Thursday, February 21, 2008

Other Items

Today the US military announced: " A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed when the Soldier's vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device Feb. 20. " The death brings the announced deaths of US service members in Iraq to 24 for the month thus far and to 3968 since the start of the illegal war -- 32 away from the 4,000 mark. Meanwhile Megan Levy (Telegraph of London) reports:

Iraqi police said the Wednesday night attck, near the British base outside Basra, was followed by a clash between troops and unidentified gunmen.
One of the British soldiers is thought to have been seriously injured, although the incident is not believed to have been fatal.
The three other soldiers are believed to have suffered minor injuries.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed four soldiers were injured, but could not provide any further details.

Staying with reports from the British press, The New Statesman offers "It's official: Blair's government set out to deceive us about Iraq:"

In July 2003, in the week following the death of David Kelly, a reader contacted the New Statesman and suggested that the media were missing the obvious. The Commons foreign affairs committee had just cleared the government of "sexing up" the September 2002 dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction -- a claim, first made by Andrew Gilligan on the BBC's Today programme, for which Dr Kelly may or may not have been the source.
Our caller pointed out that although the Commons committee had said it was satisfied the "first" draft dossier, produced on 10 September for a meeting of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), was the unspun work of intelligence, it had missed the true significance of a meeting the day before, chaired by Alastair Campbell.
Our caller was Chris Ames, whose name will for ever be etched on the memory of all those in government, particularly in the Foreign Office, who have resisted making public what has become known as the Williams draft (after John Williams, the Foreign Office press officer who wrote it). Using the Freedom of Information Act, Ames has doggedly pursued the evidence that he believed would show that the September dossier was the work not of intelligence experts, but of spin doctors whose intention was to "sex up" the known intelligence.
From denying that the document existed, to seeking to have it withheld because publication threatened government confidentiality, to claiming that the Williams draft was an uncommissioned activity by a bored press officer (who just happened to come up with conclusions similar to those of the JIC), the government has ducked and dived and done its utmost to obstruct Ames in his pursuit of the truth.
Now, almost five years after he first contacted us, Ames's efforts have borne fruit. On 18 February, just two days before the deadline set by the Information Tribunal, the Foreign Office released the Williams draft.

And Leila Fadel explores northern Iraq where tensions continue to run high in "Kurds impose limits on where Arabs can live in Iraq's north" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Every three months, Munawer Fayeq Rashid goes to the Asayech, an intelligence security agency in Irbil, and hands over his identification. The Shiite Muslim Arab never goes alone. He has to bring a Kurdish sponsor to vouch for him.
Although Irbil is part of Iraq, Iraqi Arabs who move here or elsewhere in Iraqi Kurdistan have learned that they're not considered fellow Iraqis.
"They treat us like foreigners," Rashid said.
When he moved to Irbil from Baghdad, worried about the safety of his Kurdish wife and his children, Rashid had to find a Kurd who'd swear that he was a good man. Then Kurdish authorities questioned him intensely before issuing him a residency permit that's good for only three months. He must carry it with him everywhere.
"They asked every detail about me," Rashid said. "'Where do you live? Who are your relatives? Who were your neighbors in Baghdad?' But the most nerve-wracking question was: 'Are you Sunni or Shiite?'"
Officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government say they have no choice but to vet people who want to move to the country's northern provinces, where violence has been far less common than it is in other parts of Iraq. If the government weren't so strict, it would run the risk of letting violent militants into the region, said Esmat Argoshi, the head of security in Irbil.

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