Iraq's interior minister, under pressure from Western officials and some Iraqi leaders to purge the ministry of sectarian influence, said Friday that he was preparing to reshuffle its leadership, and that he had the political backing to carry out the plan.
The minister, Jawad al Bolani, said in an interview on Friday that he had received the support of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, to make all necessary changes among his top commanders.
[. . .]
In Hilla on Friday, a bomb exploded in police headquarters, killing the commander of an Interior Ministry commando brigade as well as his deputy, according to the American military. State-run television reported that at least eight other police officers were killed in the blast.
Mr. Bolani said there was "a probability" that the attack had been coordinated from within the police force.
The above is from Kirk Semple and Michael Luo's "Iraqi Interior Minister to Purge Agency to Stem Killings" in this morning's New York Times.
Let's note that it wasn't an interview, it was either a press conference or the equivalent of a junket since, as the article notes, the press present for the 'interview' included the Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. As for the 'probability' that the attack in Hilla was an inside job -- since the bomb has been reported to have been either under the chair or under the desk of the "Pirate Jenny" nature would suggest an inside job.
Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot, you can purge all you want but the issue of training remains -- more so now that the US has cancelled the contract with Jordan for training (over Patrick Leahy's public objections), the training center in Baghdad (badly constructed by Parsons) is a joke that needs rebuilding just to meet the basic health requirements and suspicions that the Eighth Brigade of the Second Division of the Iraqi police force was involved in mass kidnappings in Baghdad has resulted in the decision to retrain over 700 police officers.
As the Washington Post, as Martha highlights in her e-mail, Ellen Knickmeyer's "Official: Guard Force Is Behind Death Squads" covers the conference or junket:
Iraq's interior minister on Friday rejected allegations that Iraq's police and military have played a major role in the death squads blamed for Baghdad's surging violence, saying that only a small number of all those caught in U.S. or Iraqi raids were members of the police or army.
Jawad al-Bolani, speaking to a small group of reporters in Baghdad, blamed the Facilities Protection Service, or FPS, a massive but unregulated government guard force whose numbers he put at about 150,000.
[. . .]
Bolani and his predecessor as interior minister, Bayan Jabr, both have minimized the possibility of any police involvement in the nightly killings. "We are experiencing a problem of impressions" regarding a police role in killings and militia infiltration of police, Bolani said Friday.
American generals were among the first to publicly express suspicion that the Facilities Protection Service was playing a key role in the growing sectarian killings. U.S. commanders themselves started the agency soon after the 2003 U.S-led invasion, intending it to be a force of a few thousand men who would guard buildings against looting.
The service today has grown to a size rivaling that of the U.S. force in Iraq, although control of the service's men is split among the various ministries they are nominally assigned to guard. Most wear uniforms similar or identical to those of the police.
Borzou Daragahi covers the story for the Los Angeles Times in "Iraqi Official Deflects Criticism" (and, like the Times of New York, the term "interview" is used -- wrongly in my opinion):
He said more than two-thirds of sectarian slaying victims were found in areas of Baghdad under the control of the Defense Ministry, which oversees the Iraqi army, suggesting that U.S. and Iraqi focus on the alleged abuses by his forces was misplaced."Baghdad is not only the Ministry of Interior," Bolani said in his office in the capital. "It is divided in responsibility."The Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry has been accused by Sunni Arab politicians of harboring or tolerating Shiite Muslim militias linked to killings of Sunni Arab civilians. Dozens of corpses showing signs of torture show up daily in the Tigris River or in abandoned lots. At least 18 bodies were discovered Friday in Baghdad.
Let's do a mini- snapshot of today in this entry. Scripps News Service weighs in on the "out of control" financial cost of the war in Iraq noting: "According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress already has appropriated $437 billion for war, not including $70 billion approved by the Senate as part of next year's record-breaking Pentagon budget. That's half a trillion dollars -- about three-quarters of it for Iraq, 20 percent for Afghanistan and 5 percent for increased security against terrorism at other foreign bases."
AFP notes that today officials announced the Friday evening slaughter of ten family members in Saifiyah by unknown assailants. This follows yesterday's report by Christopher Bodden (AP) of two girls and six women were shot dead in Suwayrah (while two more were kidnapped). On the latter, yesterday's The KPFA Evening News noted that the Suwayrah attack was clearly an attack on women -- a sign of the increased violence targeted at Iraqi women. Five women and three children were among the ten killed in yesterday evening's slaughter in Saifiyah. Reuters reports that today in Iraq: mortar rounds targeting a police headquarters near Hawija and a person was shot dead in Diwaniya. AFP notes that the person was a teacher. Dropping back to Tuesday October 3rd, Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, aired a report by Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib which explored the issue of the deaths of Iraqi professors and noted that 161 professors, minimum, have died in Iraq since the beginning of the illegal invasion.
Returning to today, AFP reports four beheaded corpses were found in Suweira, the corpses of 26 people who'd beeen kidnapped earlier today were found in Balad, and fourteen corpses were discovered in Baghdad (on the latter, they were discovered "between dawn on Friday and Saturday"). Bombs went off in Baghdad, as usual and that's only some of the reported violence.
We'll close with a highlight from Eli, Tom Raum's "Bush keeps revising war justification" (AP):
President Bush keeps revising his explanation for why the U.S. is in Iraq, moving from narrow military objectives at first to history-of-civilization stakes now.
Initially, the rationale was specific: to stop Saddam Hussein from using what Bush claimed were the Iraqi leader's weapons of mass destruction or from selling them to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.
But 3 1/2 years later, with no weapons found, still no end in sight and the war a liability for nearly all Republicans on the ballot Nov. 7, the justification has become far broader and now includes the expansive "struggle between good and evil."
And that won't play either. The administration's that marketed an illegal war is now stupid enough to think they can go from a concrete lie (WMDs -- which people could conjure up in their minds and be scared of) to the more porous catch all of his "good and evil" -- requiring that people play with dualities the way he does and that, after all this time, his word on what's what carries much weight.
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