Sunday, January 08, 2006

It appears as though the Cheney administration will soon "redeploy" thousands of US troops out of Iraq. While several permanent US military bases are under construction there as I type this, the Capital Hill Cabal, desperate to paint the Iraq disaster in a glorious hue, are working their pundits and spokespeople overtime to convince the ill-informed they have not failed dismally in every aspect of their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Mr. Bush did not mention Iraq once. Instead, he spoke of the bright and shining US economy and the need to maintain current tax cuts.
"Unfortunately, just as we’re seeing new evidence of how our tax cuts have created jobs and opportunity, some people in Washington are saying we need to raise your taxes," he said, "They want the tax cuts to expire in a few years, or even repeal the tax cuts now."
What better time to maintain tax cuts in the US, particularly when a new study by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes estimates the cost of the Iraq war to be between $1-2 trillion, and the national debt already over $8 trillion?
Meanwhile, the reality in Iraq is the opposite of that generated by the Cheney administration as the carnage and chaos in Iraq worsens each day.

The above is from Dahr Jamail's "US Propaganda vs. Iraqi Reality" (Iraq Dispatches). Sunday night and we're taking a look at reports from outside the US mainstream media with a focus on Iraq for this entry. How much is the war costing finacially? Is there any impeachment talk in England? With the CPT not interesting enough for the mainstream press to cover, surely no more kidnappings are being reported, right? Who dies last week that a member thinks is worthy of noting? These and other issues addressed in highlights that follow.

From US propaganda to reality, Vince notes Sameer N. Yacoub's "12 killed as U.S. Black Hawk crashes in Iraq" (Canada's Star Phoenix):

A Black Hawk helicopter believed to be carrying 12 people crashed in northern Iraq and killed everyone aboard, while five U.S. marines were slain in separate weekend attacks, the military said Sunday.
The deaths came as Iraqi police said a kidnapped French engineer was released by his captors.
The UH-60 Black Hawk crashed just before midnight Saturday about 12 kilometres east of the insurgent stronghold of Tal Afar, a northern city near the Syrian border, the officials said.
It was the deadliest helicopter crash in Iraq since a CH-53 Sea Stallion crashed in bad weather in western Iraq on Jan. 26, 2005, killing 31 U.S. service members.
In Saturday's crash, records indicated that eight passengers and four crew members were aboard, the officials said, but they did not say how many were members of the U.S. military or if all were Americans. The military also did not say what caused the crash.
The Black Hawk was part of a two-helicopter team moving between bases when communications were lost, the military said. A search and rescue operation was launched and the helicopter was found about noon Sunday, the military said.
Three marines were killed Sunday by small arms attacks in Fallujah, 40 kilometres west of Baghdad, the military said.
On Saturday, two marines were killed by roadside bombs in separate incidents, the military said. One blast occurred about 80 kilometres west of Baghdad, while the other happened about 50 kilometres north of the capital.
With the latest marine deaths, at least 2,199 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the war in 2003, according to an Associated Press count. That toll did not include those killed aboard the Black Hawk.

On the eighth day of the month of January, US military fatalities for the month thus far stand (as I type this) at 30. With the total at 2210 since the invasion, we passed the 2200 mark with little comment from the mainstream media in the United States. Remember the 2,000 mark?
It wasn't that long ago. Rallies and vigils similar to the ones that took place across the United States when the number of US military fatalities reached 2,000 are planned for England when they reach 100. Currently, the fatality report for British military deaths in Iraq stands at 98.

