Thursday, August 09, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- August 9th edition

August 9, 2003: 100 days after Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, hundreds march in San Francisco to protest as part of the 'Veterans for Peace' national convention.

August 9, 2002:

Bush: No timetable for a decision on attacking Iraq

As the administration intensified contacts with Iraqi opposition leaders, President Bush said Friday he has no timetable for deciding on a military strike against Iraq and may not decide this year.

"And if I did, I wouldn't tell you or the enemy," Bush told The Associated Press during a brief interview at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Pressed on whether he would decide this year, he said, "Not necessarily."

Read the rest at USA Today

August 9, 2003:

Who exposed whistleblower's wife?

The FBI may launch an inquiry into whether the White House revealed the identity of a covert CIA official to punish her husband for blowing the whistle on President Bush for making misleading claims about the Iraqi nuclear programme, officials in Washington said yesterday.

Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador and the last American official to meet Saddam Hussein, triggered a scandal on July 6 when he published an article saying that the White House knew in advance that the president's public statements about Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa were not credible.

Mr Wilson had been sent to Niger in 2002 by the CIA to investigate claims of attempted uranium purchases there, and reported back that they were "highly doubtful". Despite his report, President Bush said in his State of the Union address in January: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Mr Wilson said: "We spend billions of dollars on intelligence. But we end up putting something in the State of the Union address, something we got from another intelligence agency, something we cannot independently verify, in an area of Africa where the British have no on-the-ground presence."

After Mr Wilson blew the whistle, the White House admitted the mistake but alleged that his report had never reached senior administration officials - a claim Mr Wilson said was false.

A week after Mr Wilson went public, a conservative journalist, Bob Novak, published an article in which he wrote: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate."

The report was controversial because it is against the law to reveal the identities of covert officials. If Ms Plame was investigating WMD deals, her cover would have been blown and her career ruined. Mr Wilson will not confirm or deny whether his wife is a CIA operative, but said yesterday: "Assuming it was true, the real victim in all this is American national security. Novak asserted that not only is my wife in the CIA but active in the WMD section. So senior administration officials have decided to take that particular asset out of the search for WMD in order to punish me."

The administration has denied giving Novak any names, but Mr Wilson said he had been contacted by other reporters who had both been told about his wife by White House officials.

The FBI said it would not comment on an ongoing investigation.

Read the rest at the Guardian

August 9, 2004:

Oil sets another record

Crude oil prices jumped to just 3 cents shy of $45 a barrel Monday on news that production in Iraq's main oil production center was stopped because of threats from Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia, re-igniting concerns about tight international supplies.

U.S. light crude traded at $44.83, up 88 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange around 1 p.m. ET, after setting a new record at $44.97 earlier in the session. This beat Friday's record of $44.77 that had been the highest price since the NYMEX launched oil futures in 1983.

London Brent crude also reached a record high $41.65 a barrel before easing to $41.48, up 85 cents.

"Pumping from the southern oilfields to storage tanks at Basra was stopped today after threats made by Al-Sadr," an Iraqi official told Reuters. "It will remain stopped until the threat is over," he said.

The official said militiamen threatened to sabotage production for the nation's state-run Southern Oil Company, based in Basra, and that the Gulf Basra terminal had enough supply to keep exports running for around two days.

Iraq has recently been exporting nearly 1.9 million barrels a day, but exports from Iraq's northern oil fields have operated sporadically since the U.S. occupation began last year. They have been closed because of attacks on the main northern export pipeline from the Kirkuk fields.

Sabotage attacks shortly before the U.S. handover of power to the interim Iraqi government have also cut exports sharply.

In Baghdad, the oil ministry came under shelling Monday after a previous barrage of mortar rounds injured one guard Saturday and damaged the building.

Read the rest at CNN

August 9, 2005:

Iraq troop reductions likely next year

Plans to begin reducing America's troop commitment in Iraq next year could still leave a sizable American military presence in the most dangerous parts of the country, where U.S. forces have suffered most of their casualties.

A joint U.S.-Iraqi committee set up to establish a formula for identifying areas to revert to Iraqi control will submit its final report to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari by the end of September, the chairman told The Associated Press.

That would mark the first step in a complex process the top commander of coalition forces in Iraq said could lead to a "fairly substantial" reduction in the 140,000-strong U.S. force by the spring and summer of next year.

Gen. George W. Casey gave no figures when he spoke last month. However, Pentagon officials have mentioned a figure of 20,000 to 30,000 troops. That would still leave about 100,000 Americans in Iraq well into next year.

Read the rest at the Times Picayune

August 9, 2006:

So What's Our Role in Iraq's Civil War?

Of all the signs that the American people are fed up with the war in Iraq, the one that the administration should fear most was put forth last week by a longtime supporter of both the president and the war, Virginia Republican John Warner.

While chairing a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Warner suggested that the president might need a new congressional resolution authorizing our presence in Iraq, since the conflict there has become (or, best case, may yet become) a civil war.

Now, that would be one challenging resolution to write. Once you've come up with "Whereas the conflict in Iraq is now a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis," what is it, exactly, that we are therefore supposed to resolve? In an Iraqi civil war -- which is precisely what we now confront -- what is the mission of U.S. forces?

There are, after all, civil wars and civil wars. In the carnage that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was chiefly the genocidal aggression of Slobodan Milosevic's Serbian nationalists that needed to be checked, and in time U.S. forces and their allies did just that. But the slaughter in Iraq is the work of many hands on both sides of their religious divide. And the role of American soldiers in an intra-Islamic conflict is impossible to plausibly articulate. (Imagine, for instance, that a small Islamic army had been plunked down in Europe during the Protestant-Catholic strife of the 16th and 17th centuries. Its mission would have been about as clear as ours in Iraq today.)

For the Bush administration, then, any admission that the Iraqi civil war is in fact a civil war destroys whatever remains of its justification for our presence there. For while it is true that the withdrawal of our forces will probably unleash even greater sectarian mayhem, it is also true that our presence cannot stop it and that our presence there has also greatly diminished our diplomatic and military capacity to accomplish anything else anyplace else.

If Iraqis have embarked on a bloody partition of their nation -- and to all appearances they have -- then the one remaining task for any non-indigenous force within Iraq is to help ensure that that division takes place with as little slaughter as possible. In the best of all possible worlds, the Iraqi parties would agree on their new lines of demarcation.

Agreement or no, however, the job of keeping the mayhem to a minimum would best be performed by forces with no perceived stake or history in the conflict -- that is, by a United Nations deployment of troops from nations that are neither Muslim nor Christian.

For George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, however, such a messy and sad resolution would make unmistakably clear the full dimensions of their folly. It's not true that they don't have a plan for Iraq. Their plan is to avoid having such a resolution occur on their watch, to delay the disintegration of Iraq, for which they more than anyone else are responsible, until Bush is out of office and they can lay the blame for this catastrophe on his successor...

Once it's acknowledged that the war in Iraq is a sectarian civil war, however, staying the course has no logic for anyone. Which is why Bush remains determined to dispute any such characterization. "You know, I hear people say, well, civil war this, civil war that," he told reporters at his Crawford, Tex., ranch on Monday. "The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box. And a unity government is working to respond to the will of the people. And, frankly, it's quite a remarkable achievement on the political front, and the security front is where there's been troubles."

As long as there's an Iraqi government, apparently, there can be no civil war in Iraq. Another problem solved in the neat little world of George Bush.

Read the rest at the Washington Post