Monday, May 14, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 14th edition

May 14, 2005: A soldier from the 940th Military Police Company provides security during a joint patrol in the town of Al Hillah.

May 14, 2002:

Kurds cautious about US plans for Saddam

Under the shadow of Saddam Hussein's artillery and tanks, rival Kurdish leaders ruling northern Iraq are coming under increasing pressure from the US to end their often violent feuding and unite in preparation for an eventual US-led assault against the Baghdad regime.

The two main factions, the Kurdish Democratic party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), insist they have no idea when or how the US will launch its military campaign.

They believe Washington has agreed in principle that the goal is to establish a federal and democratic state recognising Kurdish autonomy, rather than replace Mr Saddam with another, this time pro-western, dictator. But they are nervous about what the US may attempt.

"We cannot be expected to be dragged into a half-baked adventure without a clear outcome," Barham Saleh, prime minister of the PUK regional government, said.

Read the rest at Financial Times

May 14, 2003:

New missile used in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. tactics in the war with Iraq — including use of a new kind of missile that kills people without destroying buildings — demonstrate why the military must evolve into a lighter, faster force, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

Rumsfeld also defended American efforts to stabilize postwar Iraq under questioning from skeptical senators.

"The circumstances of people in that country are better than they were before the war," Rumsfeld said. "They're going to get better every day. ... We can't make it like the United States in five minutes."

American troops in Iraq made first use of a new kind of helicopter-launched Hellfire missile, Rumsfeld said. The AGM-114N Metal Augmented Charge Hellfire uses a thermobaric warhead, which creates a blast wave that kills people while leaving a building, bunker or cave intact.

Read the rest at USA Today

May 14, 2004:

A deepening rift at the Pentagon

WASHINGTON – The Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal is exposing a Pentagon increasingly at war with itself, leading to a crisis of leadership even as tens of thousands of US troops risk their lives battling insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For months, discord has been growing in Pentagon corridors over the Iraq war, as senior US military officers criticize what they see as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's risky war plan and the lack of a clear political end game.

Mr. Rumsfeld, in turn, has often chastised what he sees as hidebound, overly conservative military thinking.

Now, the clash between Rumsfeld's push-the-envelope approach and inherent military conservatism is again in full display over allegations that Pentagon policymakers blurred the traditional military chain of command in order to better gather intelligence.

In a dramatic surprise visit to Baghdad on Thursday, Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a direct attempt to demonstrate leadership and bolster morale of the 135,000 troops there.

Amid growing domestic concern that the United States could be losing the war in Iraq, and a string of shocking violence including what he called the "body blow" of prisoner abuse, Rumsfeld upheld a vision of certain victory.

"One day you're gonna look back, and you're gonna be proud of your service, and you're gonna say it was worth it," said Rumsfeld in a voice solemn with emotion.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor

May 14, 2005:

Iraq: how we were duped

When Tony Blair's Labour Party was re-elected in Britain two weeks ago, the saga of the Iraq War begun in March 2003 seemed to be, in one sense, over.

All three leaders of the "Coalition of the Willing" - the United States, Australia and Great Britain - had survived politically after a war that divided citizens and challenged long established principles of international law.

The three leaders survived despite evidence - still emerging - that now seems to prove that the detailed justifications for the war were not only wrong, but in many cases known to be wrong or uncertain before the war began. This is the second battle for Iraq - the battle for the truth.

Thousands of pages of evidence, hundreds of hours of hearings, scores of witnesses and long lists of recommendations have been produced in Australia, the US and Britain as official inquiries have tried to establish who knew what and when.

The world now knows that the path to war in Iraq was paved with untruths, distortions and errors. There were no hidden stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the mobile biological warfare laboratories didn't exist, Iraq was not operating hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's dream of developing a nuclear bomb was just that, a dream.

Read the rest at the Age

May 14, 2006:

Iraq Begins to Rein In Paramilitary Force: 'Out of Control' Guard Unit Established by U.S. Suspected in Death Squad-Style Executions

BAGHDAD, May 13 -- Iraq's Interior Ministry has taken its first steps to rein in the Facilities Protection Service, a unit of 4,000 building guards that U.S. officials say has quietly burgeoned into the government's largest paramilitary force, with 145,000 armed men and no central command, oversight or paymaster.

Last month, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr accused the Facilities Protection Service, known as the FPS, of carrying out some of the killings widely attributed to death squads operating inside his ministry's police forces. A senior U.S. military official, speaking on condition that he not be identified further, said Saturday he believed that members of the FPS, along with private militias, were the chief culprits behind Iraq's death squads.

L. Paul Bremer, then U.S. administrator of Iraq, signed an order establishing the Facilities Protection Service in 2003, aiming to free American troops from guarding Iraqi government property and preventing the kind of looting that erupted with the entry of U.S. forces and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Initially given only three days of training, the guards were assigned to protect Iraq's ministries and other sites under government control. Bremer's September 2003 order put the guards under the command and pay of the ministries they protected, not of the interior or defense ministries, which handle the rest of Iraq's security forces. The order also allowed private security firms to handle the contracting of FPS guards for the ministries.

Although the FPS guards are not police officers, they were allowed to wear variations of the blue uniform of Iraqi police. Many witnesses and survivors of death squad-style attacks have said the assailants were dressed in police uniforms.

FPS guards often are seen roaming Baghdad's streets, holding Kalashnikov assault rifles and crowded into the backs of pickup trucks, some marked with insignia of the FPS or of the various government ministries they serve.

Increasingly, U.S. and Interior Ministry officials describe the FPS units as militias, each answering only to the ministry or private security firm that employs it. Ministries were carved out along largely sectarian lines, with many under the control of Shiite religious parties that lead Iraq's government.

When Jabr last month acknowledged death squads were at work within the Interior Ministry, he pointed his finger as well at the FPS, telling the BBC and Newsweek that the service was "out of control."

Read the rest at the Washington Post