Friday, August 04, 2006

NYT: "U.S. General Says Iraq Could Slide Into a Civil War" (Thom Shanker)

The commander of American forces in the Middle East bluntly warned a Senate committee on Thursday that sectarian violence in Iraq, especially in the capital, Baghdad, had grown so severe that the nation could slide toward civil war.
[. . .]
The harshest criticism of Mr. Rumsfeld and the administration's war-fighting policy came from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, who said: "Yes, we hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios, but because of the administration’s strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy.
"Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?"
Mr. Rumsfeld responded with a trademark colloquialism. "My goodness," he said.

[. . .]
After a subsequent closed-door session for members of Congress with the defense secretary and the two generals, Senator Clinton for the first time called on President Bush to accept Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation.

The above is from Thom Shanker's "U.S. General Says Iraq Could Slide Into a Civil War" in this morning's New York Times which we've noted already but we'll provide as a recap. We may touch on it in the snapshot later today because there's something that's not discussed or noted in Shanker's article. It's touched on in Martha's highlight, Dana Priest and Mary Jordan's "Iraq at Risk Of Civil War, Top Generals Tell Senators" (Washington Post):

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the administration may need to seek new authorization from Congress to allow U.S. troops to fight in a civil war. Originally, the forces were authorized to topple Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party.
[. . .]
Recent pledges from Bush that the United States might be able to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq were upended when the Pentagon announced recently that 3,700 troops who had been planning to return home over the next two weeks will be sent to Baghdad for as long as four months.
[. . .]
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused the Pentagon of "playing a game of whack-a-mole," moving U.S. troops from one unstable area to the next. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) sparred with Rumsfeld and Pace over Pentagon reports that two-thirds of Army brigades are not at an adequate level of combat readiness.
[. . .]
The day's most riveting moment came when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) read a list of policy blunders she said had led to the current Iraq crisis, and she accused Rumsfeld of incompetence. "Given your track record," she asked, "why should we believe your assurances now?"
After a long pause, Rumsfeld responded: "My goodness."

[. . .]
Later, in an interview with the Associated Press, Clinton called on Rumsfeld to resign.

From the Times, all one needs from Kirk Semple's article on US troops firing on a convoy of
Moktada al-Sadr's followers is this:

While details remained murky late Thursday, the American military command said in a statement that the occupants of the van had first fired at the watchtower of an American military base near the town of Mahmudiya.

"Details remained murky" is the key point.

A visitor notes an AP story about three charged (with a fourth expected to be charged later) in an assault on an Iraqi, April 10th in Hamdania. Three names are given but that story's now out of date because there are three more charged. From Thomas Watkins' "Six Marines Charged in Iraq Assault" (Associated Press):

Charged Thursday were Lance Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo, Pfc. Derek I. Lewis, Lance Cpl. Henry D. Lever, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas and Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., officials said.
Hutchins, Thomas and Shumate were among eight servicemen previously charged in the April 26 slaying of 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, an Iraqi civilian, officials said.
All six Marines in the assault case were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division while in Iraq. They are currently assigned to the Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.

April 10 in Hamdania [charged with assault" Lance Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo, Pfc. Derek I. Lewis and Lance Cpl. Henry D. Lever. The nature of the assault was not described. A fourth marine, an officer, is expected to be charged next week, said Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, the Marine Corps’ defense coordinator for the western United States.

[It's so out of date that all six were noted last night: "How about the fact that AP is reporting that 'Lance Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo, Pfc. Derek I. Lewis, Lance Cpl. Henry D. Lever, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas and Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr' have been charged in the April 26th kidnapping and death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad in Hamdania."]

Brad had a highlight that I'm ignoring because it's, frankly, not true. Events happen but the reason given in the article is incorrect and, in fact, were addressed in the Senate committee meeting yesterday. It's an on the ground look (in Iraq) and for that and the writing it would be worth noting but the conclusion or reason it offers (via a military official saying that's why it's happening) is incorrect and, again, it was dealt with in the Senate committee meeting yesterday.
(Which the reporter didn't hear or watch most likely -- nor should the reporter have been required to -- but an editior should have caught it.)

Martha notes Andy Mosher's "Insurgents Set Sights On Fallujah" (Washington Post):

Posting proclamations in mosques and schools, the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq vowed Thursday to take back the volatile western city of Fallujah, declaring that it had united local armed factions into a cohesive force to fight the U.S. and Iraqi troops who now control its streets.
The declaration came as U.S. military commanders in Washington testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iraq's relentless sectarian violence, if unstopped, could push the country into civil war. Meanwhile, Baghdad was rocked by more violence Thursday, as a motorcycle bomb killed a dozen people in a central shopping district of the capital. The U.S. military also reported that two Marines were killed in separate incidents in the western province of Anbar, where Fallujah is located.

In the Times, Mark Mazzetti writes of the finger pointing senator (Pat Roberts) who, feeling the heat and pressure over the fact that the intelligence committee still hasn't produced the report promised to be delivered right after the 2004 election, points fingers at the White House. This is Roberts' battle and we're not providing cover for him. He now wants to paint a portrait of non-stop interference. He's the chair of committee, he needs to act like one (and stop whining to ease the criticism over his inactivity). If he wants the report out, it would be out already.

Today, on the ground in Iraq, the AFP is reporting: "A suicide car bomber ploughed into a police post protecting a football match in northern Iraq, killing three officers and seven civilians." And, in another AFP report, that "Insurgent fighters have killed at least 21 Iraqis, most of them police officers, in a wave of bombings across the country, after US generals warned the country could slip into civil war."

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