Sunday, May 06, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 6th edition

May 6, 2006: Iraqi soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Division, climb a fence while conducting a joint patrol in the Amariyah district of Baghdad

May 6, 2002:

"We're taking him out"

Two months ago, a group of Republican and Democratic Senators went to the White House to meet with Condoleezza Rice, the President's National Security Adviser. Bush was not scheduled to attend but poked his head in anyway--and soon turned the discussion to Iraq. The President has strong feelings about Saddam Hussein (you might too if the man had tried to assassinate your father, which Saddam attempted to do when former President George Bush visited Kuwait in 1993) and did not try to hide them. He showed little interest in debating what to do about Saddam. Instead, he became notably animated, according to one person in the room, used a vulgar epithet to refer to Saddam and concluded with four words that left no one in doubt about Bush's intentions: "We're taking him out."

Read the rest at Time

May 6, 2003:

U.S. mulls what to do with Iraq's weapons scientists

The United States, anxious to keep deadly knowledge from falling into the wrong hands, is mulling the possibility of finding alternative work for scientists who once labored on Iraq's weapons programs, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Iraq's atomic weapons program alone employed about 1,000 core technicians and scientists, whom Saddam Hussein called his "nuclear mujahedeen."

"There is a substantial risk" that some scientists already have left Iraq to work elsewhere, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Read the rest at USA Today

May 6, 2004:

Coalition targets Mehdi Army in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Coalition forces battled Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia on Thursday in the militant Shiite cleric's strongholds of Karbala, Najaf and Kufa.

U.S. soldiers with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment fought with insurgents after moving into the Shiite holy city of Najaf and taking over the provincial governor's office.

The soldiers took over the office without any resistance, but insurgents in nearby alleys and on rooftops later fired at them.

Troops fought the Mehdi Army elsewhere in the Najaf region, and more than 20 insurgents were killed in the firefights. The main engagement took place in the Kufa area.

U.S., Polish and Iraqi security forces are working to help Iraqi allies re-establish control in southern Iraqi cities, where the Mehdi Army has an armed presence.

In Karbala, a routine coalition patrol killed six insurgents when it was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades.

U.S. troops have massed outside Najaf in recent weeks following the uprising by the Mehdi Army, but they had not entered the town.

Al-Sadr, who is wanted by an Iraqi court in connection with the killing of a rival cleric, is believed to be holed up in Najaf.

Read the rest at CNN

May 6, 2005:

Memo disputes Bush Iraq claims

WASHINGTON — A highly classified British memo, leaked during Britain's just-concluded election campaign, claims President Bush decided by summer 2002 to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy.

The memo, in which British foreign-policy aide Matthew Rycroft summarized a July 23, 2002, meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair with top security advisers, reports on a U.S. visit by Richard Dearlove, then head of Britain's MI-6 intelligence service.

The visit took place while the Bush administration was declaring to Americans that no decision had been made to go to war. While the memo makes observations about U.S. intentions toward Iraq, the document does not specify which Bush administration officials met with Dearlove.

The MI-6 chief's account of his U.S. visit was paraphrased by the memo: "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. ... There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.

Read the rest at the Seattle Times

May 6, 2006:

Rumsfeld's new line contradicted

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tried to rewrite history this week when he denied making prewar claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Rumsfeld's latest attempt at backtracking on his prewar rhetoric came Thursday in Atlanta, at a contentious public forum where he faced a handful of hecklers and a war protester in the audience, who charged that he had lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction -- President Bush's top rationale for war.

The Pentagon chief denied that he lied, saying he had relied on official intelligence reports about Hussein's weapons.

His accuser persisted: "You said you knew where they were."

Rumsfeld shot back, "I did not. I said I knew where suspected sites were."

The record shows that in the weeks preceding the war, Rumsfeld flatly claimed to know the whereabouts of Hussein's weapons arsenal. On March 30, 2003 -- 11 days into the war -- Rumsfeld was asked in an ABC News interview if he was surprised that American forces had not yet found any weapons of mass destruction.

"Not at all," he said, according to an official Pentagon transcript. "The area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

His comments in Atlanta were in line with an attempted revision six months after the war started. On Sept. 10, 2003, Rumsfeld addressed the issue in remarks at the National Press Club. "I said, 'We know they're in that area.' I should have said, 'I believe they're in that area. Our intelligence tells us they're in that area,' and that was our best judgment."

Six months before the invasion, on Sept. 19, 2002, Rumsfeld testified about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Rumsfeld said Hussein "has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons ... large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons," according to the committee's transcript.

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle