Sunday, September 30, 2007

Body counts, Blackwater, wounded & more

ICCC list the total of announced US service member deaths for the month at 62 currently with 3803 killed in the illegal war since it started. AFP, however, reports, "As September drew to a close, US military losses for the month stood at 71, the lowest monthly figure since July last year, according to an AFP tally based on Pentagon figures." It is not a minor issue and you can blame M-NF for the confusion as they refused to do their job and make death announcements one week this month.

Dominick notes "BACK IN IRAQ: THE 'WHORES OF WAR'" from Scotland's Sunday Herald:

EVEN FOR Blackwater, it was an atrocity too far. If an Iraqi government report is to be believed, Blackwater, a US mercenary company which is unofficially the world's largest "for hire" private army, indiscriminately and without provocation opened fire earlier this month on civilians in a Baghdad street, killing at least 20 people.
Iraq immediately revoked the firm's licence to operate in the country and moved to expel its staff and prosecute those responsible for the shootings, but Blackwater's activities have since resumed.
This coincides with the release of a US Embassy report on the September 16 shooting, obtained by the Washington Post and described by a State Department official as a "first blush" account. It details the events, as given by Blackwater guards, and has stirred controversy in Iraq and Washington and prompted an inquiry into the role of Blackwater and other private security firms in Iraq.
According to Blackwater, its mercenaries, known as mercs, were guarding a diplomatic convoy when it came under fire. The Iraqi government, however, insists there was no ambush and that Blackwater troops fired at a car when it failed to stop.

The "w" word is on the list of approved words. We don't generally use it here but we are quoting and it can be used and still be work-safe. (Ava and I use it the TV commentary today because the woman speaking of in that section said to use it because that's what she's being treated like by the little sexists of Crapapedia.) McClatchy Newspapers' Leila Fadel is leaving Iraq for a brief period. She writes about what stands out to her on her most recent stay in "Leaving" (Baghdad Observer):

For now I'm thinking about what happened while I was here. Shiites killing Shiites in Karbala, continued sectarian cleansing in the south, west and southwest of Baghdad, the government slowly unraveling as ministers pulled out and the Prime Minister here swearing he would not step down in the face of pressures for him to resign.
It all starts to run together sometimes. But the things that will stay with me over my break are Afrah's tears. I sat in her home this past week to talk about her mother Ghania. Afrah was the woman's favorite among her eight children. Often her sisters would complain that she and Ghania were always together.
Afrah talked about her kindness, Ghania would hide away her favorite foods for her or pick up clothes or trinkets from the market that reminded her of her daughter.
Ghania is gone, killed at the back of a bus by what witnesses said were bullets from Blackwater security guards on Sept. 16 in Nisour square. While they protected Americans Iraqis died, witnesses said.

Diane Rehm ( NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today ) may have been the only radio host to ask about the victims of the shooting (none of her guests could answer). Fadel reports on one of them.

AP reports:

The U.S. Embassy on Sunday criticized a Senate resolution that could lead to a division of the country into sectarian or ethnic territories, agreeing with a swath of Iraqi leaders in saying the proposal "would produce extraordinary suffering and bloodshed."
The unusual statement from the Bush administration came just hours after representatives of Iraq‘s major political parties denounced the U.S. Senate proposal calling for a limited centralized government with the bulk of the power given to the country's Shiite, Sunni or Kurdish regions, saying it would seriously hamper Iraq's future stability.

That's the Biden amendment that passed with 75 votes in the Senate. The one Nouri al-Maliki is denouncing (for now).

Bad news for Biden. (At least for now -- and before any visitor misreads that statement, we've always been against the partitioning of Iraq by anyone other than Iraqis. It's not the US decision to make. If they wanted to do that -- after they were a real government and not a puppet government, that would be their business.) In more things aren't falling into place for the US government, Ned Parker and and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report:

Iraq's divided political leadership, in a rare show of unity, skewered a non-binding U.S. Senate resolution approved in Washington last week that endorsed the decentralization of Iraq into semiautonomous regions.
The measure's advocacy of a weaker central government and strong Sunni Arab, Shiite and Kurdish regions has touched a nerve in the Iraqi political arena, stoking fears that the United States is planning to partition Iraq.
"The Congress adopted this proposal based on an incorrect reading and unrealistic estimations or the history, present and future of Iraq," said Ezzat al Shahbander, a member of secular former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's parliament bloc.
He was reading from a statement also signed by Iraq's preeminent religious Shiite Muslim parties and the main Sunni Arab bloc.
"It represents a dangerous precedent to establishing the nature of relationship between Iraq and the USA," the statement said, "and shows the Congress as if it were planning for a long-term occupation by their country's troops and for their staying in Iraq."

