Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Age says doubt continue over Kovco inquiry

The divisions extended to the Kovco family, with Private Kovco's mother, Judy, making a scathing attack on Private Steven Carr, the soldier whose DNA was on the pistol that killed her son.
[. . .]
Judy Kovco, through her lawyer Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Holles, was less charitable, although she stopped short of saying either of the three soldiers killed Private Kovco. "Little or no reliance could be placed upon" their evidence, he said.
As for Private Carr, Colonel Holles said his evidence was greatly troubling, especially his lack of explanation for his DNA being on Private Kovco's pistol.
Private Carr's explanation that it must have come from a secondary source was scientifically impossible, the inquiry heard.
With Judy Kovco sobbing, the president of the board of inquiry, Group Captain Cook, intervened during Colonel Holles' address to say that the inquiry had already determined that Private Kovco did not intentionally kill himself.

The above, noted by Skip, is from Tom Allard's "Doubts continue after Kovco inquiry ends" (Australia's The Age). The hearing ended yesterday (barring a new development -- and the way things have gone, don't write off the thought of a new development). Jake Kovco died April 21st in Bagdhad, becoming Australia's first soldier to die in Iraq. For weeks and month, a military hearing did . . . something. Mainly looked inept. There are not really any more answers then there were when he died. There was little accountability in the hearing -- over the sending to Australia of another man's body in Jake Kovco's place, over the press bulletins Brendan Nelson issues one after another (one guess after another), over what happened and how Jake Kovco died. People were allowed to give testimony that they'd 'heard of' (not witnessed) and when pressed as to where they'd heard of it, I'm thinking of one witness especially, they were allowed to basically stick out their tongue and say "I don't want to tell you." And get away with it. By accident, what emerged was that Steven Carr ("Solider 14") had gotten together and worked out the story with the roommates of Jake Kovco. And that was apparently okay with the inquiry. (The mythical "Cowboy with his gun" nonsense.) It was also okay that someone's DNA was on a the gun (and remember, Jake Kovco's clothes were destroyed, his body was washed, the room was was not secured after Kovco's death, the roommates were not pressed to give statements immediately, go down the list) and Steven Carr denied touching it but offered a fanciful theory of how his DNA hopped from him, to a mythical item, to Jake Kovco and then to Kovco's gun. A fanciful theory that the government's own expert witness said was inplausible.
As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Dan Box reported that a finding will probably come within six weeks. (They did announce yesterday in the hearing that they weren't going to rule it was suicide.) (There was no way they could.)

Turning to the New York Times, Edward Wong notes that things are getting iffy for the puppet of the occupation in "Doubts Increase About Strength of Iraq's Premier:"

Senior Iraqi and American officials are beginning to question whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has the political muscle and decisiveness to hold Iraq together as it hovers on the edge of a full civil war.
Four months into his tenure, Mr. Maliki has failed to take aggressive steps to end the country's sectarian strife because they would alienate fundamentalist Shiite leaders inside his fractious government who have large followings and private armies, senior Iraqi politicians and Western officials say. He is also constrained by the need to woo militant Sunni Arabs connected to the insurgency.
Patience among Iraqis is wearing thin. Many complain that they have seen no improvement in security, the economy or basic services like electricity. Some Sunni Arab neighborhoods seem particularly deprived, fueling distrust of the Shiite-led government.

And if the Times is printing the above, you know there are "official" doubts about al-Maliki in this country that are being raised in whispers -- from Robert Pear's "Iraq Must Act on Security Now, U.S. Advisory Panel Chief Says:"

A leader of a high-level panel studying American policy toward Iraq said Tuesday that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki must take immediate action to improve security, end sectarian killings, reduce corruption and deliver basic services if he wants to retain United States support.
The independent panel, led by former Representative Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, said it would make detailed recommendations to President Bush and Congress after the midterm elections.
The group, formed at the request of Congress and with the approval of the Bush administration, visited Iraq for four days this month. Members said they had met with more than three dozen Iraqi officials, including Mr. Maliki. The group has also met with Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Panel members expect to meet soon with an Iranian official, whom they did not identify, with the Saudi ambassador to the United States and with the foreign minister of Syria.
If Mr. Bush is looking for an opportunity to revise American policy in Iraq, the panel, known as the Iraq Study Group, could be a catalyst.

In "independent" panel about as "independent" as the board heading the military inquiry into Jake Kovco's death.

Kyle notes Katherine Shaver's "2 Servicemen From Md. Killed in Iraq Blasts" (Washington Post):

An Army medic from Howard County and a Navy bomb technician from Harford County, Md., were killed over the weekend in separate explosions in Iraq, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
Army Sgt. David Joseph Davis, 32, of Mount Airy was patrolling the Sadr City area of Baghdad on Sunday when an improvised explosive device went off near the Stryker armored vehicle he was riding in, Defense officials said. Two other soldiers were wounded in the blast, said Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman at Fort Wainwright in Alaska, where Davis was based.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class David S. Roddy, 32, of Aberdeen was killed Saturday on his way to dismantle a bomb, said Phil Beaufort, a spokesman at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk, where Roddy was based.

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