Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Perspective: On this day in Iraq -- September 25th edition

September 25, 2006: A soldier with the 1st Armored Division, clears an abandoned house during a weapons search in Tal Afar.

September 25, 2002:

Rice: Iraq aiding al-Qaeda

President Bush's spokesman said Thursday that al-Qaeda operatives have found refuge in Baghdad, and accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime of helping Osama bin Laden's followers develop chemical weapons.

"Al-Qaeda and Iraq are too close for comfort," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

His remarks, which echoed those made previously by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, are the strongest yet alleging contacts between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government. Previously, evidence of the two working together was tenuous, or came from unreliable sources.

The accusations are part of the Bush administration's attempt to convince skeptical world leaders that Saddam should be removed from power, by force if necessary. They followed accusations from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle that Bush was playing politics with the debate over war in Iraq.

"There clearly are contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented; there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship here," Rice told PBS' "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" program.

She said much of the information was coming from al-Qaeda operatives captured since the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings. This included several senior leaders whom the U.S. alleges organized terrorist attacks.

"We clearly know that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time," Rice said. "We know too that several of the (al-Qaeda) detainees, in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al-Qaeda in chemical weapons development."

Read the rest at USA Today

September 25, 2003:

Bush the misleader

He's still misleading. Speaking at the United Nations on September 23, George W. Bush defended his invasion of Iraq by noting that Saddam Hussein's regime had "cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction" and that Iraq had "used those weapons." Slippery statements. Bush pushed the country to war by claiming that Saddam had unconventional weapons and could hand them at any moment to Al Qaeda, with whom he was "dealing." Now Bush offers a more generalized description of the threat Saddam posed to the United States. As for his "use" of WMDs, that horrendous act occurred in the 1980s, and it never prevented Reagan and Bush I from cozying up to him. Bush also claimed he invaded Iraq "to defend...the credibility of the United Nations," falsely suggesting that the UN at that time did not plan to deal with Iraq's violation of its resolutions. And Bush praised Iraq's new leaders for "showing the openness and tolerance that democracy requires"--without mentioning that the Iraqi Governing Council (handpicked by the United States) was in the process of banning Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya from council news conferences and government ministries on the grounds that the two satellite networks had engaged in "irresponsible activities."

Stuck in Iraq, Bush and his crew are holding tight to the untruths that greased their way to war and are concocting new ones--even as they contradict one another. Appearing on Meet the Press, Vice President Cheney was asked about any connection between Saddam and the 9/11 attacks. "Of course," he replied, "we've had the story...[that] the Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official." Czech President Vaclav Havel notified Washington a year ago that there was no evidence to confirm that. Days later, Bush undermined his Veep, telling reporters, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." But Bush insisted Cheney was right to state that Saddam had been involved with Al Qaeda, and he pointed to the presence in Iraq (at some point) of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, calling him "an Al Qaeda operative," despite the fact that US intelligence analysts have said Zarqawi operates outside Al Qaeda control.

Read the rest at the Nation

White House: Iraq WMD Hunt Still Ongoing

The White House said it still expects inspectors to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even though the United States' lead inspector has returned to Washington to deliver a "progress report" that does not identify incontrovertible evidence of an active prewar program.

David Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector and now head of the Iraq Survey Group leading the hunt, has presented his interim report to CIA Director George Tenet, U.S. officials told Fox News on Wednesday. Officials said the report does not reach any firm conclusions about the status of former ruler Saddam Hussein's WMD program.

"We continue to believe that he possessed weapons of mass destruction, had a weapons of mass destruction program and Dr. Kay is going to pull together a full picture," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday.

Officials have not said what they expect would be included in a report, but say he still has considerable paperwork to comb through.

"David Kay has miles of documents to go through. He has hundreds of people to interview. ... He's going to put together the picture," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said in an interview Wednesday on "The O'Reilly Factor."

"The president has made it very clear that he wants Dr. Kay to be thorough and pull together a complete picture so we can have the full truth about [Saddam's] weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass destruction programs," McClellan said.

Read the rest at Fox News

September 25, 2004:

Every Day Is Waco Day in Allawi’s ‘Liberated’ Land

Allawi has spoken in America, and his news is good.

