell Doctrine calls for overwhelming force shaped by very clear political goals and a specific exit strategy, two things lacking today in Iraq.

The failure of the Rumsfeld Doctrine in Iraq is all too clear -- too few boots on the ground, too little legitimacy for America and its handpicked Governing Council, too many shifting goals, and no clear exit strategy. The result in recent weeks has been a cycle of kidnappings, ambushes, counterstrikes, death, and destruction that increasingly echoes the disaster in Vietnam. The silent majority of Iraqis who in polls just weeks ago said that life was better today than under Saddam Hussein is being radicalized. Moderate Shiite leaders who tolerated the U.S. occupation are turning increasingly impatient and anti-American. The goodwill among the majority of Iraqis that America gained in overthrowing Saddam is being squandered.

Read the rest at Business Week

April 26, 2005:

Insurgent attacks in Iraq increase again

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a postelection respite, the pace of insurgent attacks in Iraq has increased in recent weeks to approach last year's levels, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

"Where they are right now is where they were almost a year ago, and it's nowhere near the peak," said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a Pentagon press conference.

That's about 400 attacks a week of all kinds: bombings, shootings, rocket and mortar attacks, Pentagon officials said. About half cause significant damage or injure or kill someone.

Though they vary daily, those figures are close to the rate of attacks that took place through much of last year, except for spasms of violence in Najaf, Fallujah and elsewhere. In pre-election violence in January, the number spiked to twice the usual rate.

The frequency of attacks is one measure of the strength of the insurgency in Iraq, and the success of the efforts of the U.S.-led coalition to combat it.

But Myers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disputed a suggestion that the figure demonstrates a lack of progress in Iraq.

Read the rest at USA Today

April 26, 2006:

For U.S. troops, attacks arrive as if on schedule

RAMADI, IRAQ - As U.S. and Iraqi troops marched through alleyways and families retreated indoors, Army Capt. Joe Claburn glanced at his watch and predicted how long it would take for insurgents to attack.

"Within 15 minutes, the spotters usually come out and they'll identify your position," Claburn said at the start of a patrol in this troubled Iraqi city, explaining that guerrillas were probably maneuvering unseen in the surrounding villas.

"Within 30 minutes the weapons get brought in," he said. "And usually about 45 minutes after being on the ground, you can pretty much guarantee that you're going to get shot at."

War is often said to be unpredictable. But in Ramadi, Iraq's most dangerous city for American forces, Sunni Arab insurgents are so active that U.S. troops are learning gunbattles often come right on schedule.

Claburn, it turned out, was three minutes off.

"Forty-two minutes on the ground," he said as automatic weapons-fire snapped overhead. "It's a science."

Lt. Col. Ronald Clark, commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, said his units average "five or six" firefights with insurgents per day in eastern Ramadi.

Read the rest at the Houston Chronicle