AFP reports that the US military has announced that they conducted an airstrike in Baghdad Saturday that killed at least 20 people. The military labeles them as 'terrorists'.

At the public e-mail account, a visitor notes Alexei Bayer's "The Rot Eating at America's Soul" (The Moscow Times):

The tables were turned when Bush invaded Iraq. The Soviet Union had been off the map for over a decade. The United States was the only remaining superpower. Democracy and free enterprise had triumphed everywhere. Surely in the few places where freedom's introduction tarried, a gentle military nudge would do the job? Washington had the most powerful military in history; why not use it as a force for good?
The reason why the Soviet Union is no more has much to do with the costly disaster in Afghanistan. A decade later, the Soviet Union was pauperized and demoralized. It lost 15,000 soldiers by the time the troops were finally pulled out. The U.S. military has lost close to 4,000 troops in four years. Since none of the realistic candidates in the 2008 presidential election has a plausible plan to end the war, it is likely that it will last through 2013, and the number of U.S. war dead will be rise accordingly. More to the point is the rot eating at the American soul from within due to the Iraqi crisis, ranging from the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal in 2004 and the Haditha massacre one year later to the lies that now pervade political discourse in Washington.
As to the cost of the war, it has not mattered as long as China is willing to lend Washington all the rope it needs to hang itself. The fun will begin when the credit line runs out.

On the subject of US troops wounded, Durham Gal notes Noelle Phillips' "Mother, sister travel to San Antonio to care for wounded soldier" (South Carolina's -- not North, don't be confused because Durham Gal sent it in -- The Times and Democrat):

By now, Ida Fleming and her daughter, Elaine Bennett, know the physical journey well.
Since May, the women have packed their suitcases every 10 days and flown from Columbia to San Antonio. There, they spend up to 10 days at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, caring for Sgt. Terry Fleming of Eastover.
He is Ida Fleming's son and Bennett's brother.
Terry Fleming, 25, was severely burned on his arms and legs in a May 12 roadside bomb blast in Iraq. He has spent the past five months in the medical center's intensive care unit for burn patients. Fleming is one of an estimated 357 South Carolina troops who have been wounded in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
For Fleming's mother and sister, five months of traveling back and forth has meant lost time at work, unkempt homes and an absence from family members who need them back in South Carolina.
"You're here, and your mind is in Texas," said Ida Fleming, 79. "You're in Texas, and your mind is at home. You're never settled."

Also on the subject of wounded service members, Gareth notes "Brain-damaged soldier receives 'insulting' compensation of one quarter the government maximum" (The Daily Mail):

The wife of a soldier left brain damaged from a roadside bomb in Iraq yesterday attacked the Ministry of Defence's 'insulting' compensation offer.
Sarah Edwards said the £114,000 payout would make it a huge struggle to provide for Lance Corporal Martin Edwards, who will require life long care, and their young son.
The cash was less than a quarter of the maximum £500,000 civilians injured in crimes or accidents would be entitled to under a government scheme.
Her criticism follows an outcry over the meagre compensation awarded to soldiers who have been severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
L-Cpl Edwards, a 25-year-old sniper, suffered head and brain injuries from a bomb last year only weeks before finishing a third tour of duty in Iraq.

Damien Cave has a front page article in this morning's New York Times. I've been up 33 hours straight and doubt I'd be fair to Cave if I noted it now. (I'm sure Cave thinks he's never treated fairly. We're a site for the left, live with it.) If it's worth noting, we'll note it tonight but as tired as I am right now, I know I wouldn't be fair.

New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Independent Media, Go To Your Room!
TV: Moronic Woman
Courage to Resist
Strangely familiar
Support the Jena 5 (or fact check on indymedia)
Now Bully Boy's concerned about spending? Now?
Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain
Rusty Yates

Thank you to West who pointed out that instead of changing the time on Isaiah's "Bloody War Hawks," I could just change the time on this entry before posting it and having less of a hassle. The e-mail address for this site is