Iraqi democracy is on track, and Iraqi police and military forces, homegrown, are routing insurgents. Any contradiction is the product of biased Western journalists who want to see Iraq’s bold new democracy fail, Allawi assured a special joint session of the US Senate and Congress in Washington, D.C. on Thursday

After Allawi called journalists reporting unenthusiastically about Iraq’s daily slaughter liars, almost the entire legislative and executive branches of the US government gave the CIA-trained, neocon-selected Iraqi interim prime minister a standing ovation, and Wolfowitz kissed him. Twice.

Blecchh! But then, I’m American, a culture where men seldom publicly embrace, let alone smootch. And Wolfowitz, rumored to have a Tunisian girlfriend, is increasingly Middle Eastern in manner. Most Americans haven’t had the daily Middle Eastern experience of seeing manly men (as opposed to girlie men) walking arm in arm down the street, or gripping each other’s pinkies, or kissing in friendship. It rattles us.

But not Thursday. Thursday, everyone wants to kiss Allawi, or hold his hand, or grip his pinky and walk arm-in-arm with him down the Iraqi road to democracy. He’s our man, if not THE man, in Iraq. One former US ambassador to Iraq called him “Churchill.”

But Churchill was also a journalist, and might find Allawi’s calling journalists liars to Senate applause a bit rich, since in a July 15, 2004 interview with Al-Hayat, Allawi effectively called the Senate a bunch of liars, disputing their Sept.11 report ruling out “links” between Al-Qaeda and Saddam’s regime. Allawi offered no proof, but claimed there “exists a certain coordination between Al-Qaeda operatives and remnants of (Saddam’s) ousted regime.” Allawi also claimed Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction but evaded detection by sending them abroad prior to and during the 2003 Iraq war, although again he offered no proof.

Guess the US Senate doesn’t read Al-Hayat. At least, not regularly.

Before Allawi leaves town, the Senate might invite him to chat under oath. Maybe it’s time for Allawi to solemnly swear Iraq is no longer a “Republic of Fear.” Because right now, everything indicates it’s become a Republic of Horror, and fear cannot be far away.

Allawi himself and other US-groomed Iraqis are letting us know, quite publicly, what they have in store for the Iraqi people. And it doesn’t sound like democracy. It sounds like Saddamism’a totalitarian police state, ruled by a strong man.

And since Allawi fits that “strong man” bill, what the new Iraqi police state needs is secret police, whose basic job is to spy and report back to the “government” on its own citizens.

On July 15, 2004, Allawi announced creation of a “General Security Directorate” (GSD). Kind of like America’s FBI. Except the GSD will do something extra, in addition to spying on citizens and solving crimes. Allawi says one of its special tasks is to “annihilate terrorist groups.”

In America this sometimes happens, as when the FBI used deadly force against the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. But under Allawi’s plan, every day will be Waco Day. For a long time. Or at least, until things calm down. Likely after thousands more die. Just like under Saddam.

And don’t think Iraq’s new secret police will act wholly on their own.


“Annihilating” enemies is a dangerous enterprise, and the GSD will need to be protected by US-led “coalition” troops. So says Iraq’s new ambassadress to the US, Rend Rahim Francke, also interviewed July 15, 2004. Francke claims US troops occupying Iraq must “stay as liberators” protecting Iraqi leaders while they “take care of the day-to-day running of the country.”

Iraq’s GSD, bolstered by the US military, will not only “annihilate” insurgents but also will carry out Iraq’s amnesty plan, differentiating between “good and bad insurgents.” Francke says Iraq’s secret police are ideally suited “because that kind of weighing and distinguishing between those who can be given amnesty and those who can’t is in fact a matter of rebuilding, reforming the history of the individuals who are going to be amnestied.”

So “bad” insurgents will be “annihilated,” “good” insurgents will be “rebuilt and reformed.” This is actually a step beyond Saddam, whose Mukhabarat usually stopped with “annihilated.” It sounds almost Maoist, like China’s infamous “re-education” camps. And what might these “rebuilt, reformed” insurgents look like? A good guess is, like Americans and Londoners. They will be unashamedly “secular” Muslims, or if non-Muslims, self-declared atheists like Kanan Makiya, famous Iraqi exile author of “Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq.”

