Monday, September 24, 2007

Other Items

Reuters reports that Sunday saw the murder of another journalists in Iraq -- Jawad al-Daami who was shot to death, a bombing attempt today on the police chief in Kirkuk (who had no injuries but two of his guards were injured), another assassination attempt on mayor in Kirkuk (one of is bodyguards was killed and seven were wounded) and on Sunday, in Kut, the police chief of the Wasit province was the target of an assassination attempt (the wounded were two of his bodyguards).

Inside Iraq is the blog run by McClatchy Newspapers correspondents who are Iraqi. There's a pretty amazing post entitled "Why should Iraq be in the Guinness Book" that needs to be read in full. From it:

We (I mean Iraq) changed our governments six times in less than four years starting from the two US governors Jay Garner and Paul Bremer then the governing council when we had a new president each month ( 11 presidents in 9 months) then Allawi government then Jafari government and now we have Al Maliki government.
We have one of the biggest cabinets in the world. No, we have 36 ministries. I even cant count them but I know that we even have ministers who do nothing but traveling from one country to another and getting paid.
We have the largest number of US troops. We have more than 160 thousands all over Iraq. Im afraid that the continuous immigration of Iraqis will cause a problem to these troops because Im afraid that one day will come and the US troops would find the Iraqi houses empty. The will have that strange feeling of loneliness and they would ask their commanders "Can you tell me what are we doing here Sir?"
We seem to have the longest blast walls in the world. Some blast walls were built to protect other blast walls like the ones around the green zone which protect the houses of the officials in the green zone whose houses are surrounded by other blast walls. I'm sure if we take all the concrete blocs of the blast walls from all over Iraq and put them on the Iraqi borders, we would have enough concrete blocs to build a giant blast wall that circles Iraq. In fact we would help the neighbor countries and they would never think of building any walls like Saudi Arab does now. They would send a thank you letter. I'm afraid that one day I would have to pass through a blast wall to go from my bedroom to the kitchen.

As Trina noted this weekend, Monday night, Dennis Kucinich will be a guest on The Tonight Show on NBC. (If you're a Diana Krall or fan of 'The Rock,' they are also schedule to appear.)"

Martha notes Josh White and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reporting on the new plan out of the Pentagon where "U.S. military snipers in Iraq . . . target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of 'bait,' such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then . . . [kill] Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents." The "newness" factor can be debated since a technique long used in Iraq has been the US military leaving items out and then shooting Iraqis for touching US government property. From the article:

"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces."
In documents obtained by The Washington Post from family members of the accused soldiers, Didier said members of the U.S. military's Asymmetric Warfare Group visited his unit in January and later passed along ammunition boxes filled with the "drop items" to be used "to disrupt the AIF [Anti-Iraq Forces] attempts at harming Coalition Forces and give us the upper hand in a fight."

Military 'expert' Eugene Fidell is quoted and appears surprised by the (not new) development indicating yet again that Terry Gross books idiots because if Fidell was the 'expert' he was allowed to portray on Not So Fresh Air he would have grasped that Ehren Watada did have legal standing and if he knew the first thing about war resisters today he would know this program is not 'new'.

Finally, Ginger Thompson and Eric Schmitt's "Graft in U.S. Army Contracts Spread From Kuwait Base" appears in this morning's New York Times:

The accusations against Major [John Lee] Cockerham are tied to a crisis of corruption inside the behemoth bureaucracy that sustains America’s troops. Pentagon officials are investigating some $6 billion in military contracts, most covering supplies as varied as bottled water, tents and latrines for troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The inquiries have resulted in charges against at least 29 civilians and soldiers, more than 75 other criminal investigations and the suicides of at least two officers. They have prompted the Pentagon, the largest purchasing agency in the world, to overhaul its war-zone procurement system.
Much of the scrutiny has focused on the contracting office where Major Cockerham worked at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, a world away from Castor in more than miles. Until the buildup to the war in Iraq, it was a tiny outpost with a staff of 7 to 12 people who awarded about $150 million a year in contracts, according to Bryon J. Young, a retired Army colonel and the current director of the Army Contracting Agency.

Among other things, the reporters also note that "One, Maj. Gloria D. Davis of Missouri, shot herself in December 2006, a day after admitting she took at least $225,00 in bribes, government officials said."

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