Friday, February 08, 2008

Kill teams and no 2008 budget still

An Army sniper went on trial Friday on charges of killing an Iraqi civilian and planting an AK-47 on his body to make him look like an insurgent.
Two other soldiers have faced similar charges in the same killing and two others. Those men were acquitted of the murder charges but were convicted of planting evidence on the bodies of the dead Iraqis.
Sgt. Evan Vela of St. Anthony, Idaho, faced a court-martial on one count of premeditated murder, making a false official statement and of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.
Military prosecutors say the killings occurred on April 14, April 27 and May 11 near Iskandariyah, a mostly Sunni Arab city 30 miles south of Baghdad.
Vela, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley, of Candler, N.C., and Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval, Jr., of Laredo, Texas, were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Hensley and Sandoval have since had their ranks reduced as part of their sentences.

That's from Bradley Brooks' "Iraq: Soldier's Murder Trial Opens" (AP) and Brooks goes on to note the orders to leave items out as bait and then to shoot-to-kill when US property was stumbled upon and touched. The "kill teams."

In the New York Times this morning, Alissa J. Rubin's "Iraqi Parliament Debates Split of Power and Money" is a grab bag that has to cram in the violence and assorted other topics into one story (there should have been at least two different articles covering these topics) and we'll focus on this regarding the 2008 budget:

The Iraqi Parliament again deferred a vote on the budget on Thursday as political blocs argued about how to divide financing among the provinces, but legislators did make headway toward approving a law that would outline provincial powers.
[. . .]
The debate on Iraq's 2008 budget, which was supposed to have been resolved with a vote in December, has revolved around how much of the money to allocate to the Kurds and whether the central government will pay the costs of the pesh merga soldiers, the Kurdish militia.
Lawmakers said Thursday that the Planning Ministry had collected data showing that Kurdistan had 14 percent to 15 percent of Iraq's population, and that it should get that share of the nonfederal part of the budget. However, in the last few years the Kurdish provinces have received 17 percent, a level the Kurds want to maintain.

Rubin notes one death of a US service member announced yesterday but the reality is that M-NF and DoD combined announced four deaths. DoD announces the names. M-NF is supposed to announce the deaths. Technically she might be right; however, yesterday M-NF issued press releases from the DoD (naming the dead M-NF 'forgot' to announce).

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