Thursday, August 03, 2006

Other Items

At least 12 people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them children, when two bombs in gym bags exploded Wednesday near the bleachers of a soccer field in a Shiite area of western Baghdad, the authorities said.
Two unidentified men hid the explosives among other bags near a bench packed with children watching a match between neighborhood teams, said the lead investigator in the case, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss it. At halftime, around 8 p.m., when the players sat down to rest, the bombs exploded simultaneously.
The athletes killed were no older than 25, the police said; the children were as young as 11.

The above is from Damien Cave's "2 Bombs at a Soccer Field Kill 12, Mostly Children" in this morning's New York Times. Life on the ground in Iraq. And it doesn't get better. The body count may dip and raise from day to day, but there is no "better." (And dopes and fools with their hands out to create their "task forces" -- see previous entry -- don't address the realities.)
Cave notes that by evening time, fifteen more corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Cave notes that Iraq's president and and interior minister (interior minister for now, again rumors swirl that he'll be replaced) "suggested that army and Interior Ministry troops who had been reportedly seen robbing armored cars and kidnapping dozens were not representative of the force."

That's a good transition to Cave's other piece in the Times, "In Iraq, It’s Hard to Trust Anyone in Uniform:"

The camouflaged Iraqi commandos who kidnapped 20 people from a pair of central Baghdad offices this week used Interior Ministry vehicles and left little trace of their true identities.
Were they legitimate officers? Members of a Shiite or Sunni death squad? Or criminals in counterfeit uniforms bought at the market?
Majid Hamid, 41, a Sunni human rights worker whose brother was kidnapped and killed by men in uniform four months ago, said he doubted that the answer would ever be known. Now, he said, the authorities normally trusted to investigate may be responsible for the crime.
"Whenever I see uniforms now, I figure they must be militias," Mr. Hamid said in a recent interview. "I immediately try to avoid them. If I have my gun, I know I need to be ready to use it."
Such is the attitude of Iraqis in this capital shellshocked and made fearful by violence that seems to be committed almost daily by men dressed as those who are supposed to protect and serve.

That's life on the ground in Iraq. Where the children are targeted, where uniforms raise doubts. Over three years later that's the reality of the so-called liberation. David Stringer's "Report from British ambassador warns Iraq" (Associated Press) provides some more reality (to any paying attention):

A confidential report from Britain's outgoing ambassador to
Iraq warned the country is sliding toward civil war and is likely to divide eventually along ethnic lines, according to a news report Thursday.

William Patey, who left his diplomatic post in Baghdad last week, predicted in the document that the situation in Iraq could remain volatile for the next decade, the British Broadcasting Corp. said.
"The prospect of a low-intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy," the BBC quoted Patey's memo as saying.
"Even the lowered expectation of
President Bush for Iraq -- a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror -- must remain in doubt."
Patey's diplomatic cable claims that Iraq's "position is not hopeless," but warns that the country is likely to remain "messy and difficult" for the next five to 10 years, the BBC said.

And life on the ground for War Hawks in America? Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Davenport Police Confiscate Little Flagsticks to Protect Cheney, They Say" (McCarthyism Watch, The Progressive):

Cathy Berta is a retired elementary schoolteacher. At 66, she’s also a member of Progressive Action for the Common Good of the Quad Cities.
When she heard that Vice President Cheney was coming to Davenport, Iowa, on July 17, she decided to heed the group’s protest call.
"I knew it was going to be extremely hot that day, but I said I’m going to take a stand," she recalls. She joined about 120 people along River Road next to the Mississippi, and they marched part way toward the home where Cheney was doing a fundraiser for the Republican House candidate, Mike Whalen.

Berta was carrying a sign that said: "No, You Can't Have My Rights, I’m Still Using Them."
And she was also holding a little American flag on a stick.
But the police wouldn’t let her, or anyone else, carry the flags.
"I'm going to have to take your stick," one officer told her, she says.

Pair that up with Cindy's highlight, where Marie Cocco is commenting on Guantanamo and its domestic applications in "Bush is After Our Rights" (Boulder Daily Camera via Common Dreams):

That is, effectively, what the administration's draft of new rules for the military detention and trial of terrorism suspects would do. News and human rights organizations that have obtained the document, marked "deliberative draft -- close hold," have criticized the way in which it would obliterate the Supreme Court's ruling. It seeks to have Congress write into law essentially the same procedures for military trials that the high court just said were illegal. That is, terrorism suspects still could be excluded from the courtroom, evidence could be withheld from the defense, and the Geneva Conventions -- which the Supreme Court explicitly said must apply, would be circumvented.
More chilling is that the draft makes clear that the president wishes to impose these conditions upon any American citizen he calls an "enemy combatant."
A copy of the draft made public by The Washington Post shows that, while an initial version anticipated military trials only for "alien" enemy combatants, the word "alien" is subsequently crossed out. Instead, the document refers time and again to "persons" who are detainees. A "person," under this draft, could be an American seized at a shopping mall, or in a suburban backyard.
Here, then, is how the government could treat American citizens if this draft were to become law: A citizen could be designated an "enemy combatant" (a term the administration has never clearly defined) and held in a military prison. There, the citizen would have no right to a speedy trial. Any trials, the draft says, could occur "at any time without limitations."
Once the citizen is tried under rules that mock the constitutional protections he would receive in a federal court, or in a U.S. military court-martial, the outcome would mean little. An acquittal would not necessarily free the detainee. Neither would a sentence imposed, say, for two or three years and served in full. "An acquittal or conviction under this act does not preclude the United States, in accordance with the law of war, to detain enemy combatants until the cessation of hostilities as a means to prevent their return to the fight."

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