Thursday, September 28, 2006

NYT: "Military Officials Add to U.S. Criticism of Iraq's Government" (Richard A. Oppel Jr.)

Senior American military officials are warning that time is growing short for Iraq to root out militias inside and outside the government and purge ministries of corrupt officials who are diverting large sums of money to their own political parties.
[. . .]
Another sign of how acute Iraq's security woes have become emerged Wednesday: the past week saw the highest number of suicide bomb attacks of any week since the American-led invasion in 2003, according to the chief United States military spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV.
"This has been a tough week," General Caldwell said. "This week's suicide attacks were at their highest level in any given week." But such attacks, he said, are still not the No. 1 killer of Baghdad civilians. "Murders and executions are," he said.
In recent weeks American and Iraqi officials have privately voiced concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki might not have the will or the political dexterity to bring the country together and avoid a full-scale civil war. Mr. Maliki, they say, is hamstrung and beholden to rival political parties with their own large militias.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Military Officials Add to U.S. Criticism of Iraq’s Government" in this morning's New York Times. First note, that the Giddiest Gabor of the Green Zone, Willie Caldwell IV, is credited for some statements but not all in Oppel's article. We'll come back to that. Lloyd notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "American Commanders Question Political Will Of Iraqi Prime Minister" (Washington Post) which also quotes "a senior U.S. military official who spoke on condition of anonymity at a briefing with reporters". (Oppel quotes him as well in the article, we haven't included in the excerpt.) From the Post, here's the various statements the unnamed makes (he's not the only unnamed military official quoted), strung together (by me) as one statement:

"It's going to take time for a government to cleanse itself over time. I've got to give it time to do that and hope that I have a prime minister that's going to take that on. We are now at a time when we have a little bit of influence there. There is going to come a time when I would argue we are going to have to force this issue. . . . We have to, wherever we can, use what pressure, what influence we have, to get them as quickly as possible to clear these places out."

I believe the key word is "time." "I have a prime minister . . ." "I've got to give it time . . ." There's ownership of the puppet in those statements. But who thought the puppet of the occupation had any real power?

What of the press? A military official holds a press conference (and there's at least one other participating) with reporters -- plural -- and anonymity is granted? There's background but that generally doesn't include a public press conference. This isn't a whistle blower nor were any statements made not approved by the military, so the question needs to be asked why the press is withholding names of people making public statements? Call it "public whispers."

Back to the Giddiest Gabor. He continues to cite figures -- no surprise, Nancy A. Youssef revealed in June that the US military was keeping a bodycount on Iraqis and had since at least July 2005 -- and apparently won't be called on providing them. Since August's figures only included some deaths, or that was they fed the American public, it's interesting that Caldwell claims now to be able to compare and contrast deaths from "murders and executions" and from bombs. In August, the claim was the count didn't include all three. What does the count include? No one knows because the military won't provide their actual reports, Caldwell just summarizes them on a whim.

Marcus notes an article on Agustin Aguayo by Robert Jablon ("Medic who refused to return to Iraq surrenders," Associated Press) that's "all over the place and I mean all over even at Pat Robertson's website." He means CBN, we'll note it from Army Times:

Aguayo said he expected to face a court martial and some jail time.
"It's something I can live with," said Aguayo at the news conference, where he was surrounded by supporters from Mexican-American and anti-war groups.
"Something I can't live with is being a participant of war anymore."
Aguayo has unsuccessfully fought the Pentagon for more than two years to be declared a conscientious objector and win a discharge.
He served a year as a combat medic in Tikrit, Iraq, in 2004 after the military turned down his request.
He then jumped out of a window of his base housing in Germany on Sept. 2 rather than be forced to ship out for a second tour with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment.
"I have come to believe that it is wrong to destroy life, that it is wrong to use war, that it is immoral, and I can no longer go down this path," Aguayo said.
"I am truly proud of him," his wife, Helga, 33, said. Aguayo’s wife and twin 11-year-old daughters are living with relatives in Palmdale.
Aguayo, a U.S. citizen who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, said he was not anti-war when he enlisted in 2002. But his military experiences changed his mind. He applied for conscientious objector status in February 2004 before he was sent overseas.
Before departing, his unit received live-fire training, shooting at silhouettes.
"He said that was the moment he had an epiphany and said, 'My God, what am I doing? Am I capable of killing someone?"' his wife said.
In Iraq, Aguayo went on guard duty with an unloaded gun, she said.
Aguayo said he will not serve as a medic anymore because treating wounded soldiers would allow them to go back into the field and kill, his wife said.
Last year, Aguayo sued in federal court in Washington to overturn the military's rejection of his conscientious objector bid. He lost the court case but has appealed the decision. Arguments are scheduled for November.

[. . .]
The Army considers soldiers absent without leave for up to 30 days. Had Aguayo refused to surrender after that time, he could have faced the more serious charge of desertion, which can carry a five-year prison sentence or, in times of war, a death sentence.

Marcus provides the CBN link ("so you'll believe me") and while I do, others may not. Doubters can click here and hopefully that's the only time we'll link to CBN. (I went back and forth over the link and any member having a problem with it can contact Beth. She's the ombudsperson for a reason. But Marcus' point was noting how widespread the coverage was and that it included CBN. I'm way behind on the public account and asking those helping with the e-mails work the member accounts. Not including the link would mean visitors e-mailing to say, "Prove it." So we're including the link. It may have been the wrong decision and I'll go with Beth's call on that.)

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