Thursday, May 21, 2009

3 US soldiers killed in Iraq

AP reports this morning that 3 US soldiers are dead and nine more injured from a roadside bombing in Baghdad and they cite US Army Maj David Shoupe as their source. The announcement brings to 4299 the number of US service members killed in the illegal war -- one away from the 4300 mark.

With that and this morning's violence, it's not a good time to Happy Feet it through another wave of Operation Happy Talk. Sadly, some did.

Violence sweeps through Iraq on extra strength today. BBC (link has text and video) notes Baghdad and Kirkuk in their story about the 23 reported deaths. On Kirkuk, we'll note CNN: "Also Thursday, a bomber struck outside an army headquarters in southern Kirkuk, a city about 150 miles north of Baghdad, police said. The explosion killed eight Awakening Council members who were lining up to receive their monthly salaries. Four other council members were wounded in the attack." Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) adds, "The bomber ran into the group today as they queued to collect their salaries and detonated a belt laden with explosives, according to the Web site of President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party."

We'll stay with Sahwa ("Awakening" and "Sons Of Iraq") to note Jack Dolan and Sahar Issa's "Iraqi militiamen frustrated that promised jobs haven't materialized" (McClatchy Newspapers):

However, Raad Sabah al Alwani, a local Sunni leader who helped the U.S. military overcome the extremists in embattled Anbar province in 2007, said his pleas to the Shiite Muslim-dominated Iraqi government for reinforcements and support had fallen on deaf ears.
[. . .]
For nearly a year, U.S. commanders have offered the Sons of Iraq reassurance that they'll be rewarded with permanent jobs in the Iraqi security forces and other government ministries. So far, however, the Sunni fighters say, Maliki's government has been slow to act.

In the New York Times today, Campbell Robertson and Atheer Kakan offer "At Least 34 Dead in Baghdad Bombing" note yesterday's bombing -- the death toll on yesterday's bombing has risen -- 40 when Caroline Alexander reported and 41 Reuters. The reporters quote survivor Hadi Faleh who states, "I felt nothing. And now I cannot hear anything."

Yesterday the Senate Democratic Committee held a hearing about KBR's war profiteering and, specifically, how their shoddy electrical work put US service members at risk of death. Kimberly Hefling (AP) offers a BAD 'report' on the hearing, specifically this section:

William P. Utt, the chairman of Houston-based KBR Inc. told The Associated Press in an interview that the company was not expected to meet the U.S. electrical code in a wartime environment. He said the company was striving to meet the British electrical code, which was more in line with the Iraqi electrical system.

Were you at the hearing, Hefling? (I didn't see her.) If she was, why did she print KBR's assertion and not the testimony offered at the hearing which contradicts it? From yesterday's snapshot:

Jim Childs went over his various and many qualifications and explained he went to work for Stanley Baker Hill in Iraq and was there for fifteen months. He explained that KBR built "roughly 90,000 buildings" in Iraq and that none of them were up to code which led KBR to insist they were using the British electrical code BS7671 but holding it to that code only results in more errors for KBR. "During my theater-wide inspections," Child explained, "I concluded that roughly 90 percent of the new construction buildings worked on by KBR were not properly wired. This means that over 70,000 buildings in Iraq were not up to code." KBR's shoddy work is not limited to Iraq, Childs explained, "While doing inspections in Afghanistan, I found the exact same code violations." Eric Peters than spoke.

PDF format warning, from Childs' opening statement:

KBR is responsible for about 4,000 to 6,000 hardstand buildings that existed before the war. The other roughly 90,000 buildings that KBR is responsible for under LOGCAP were built after the War in Iraq started and most were built by KBR and/or its subcontractors and the military. Many of these buildings are containerized living units, shower units, and latrines for soldiers to use on a daily basis. KBR did not do this work to any electrical code. KBR now claims to have used the British code BS7671 as its code, not the NEC. If you were to use the BS
7671 standards, there would be even more KBR code violations. Army inspectors interviewed KBR workers at the time of inspections. Almost all stated they were working to meet the NEC.
They did not even know the British code and had never received any training related to the British code. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Is that too hard for Hefling to understand? And is it too much for AP to send reporters into hearings or just to expect that they will pay attention? AP has a real problem when it comes to reporting on Congressional hearings and apparently that includes reporting on the Senate Democratic Committee.

KBR chose not to appear at the hearing. As Senator Byron Dorgan noted during the hearing, he was sure they'd offer a denial after the hearing. It sure was 'nice' of Hefling to not only get a statement from them but to refuse to report how their claim had already been rejected by a Master Electrician in the hearing. Some might call it reporting -- they apparently have very few standards.

Speaking of few standards, Barry O. wowOwow reports this morning that outed CIA agent, Valerie Plame, finds no support from Barry O in efforts to hold the Bush administration accountable for blowing her cover:

The Supreme Court dismissed the case, a move that pleased Bush officials, but the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington appealed for them to reconsider. Now CREW reports that the Obama administration opposes the effort, effectively saying that Plame and Wilson have no case against the former government officials.
CREW and Plame's lawyers say that the Obama administration's stance "cannot be reconciled with President Obama's oft-stated commitment to once again make government officials accountable for their actions."

In more Barry O news:

"Watch It: Obama Speech on Guantánamo Military Commissions Thursday Morning " (ACLU):
Tomorrow morning at 10:10 a.m., President Obama will deliver a
"major national security speech" from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. We’re expecting more details on his plans to revive the unfixable military commissions.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a
statement last week:
These military commissions are inherently illegitimate, unconstitutional and incapable of delivering outcomes we can trust… Despite the administration’s efforts to improve the system, the only explanation for reviving it would be to accommodate the damage that has already been done by the Bush administration’s policies of torture, illegal detention and denial of fair trials.We implore President Obama to not allow failure beget more failure.
Close Guantánamo, and end the military commissions once and for all. Move the detainees’ cases to federal courts, where true justice can be rendered.

I swiped that from Elaine who asked me to note it. Also, the hearing AP has screwed up is one Kat reported on last night.

Missy Reed, Waleed Ibrahim, Mohammed Abbas, Aseel Kami, Deborah Lutterback, Alistair Lyon(Reuters) have a must read this morning. Here's the opening, "Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose fiery anti-American message mobilised millions of poor Shi'ites after the 2003 invasion, has faded from the public eye since he embraced religious studies in Iran two years ago."

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