Friday, May 25, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 25th edition

May 25, 2004: U.S. Army soldiers rush to evacuate an injured comrade in the center of Baghdad.

May 25, 2002:

US admits it tested nerve gas on its sailors

The US has admitted that it deliberately sprayed nerve gas on its sailors in the 1960s as part of a series of tests, and the government has begun contacting those involved to discover what damage may have been done to their health.

The tests used several of the poisons which the Americans are now most afraid may be used in a possible biological attack, including sarin, the lethal gas used in the Tokyo subway murders in 1995.

It was showered on to the deck and injected into the ventilation system of the USS George Eastman 31 years earlier, in a test with the gentle codename Flower Drum.

According to documents just released by the Pentagon, Flower Drum, together with other tests with names like Autumn Gold and Shady Grove, were part of Operation Shad (shipboard hazard and defence), which was designed to evaluate the weapons themselves, the forces' protective gear, and decontamination procedures...

Project Shad lasted from 1963 to 1970. Other potential weapons involved included SEB (staphylococcal enterotoxin B), which produces classic symptoms of food poisoning, and VX, the deadly nerve agent which the Americans believed was about to be manufactured in the Sudanese factory they bombed, apparently wrongly, in 1998 and which was detected by weapons inspectors in Iraq at about the same time.

Read the rest at the Guardian

May 25, 2003:

Latest war in Iraq likely won't sink in deeply

Will there be Gulf War II memorials? Not many if history is any indication.

Short wars with relatively few casualties don't produce much emotion, experts note.

The 1991 Gulf War prompted few memorials. In that conflict, 148 Americans were killed.

At Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., there is a simple Gulf War Memorial Stone. In Chicago, a Desert Storm memorial is affixed to a modest rock in the shadows of the playground of Ridge Park at 96th and Longwood.

Those killed in the recent war on Iraq--at least 160 Americans, including seven from Illinois-- will likely have their names added to established war monuments, said James Mayo Jr., a University of Kansas professor and an expert on war memorials. "I don't see anything huge," said Mayo.

Read the rest at the Chicago Times

May 25, 2004:

US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq war

An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday.

Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq.

According to a US intelligence official, the CIA has hard evidence that Mr Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions.

The CIA has asked the FBI to investigate Mr Chalabi's contacts in the Pentagon to discover how the INC acquired sensitive information that ended up in Iranian hands.

The implications are far-reaching. Mr Chalabi and Mr Habib were the channels for much of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons on which Washington built its case for war.

"It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."

Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the state department, said: "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy."

Read the rest at the Guardian

May 25, 2005:

Peace in Iraq 'will take at least five years to impose'

It could take at least five years before Iraqi forces are strong enough to impose law and order on the country, the International Institute of Strategic Studies warned yesterday.

The thinktank's report said that Iraq had become a valuable recruiting ground for al-Qaida, and Iraqi forces were nowhere near close to matching the insurgency.

John Chipman, IISS director, said the Iraqi security forces faced a "huge task" and the continuing ability of the insurgents to inflict mass casualties "must cast doubt on US plans to redeploy American troops and eventually reduce their numbers".

Insurgents have killed 600 Iraqis since the new government was formed. The IISS report said: "Best estimates suggest that it will take up to five years to create anything close to an effective indigenous force able to impose and guarantee order across the country."

Read the rest at the Guardian

May 25, 2006:

Rumsfeld: Iraq timetable wouldn't 'do any good'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused Thursday to set a date to begin troop withdrawals from Iraq and said he trusted the American people to do "the right thing" in upcoming congressional elections.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Larry King, the secretary acknowledged he was surprised at the strength of the insurgency in Iraq and that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found there.

"It was more than had been predicted," he said of the insurgency, blaming it on "imperfect intelligence."

"But all intelligence is imperfect," he added.

As for a timetable for troop withdrawal, Rumsfeld said that timetables are often wrong.

"Once you start doing that, then you are stuck with a number and a date, and it just doesn't do any good," he said.

"[The decision to withdraw] is based on conditions on the ground. There's no question that it's our desire to reduce the forces, and we intend to, and the Iraqis intend for us to," the defense secretary said.

"The question is at what pace can we continue to go up to the 325,000-Iraqi-force target goal and what's the intensity of the insurgency," Rumsfeld said.

Read the rest at CNN