Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 23rd edition

May 23, 2006: A Marine assigned to 3D Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Weapons Company, provides overhead security watch from the rooftop of a house, scanning the street for any threats to his squad, during a patrol in Ar Ramadi

May 23, 2002:

Bush rejects call for special commission on Sept. 11

President Bush Thursday said he opposes establishing a special commission to probe how the government dealt with warnings of possible terrorist actions before Sept. 11, saying the matter should be considered by the House and Senate Intelligence committees.

"We're still at war," Bush said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. "We've still got threats to the homeland that we've got to deal with, and it's very important for us not to hamper our ability to wage that war."
Bush said the congressional committees "understand the obligations of upholding our secrets and our sources and methods of collecting intelligence. And therefore I think that's the best place for Congress to take a good look at the events leading up to Sept. 11"...

In a speech to the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, Bush called Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a threat to all civilization who must be confronted by all means available and also issued a warning to Russia. Bush assured Schroeder that he has "no war plans on my desk," the Associated Press reported. He also appealed for Germany's help in exerting diplomatic pressure on Iraq to keep Saddam from developing destructive weapons - a threat he said is likely. Bush said the United States is "very grateful" to Germany for "shoulder[ing] a significant burden" in the overall fight against terrorism, but told Schroeder he wishes to use every means available to deal with Saddam.

Read the rest at Congress Daily

May 23, 2003:

U.S. dissolves Iraq's military

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- In a move aimed at eliminating remnants of Iraq's former regime, U.S. authorities Friday dissolved the Iraqi Armed Forces, the ministries of defense and information and other security institutions that once supported Saddam Hussein's rule.

An American senior coalition official said the move effectively disbands the Republican Guard and Revolutionary Command Council and cancels any military ranks or other designations conferred by the previous regime.

It also puts an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 soldiers out of work, along with an estimated 2,000 Information Ministry employees.

Read the rest at CNN

May 23, 2004:

Bush to talk up his plans for Iraq

WASHINGTON — An embattled President Bush, his support imperiled at home and abroad, launches a five-week campaign Monday intended to reassure Americans that he has an effective plan for Iraq and persuade foreign leaders to do more to help it succeed.

At a time the White House would rather be bragging about good news on job growth and the economy, Bush will use speeches, international summits and news interviews to detail his plans for turning over Iraq's rule to an interim government on June 30 and describe the U.S. role in Iraq after that.

White House aides say Bush won't propose a change in course or offer a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces. He will lay out "specific steps we are taking to move forward on the transition toward a free, democratic and and peaceful Iraq," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday.

The steps are:

• Working with the United Nations in naming interim government leaders.

• Eliminating security threats and bolstering Iraqi police forces.

• Rebuilding the country by focusing on reconstructing infrastructure.

• Broadening international support, primarily through a U.N. resolution that will detail the June 30 handover of power to a new Iraqi government and outline how much say Iraqis will have over armed forces in their country.

Read the rest at USA Today

May 23, 2005:

Rebuilding is bogged down and will be billions over budget, admits chief

William Taylor, head of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, described agonisingly slow progress on a mission hampered by sabotage and terrorism, spiralling security costs and a series of false starts. “There is a long way to go,” he said. Mr Taylor previously headed reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Although Washington has pledged $21 billion (£12 billion), only $7.5 billion has been spent because of the difficulties in completing contracts, given the bloody insurgency. A total of 295 civilian contractors working on American projects have been killed in Iraq in the past two years. Providing security guards and other means of protection accounts for as much as 16 per cent of the cost of a contract.

Only 57 out of 160 planned electricity projects are finished and 47 out 147 water treatment contracts have been completed. Despite the $6 billion allocated to those services, a recent United Nations survey found that 85 per cent of Iraqi households lacked reliable electricity and only 54 per cent had access to clean water.

Mr Taylor predicted that the overall cost of rebuilding Iraq after three wars and a decade of sanctions would probably be much higher than the original estimate of $70 billion.

Read the rest at the Times of London

May 23, 2006:

Amnesty Urges U.S. on Iraq Contractors

LONDON -- The United States is riding roughshod over human rights by outsourcing key anti-terror work in Iraq to private contractors, who operate beyond Iraqi law and outside the military chain of command, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

It called for tighter rules on the use of contractors in a statement released with its 2006 annual report detailing human rights violations in 150 countries around the world. The rights watchdog said contracting for military detention, security and intelligence operations had fueled violations.

"We're concerned about the use of private contractors in Iraq because it creates a legal black hole of responsibility and accountability," Amnesty's Secretary-General Irene Khan told AP Television News.

"These contractors are protected from being prosecuted under Iraqi law, but they're not part of the U.S. military command. So when they commit crimes, or when they abuse human rights, they're accountable to no one."

Few aspects of the multibillion-dollar U.S. contracting effort in Iraq have been disclosed.

A report by the U.S. Government Accounting Office last year said monitoring of civilian contractors in Iraq was so poor there was no way to determine how many contractors were working on U.S.-related security and reconstruction projects or how many have been killed.

Read the rest at the Washington Post