Sunday, December 03, 2006

NYT: Kirk Semple reports on Iraq, Cloud & Gordo visit fantasy camp

Three car bombs exploded in quick succession in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of central Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 51 people and wounding at least 86, many of whom were shopping at a crowded street market, Iraqi government officials said.
[. . .]
Ayad Said, a 35-year-old merchant of spare machinery parts, said he was sitting outside his home near the Sadriya market when he heard what he described as "a very huge explosion." The blast shattered windows throughout the neighborhood and sprayed shrapnel everywhere, he said.
Many people -- some yelling, others crying -- ran from their houses and toward the market in search of family members, he said.
"I saw lots of dead people," he recalled in a telephone interview.
Rescuers and family members clawed through smoldering debris and the twisted metal frames of food and vegetable carts, separating bodies and survivors from the wreckage.

The above is from Kirk Semple's "String of 3 Car Bombs Kills 51 at Busy Market in Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times which also addresses other violence and notes the kidnapping last week (see Friday) of Hadib Majhoul.

Meanwhile, the US military announces today: "A Multi-National Corps – Iraq Soldier died from injuries sustained when the convoy he was traveling in struck an improvised explosive device near Taji, Iraq, at approximately 8:30 a.m. Saturday" and "Two Soldiers assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) were killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting a security patrol in the Al Anbar province of Iraq Dec 2."

Back to the Times. Michael Gordon's gone wow-wow over Donald Rumsfeld. He and David S. Cloud contribute "Rumsfeld Memo on Iraq Proposed ‘Major’ Change:"

The memorandum sometimes has a finger-wagging tone, as Mr. Rumsfeld says that the Iraqis must "pull up their socks," and suggests that reconstruction aid should be withheld in violent areas to avoid rewarding "bad behavior."
Other options called for shrinking the number of bases, establishing benchmarks that would mark the Iraqis' progress toward political, economic and security goals and conducting a "reverse embeds" program to attach Iraqi soldiers to American squads.
The memo was finished one day after President Bush interviewed Robert M. Gates, the president of Texas A&M University, as a potential successor to Mr. Rumsfeld and one day before the midterm elections. By then it was clear that the Republicans appeared likely to suffer a setback at the polls and that the administration was poised to begin reconsidering its Iraq strategy.

The cover your own ass memo he wrote before he was out the door. Gordo and Cloud are covering something as well -- the most important bit of the memo -- well into their story, 23rd paragraph (check my math), where they note what they should have led with.

Here it is from the Rumsfled memo:

Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Fallujah when they pushed in reconstruction funds, and start rewarding good behavior. Put our reconstruction efforts in those parts of Iraq that are behaving, and invest and create havens of opportunity to reward them for their good behavior. As the old saying goes, "If you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something, penalize it." No more reconstruction assistance in areas where there is violence.

Rumsfled' paternalism is appalling but what's worse is he again demonstrates ignorance or contempt for the law. By the time Falluja was slaughtered (November 2004), the US were occupiers and, as such, bound by certain laws and regulations. You can't withhold funds. And he dubs it 'reconstruction' which Cloud and Gordo run with. People who lost their homes, lost everything, were given 200 dollars in cash. If they were lucky (many weren't), they had family who could take them in. The rest end up in refugee tents. 200 dollars doesn't rebuild a home. 200 dollars when you've lost everything (and there's little employment in Iraq) isn't 'reconstruction' funds. Nor is setting up scanners around Falluja. The hospital was attacked, everything was attacked. The US military prevented the Red Cross from going in. Even the US government now admits that white phosphorus was used (though to illuminate, is the claim). The city was destroyed and it still is. The only 'reconstruction' funds were the paltry dollars that were doled out for the destruction of homes. Since occupying forces are not allowed to target civilian infrastructure, that was a crime. Not repairing it is a crime. People living in tents all this time after November 2004 is an injustice. Gordo and Cloud don't want to explore that reality.

New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Editorial: Return of the Toad, Robert Gates
TV: Big Rip Off
What happened in Amman?
The One About The Nation
Yes, RadioNation with Laura Flanders did air
Worst Video Collection
NYT: Wednesday Repeats
Iraq Study Group Calls for All US Troops to Leave ...

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[C.I. note: Post corrected. "Thomas" was in front of the kidnapped victim's name.]