Iraqi Neocons. With their own secret police. Protected by the US military.

Oh, brave new Iraq, that has such people in it.

Read the rest at Arab News

September 25, 2005:

Supporters of Iraq war gather in DC

Support for U.S. troops fighting abroad mixed with anger toward anti-war demonstrators at home as hundreds of people, far fewer than organizers had expected, rallied Sunday on the National Mall just a day after a massive protest against the war in Iraq.

"No matter what your ideals are, our sons and daughters are fighting for our freedom," said Marilyn Faatz, who drove from New Jersey to attend the rally. "We are making a mockery out of this. And we need to stand united, but we are not."

About 400 people gathered near a stage on an eastern segment of the mall, a large photo of an American flag serving as a backdrop. Amid banners and signs proclaiming support for U.S. troops, several speakers hailed the effort to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan and denounced those who protest it...

Organizers of Sunday's demonstration acknowledged that their rally would be much smaller than the anti-war protest but had hoped that as many as 20,000 people would turn out.

Read the rest at USA Today

Bush plea for cash to rebuild Iraq raises $600

An extraordinary appeal to Americans from the Bush administration for money to help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq has raised only $600, The Observer has learnt. Yet since the appeal was launched earlier this month, donations to rebuild New Orleans have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.

The public's reluctance to contribute much more than the cost of two iPods to the administration's attempt to offer citizens 'a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq' has been seized on by critics as evidence of growing ambivalence over that country.

It is understood to be the first time that a US government has made an appeal to taxpayers for foreign aid money. Contributors have no way of knowing who will receive their donations or even where they may go, after officials said details had be kept secret for security reasons...

USaid's Heather Layman denied it was disappointed with the meagre sum raised after a fortnight. 'Every little helps,' she said.

In the past 12 months, Americans raised some $250bn for charity, including other foreign causes such as the Asian tsunami victims. Layman said: 'There is no financial goal. People are looking for a way to help rebuild Iraq and this is a way to facilitate that.'

Read the rest at the Observer

September 25, 2006:

US spy agencies say Iraq invasion fueling extremism

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by US intelligence agencies has found that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released on Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terror since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government.

Titled Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States, it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and is spreading across the globe.

An opening section of the report, "Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement," cites the Iraq war as a driving force for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," one US intelligence official said.

More than a dozen US government officials and outside experts were interviewed for the article. All had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts.

Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on US soil.

The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the US is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue and are approved by US Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.

Their conclusions are based on analyses of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.

The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of al-Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of "self-generating" cells inspired by al-Qaeda's leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.

Read the rest at the Taipei Times

U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq Hit 2,701

As of Monday, Sept. 25, 2006, at least 2,701 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,152 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is four more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Monday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 118 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 17; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, five; El Salvador, four; Slovakia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Romania, one death each.

The latest identifications reported by the military:

-- Army Cpl. Cesar A. Granados, 21, Le Grand, Calif.; died in Baghdad Sept. 15 when his vehicle was struck by an explosive; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

-- Army Sgt. Allan R. Bevington, 22, Beaver Falls, Pa.; killed Thursday in Ramadi by an explosive; assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

-- Army 1st Lt. Ashley L. (Henderson) Huff, 23, Belle Mead, N.J.; killed Thursday in Mosul by a suicide car bomb; assigned to the 549th Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga.

-- Army Cpl. Bobby T. Callahan, 22, Jamestown, N.C.; died Thursday in Baghdad in a non-hostile incident; assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

-- Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles J. Jones, 29, Lawrenceburg, Ky.; died Wednesday in a non-hostile incident; assigned to the National Guard's 149th Brigade Combat Team, Louisville, Ky.

-- Army Pvt. Eric M. Kavanagh, 20, Glen Burnie, Md.; died Wednesday in Baghdad when his vehicle struck an explosive; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

-- Marine Lance Cpl. Howard S. March Jr., 20, of Buffalo, N.Y.; killed Sunday in Anbar provience; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

-- Marine Lance Cpl. Rene Martinez, 20, Miami; killed Sunday in Anbar province; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Read the rest at Fox News