Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The denial crumbles

Iraqi forces raided the provincial government compound in Diyala early Tuesday morning, killing the governor's secretary and confiscating computers and cars before local police engaged them in a two-hour gun battle, police and local officials said.
Four policemen were wounded, according to a police source.
Forces arrested Hussein al Zubaidi, provincial council member and head of the security committee. A nearby raid conducted almost simultaneously by unidentified armed forces arrested the president of Diyala University.
Taha Dria, a Shiite lawmaker from Diyala who was not in the government compound during the raid, said the armed forces were from Iraq's Emergency Response Unit, an American-trained unit similar to U.S. Special Forces.
"They were wearing khaki. Their weapons were American. The Humvees they used looked American," said the governor's surviving secretary, Abbas Adnan, who was in the government compound when it was raided. "They didn’t have any ranks on their shoulders. They didn't talk."

The above is from Nicholas Spangler and Laith Hammoudi's "Iraqi army raid in Diyala leaves provincial official dead" (McClatchy Newspapers) which also includes eye witnesses stating that two American helicopters were present and that the helicopters fired on Iraqis. The US military, for those who have forgotten, issued a denial yesterday that the one helicopter they claimed was present was in any way involved. Already that denial begins crumbling as the US military admits that there were two -- and not one -- helicopters present.

Ned Parker and Usama Redha's "Raid on governor's office in Iraq's Diyala province sparks outrage" (Los Angeles Times) offers:

Another raid led to the arrest of a prominent Sunni university dean.Questions swirled around who deployed the troops. The special forces unit, referred to by detractors as the dirty squad, reports to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's counter-terrorism office. Spokesmen for Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, and the Defense Ministry said the prime minister had not ordered the raids.
"These special forces work with the Americans. They are not associated with the Ministry of Defense," ministry spokesman Mohammed Askari said. "They have goals, and they didn't inform anyone else."
The unit, long considered Iraq's most effective, generally operates with U.S. military advisors and has been sent on missions targeting the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Iraq as well as the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia. The U.S. military denied involvement in the operation.

Meanwhile the New York Times dummies up on yesterday's events and instead offers Campbell Robertson's "Iraq Poised To Revive Oil Contract With China" (A12) which offers little information but continues to suggest (by their own focus) that the illegal war was about oil.

Turning to US politics, the independent presidential campaign of Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez has created a page at their website entitled Ralph's Daily Audio. Here is yesterday's "The Bloated Defense Budget:"

This is Ralph Nader. Remember reading or hearing the farewell address of President Dwight Eisenhower? 1960, when he warned Americans about what he called "the military industrial complex." Well, just a few words about where we are in the military budget.
It's now 1/2 of the entire federal government's operating expenditures. It's way over $700 billion and that's not counting the money for helping our veterans.
Both Obama and McCain want to increase the military budget. The Government Accountability Office yearly describes the gigantic Pentagon contracting budget unaduitable. Just imagine, half of what the federal government spends in operating expenditures can't even be audited. For example, people inside the Defense Department think that the F-22 should never have been contract for, built wasn't necessary. The Osprey helicopter -- defective, killed quite a few marines in test flights, shouldn't have been built in their judgment.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are in the pipeline for weapons systems that were designed for the Soviet Union-era of hostility. They no longer have any strategic value and many of them are redundant. We've got to cut the waste out of the huge military budget and put that money back into repairing America's public works and cities, towns and rural areas all over the country.
If we cut out the expenditures of keeping our soldiers out of Japan and Western Europe -- 60-plus years after WWII -- a portion of that money could give free education to all students in public universities in the United States. Think about it.
Think about who stands for a lean defense -- not a wasteful defense; who stands for respecting your tax payer dollar and returning it to you to improve the public facilities, schools and clinics, libraries, drinking water systems, sewage stream and plant upgrades among some of the deferred maintenance that's reducing the facilities that are necessary for a thriving community.

The e-mail address for this site is

laith hammoudi
nicholas spangler
usama redha
the los angeles times
ned parker
saif hameed
the new york times
campbell robertson