Sunday, May 11, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

"I've been very worried about stop-loss ever since I got here and found out what it was," Gates said. "I sent the Army a memo a year ago this spring asking for their plan to reduce stop-loss. Unfortunately, my decision to go to 15-month tours just made it impossible for them to achieve that."
President Bush's decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Iraq prompted Gates to order combat tours to be extended from 12 to 15 months. The number of soldiers affected by stop-loss, rose from 8,540 in May 2007 to 12,235 in March.

The last of the additional soldiers sent to Iraq will return home this summer. That should allow the number of troops affected by the policy to decline beginning in September, Gates said.

The above is from Tom Vanden Brook's "Gates defends troop quality" (USA Today). What's with the blah-blah? Damage control. Friday Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reported that stop-loss/backdoor draft numbers are increasing again: "number steadily declined through May 2007, when it hit 8,540. But since then, the number of soldiers subjected to stop-loss orders began to increase again, reaching 12,235 in March 2008." Gates is yacking it up because George W. Casey and US Army Secretay Pete Geren testified to the Senate Armed Services Committe (Feb. 26th) and committee chair Carl Levin specifically asked about stop-loss and was told that the number was "a little less than 8,000 today" -- which would be a LIE since the lowest it ever reached was 8,450 and that was in May of 2007 and the number then began it's climg to 12,235 (March 2008 -- a week after their testimony) and that the Army wanted to "move away from" using stop-loss. As Levin continued to ask for answers, Geren stated it might drop to 7,000. It was already well above 8,000 (it didn't leap to 12,235 one week later in a huge bound) and it never got below 8,000 over the previous 12 months. Geren, with Casey beside him nodding along, LIED to Congress. Levin asked specific questions and was LIED to. Now Gates is a on yack-fest to get 'information' out there and to shift the focus to that and not the LIE. Geren LIED. The same way the VA lied to Congress about the number of veterans' suicides.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war hit the 4,071 mark. And tonight? 4075. Today the US military announced: "A U.S. Soldier was killed when the vehicle he was traveling in experienced a roll over near Al Asad May 10. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation."Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates that 1,205,025 Iraqis have been killed due to the Iraq War, up from last Sunday's 1,205,025. In some of tody's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombing that left eight people wounded. Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing that injured two people.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi soldier shot dead in Kirkuk yesterday. Reuters notes 8 "militants" killed in Sadr City by the US military Saturday and today.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad and 2 discovered "between Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah". Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad Saturday.

Pru notes Simon Assaf's "Death toll rises in Sadr City siege" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Over 800 people are feared dead in the poor slums of Baghdad following a brutal month-long siege by US forces and their Iraqi allies.
The figure from the Iraqi government, updated from 400 announced last week, marks a new bloody turn following months of a ceasefire.
In the latest incident US warplanes levelled a five story apartment block and a hospital, killing an untold number of civilians.
The Sadr City neighbourhoods, home to over 2.5 million people, have been swelled recently by waves of refugees driven out of their homes by sectarian cleansing.
The US is attempting to destroy the Mehdi Army, a Shia Muslim resistance organisation headed by rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
The organisation enjoys popular support among the majority of poor Shias. Sadr has called on his supporters to fight the occupation after his plea for a ceasefire was ignored.
The US claims that Sadr is being armed by Iran. But even the US-backed Iraqi government, when questioned about the source of rockets hitting the Green Zone, the area in Baghdad where the occupation is based, admitted "there is no conclusive evidence" they were supplied by Iran.
Resistance fighters have stalled US forces at the edge of the Shia areas of the capital, prompting the occupation forces to launch a wave of attacks by warplanes, helicopter gunships and predator drones.
As occupation troops lay siege to Sadr City, the US unveiled a new "grand plan" for the Green Zone, now rebranded the "international zone".
Over the next five years the US plans to transform it into a "zone of influence" packed with luxury hotels, restaurants and up market homes.
Takers so far include the Marriot hotel chain, MBI International -- a conglomerate headed by Saudi billionaire sheikh Mohammed Bin Issa al-Jaber -- and a Californian company that wants to build an "amusement centre" worth £250 million.
According to the US, property values inside the Green Zone have risen from £25 a square meter to over £250.
This playground of seven-star hotels will be defended by 15 foot concrete blast barriers, razor wire and heavily armed troops.
The main problem with this plan is the steady stream of rockets raining down on the Green Zone.
Over the past month resistance fighters in the Iraqi capital have fired over 700 rockets and mortars into the zone killing scores of US troops and contractors.
Part of the US offensive on Baghdad neighbourhoods is to "pacify" areas of the city where the rockets are being launched.
Meanwhile the majority of Iraqis live in extreme poverty. They are forced to flee from one area to another to escape bombardments, military swoops and sectarian death squads.
Over two million have fled to neighbouring countries, while the relatively safer areas in the northern Kurdish regions are now in danger from ongoing Turkish military incursions.
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