Today, the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed at approximately 10:30 p.m. Feb. 19 when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in northwestern Baghdad."
On Monday, rocket attacks were launched on the US military compound near Baghdad International Airport and the attacks were launched again yesterday. McClatchy Newspapers reports on yesterday's attacks:
At least four American soldiers were injured when rockets slammed into two American security outposts almost simultaneously.
Iraqi police said seven Iraqi soldiers died and a dozen were injured later when they found a truck that had been used in the attack and attempted to defuse unfired rockets. The rockets exploded, however, damaging several military vehicles nearby, Iraqi police said.
Meanwhile, something distrubing takes place in Iraq and does so without being called out. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:
Iraqi authorities plan to round up homeless and mentally ill residents on Baghdad streets to prevent them from becoming used -- knowingly or unknowingly -- as suicide bombers by insurgents, an Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.
The move follows a pair of high-profile February 1 bombings that left almost 100 people dead.
The bombers, who hit a Baghdad pet market, were mentally handicapped women and the explosives strapped to their bodies were detonated by remote control, said U.S. and Iraqi authorities.
Police will hand beggars, vagrants and the mentally handicapped over to governmental institutions that can provide them with shelter and care, a high-ranking official in the interior minister's office told CNN.
No, the Feb. 1st Baghdad bombings have not been proven to have involved the use of mentally handicapped women. You can quote Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf till the cows come home, you can even present the head of a thug ministry as a respected source, but you can't change the fact that there has been no proof and that eye witnesses disagree with the claim that the women were mentally disabled. If you're not bothered yet, read Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) on the same topic:
Khalaf said Iraqi law already prohibits beggars and the mentally disabled from "hanging around in the streets." He said beggars younger than 18 would be brought to shelters and adult professional panhandlers would be charged with crimes. The mentally disabled would be taken to hospitals, he said.
"These people with mental defects can cause a lot of damage if they are left on the streets and taken advantage of by al-Qaeda," Khalaf said. "Their proper place is in the hospitals."
Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, a U.S. military spokesman, said in an e-mail that the U.S.-led coalition was "aware of the Ministry of Interior's efforts to try and protect homeless and mentally impaired citizens from becoming the unwitting victims of al-Qaeda in Iraq. It is our understanding that the MOI intends to transfer these, the most vulnerable of Iraq's people, to the Ministry of Work and Social Affairs."
Professional panhandlers would be charged with crimes. They "and the mentally disabled" are prohibited "from hanging around in the streets." The thugs of the Interior Ministry just got a pass on rounding up anyone they want to in a country where unemployment is the norm and where the mental health facilities are struggling at best. And what type of a country has a law on the books that bars the mentally disabled from being seen in public? This really is a disgrace and it's something that will be used to 'eliminate' people that are not in favor with the Interior Ministry. Again, there's still no proof that the mentally disabled have been used in bombings, even after the US raided a psychiatric hospital last week (CNN says they raided two).
Those 'pronounced' mentally disabled by the 'healers' in the Interior Ministry can be locked away with no rights -- for the 'crime' of what exactly? -- while those carted off to jail get the 'benefits' of the Iraqi 'justice' system which Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports on today:
The absence of the witnesses was the latest in a series of events that appear aimed at derailing the case, in which the officials are charged with using the resources of the Health Ministry to carry out a campaign of sectarian kidnappings and killings.
Witnesses have been intimidated; their families have been threatened; and information emerged this week suggesting that the trial's outcome was fixed. One of the judges scheduled to hear the case had reportedly already agreed to find the men not guilty, according to officials close to the court.
Still, the court has moved methodically forward, seemingly without government interference, despite the politically charged atmosphere around the case.
Not disturbed yet? Those are the benefits given to Shi'ite officials and Rubin explains who the two are: "The defendants, former Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili and Brig. Gen. Hameed al-Shammari, who led the ministry's security service, are charged with running militias that killed and kidnapped hundreds of Sunnis in hospitals run by the Health Ministry and other facilities in 2005 and 2006." We're back to the hospitals. Iraq's announced round-ups and they'll be targeting whomever the Interior Ministry wants but, by their stated 'high' purpose, they're going after the weakest in a society. That should set off alarms.
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amit r. paley
the new york times
alissa j. rubin