When it reaches one hundred (Jack Straw's again making noises that withdrawal is just around the corner), will there be any heat on Tony Blair? Kyle notes "Blair Should Be Impeached Over Iraq War: UK General" (

British Prime Minister Tony Blair should be impeached for his role in the Iraq war, a leading British Army officer was quoted as saying by Britain's the Mail on Sunday.
"I think the politicians should be held to account ... my view is that Blair should be impeached," General Sir Michael Rose, a former UN commander in Bosnia, said in a television documentary to be aired on Channel Four television on Friday, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"That would prevent the politicians treating quite so carelessly the subject of taking a country into war."
US President George Bush and his war alley Blair invaded Iraq in March 2003 without a mandate from the UN Security Council on claims of possessing weapons of mass destruction, none of them had ever been found.
"I would not have gone to war on such flimsy grounds," Rose said.
Clare Short, a former minister who quit Blair's government over the Iraq invasion, has said the government never held an honest debate concerning Iraq's WMDs and most ministers saw little intelligence and knew only what they read in the press.
In 2004, an official inquiry blasted the British pre-war intelligence as
unreliable and seriously flawed.

Back to on the ground realities in Iraq with Lynda's highlight, "US troops raid Sunni Arab complex" (Al Jazeera):

US troops have raided the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars, which opposes the US occupation of Iraq, and detained five people.
The association said US troops burst into the Umm al-Qura Mosque complex in western Baghdad at 3am (0000 GMT) on Sunday, blowing doors off hinges and ransacking offices.
A source in the office of Shaikh Harith al-Dhari, who heads the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), said: "They took Shaikh Unis al-Ugaidi [a member of the association], two employees and two guards.
"We do not know the reason, but it's obvious, it's due to the association's attitude towards the occupation."
He said US troops had disarmed about 20 bodyguards stationed in the complex and confiscated their weapons.The AMS is an influential group of Sunni Muslim scholars who hold sway over many Muslims, especially in the western governorate of Anbar, heartland of the revolt against the US presence in Iraq. Its leaders have called on US forces to withdraw from Iraq and boycotted the 15 December parliamentary election.

Highlights thus far have noted the realities on the ground, the issues of "leadership" and Gareth provides us with a look at the financial cost (for the United States), Jamie Wilson's "Iraq war could cost US over $2 trillion, says Nobel prize-winning economist" (The Guardian of London):

The real cost to the US of the Iraq war is likely to be between $1 trillion and $2 trillion (£1.1 trillion), up to 10 times more than previously thought, according to a report written by a Nobel prize-winning economist and a Harvard budget expert.
The study, which expanded on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, concluded that the US government is continuing to underestimate the cost of the war.

The report came during one of the most deadly periods in Iraq since the invasion, with the US military yesterday revising upwards to 11 the number of its troops killed during a wave of insurgent attacks on Thursday. More than 130 civilians were also killed when suicide bombers struck Shia pilgrims in Karbala and a police recruiting station in Ramadi.
The paper on the real cost of the war, written by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, is likely to add to the pressure on the White House on the war. It also followed the revelation this week that the White House had scaled back ambitions to rebuild Iraq and did not intend to seek funds for reconstruction.

Brandon noted this on a story he heard of last week on Democracy Now!, Jim Lobe's "Military Confidence in Bush Hits New Low" (IPS):

"The military had been so steadfast behind Bush," said [Military] Times managing editor Robert Hodierne, who said he was surprised by the decline in confidence. "When (the president's ratings are) dropping nine and 11 points -- especially in this community, which is very Republican and noticeably more conservative than the general population -- then the president needs to pay attention."
If support for Bush and the Iraq intervention among the professional military appears to be waning, however, lack of confidence in other civilian institutions -- particularly Congress and the media -- is even more pronounced, according to the survey.
It found that the estrangement between the military and the country's civilian leadership, a concern since the early 1990s, appears, if anything, to have grown over the past year.
And the civilian leadership in the Pentagon also appears to be viewed with scepticism. Fifty percent of respondents said they did not believe the civilian leadership of the Defence Department had their "best interests at heart".
The vast majority of military respondents also took issue with the Bush administration's estimates that the Iraqi military will be ready to replace large number of U.S. troops over the next year or two. Only 29 percent agreed with that projection, while 40 percent said it would take three to five years, and additional 24 percent said from five years to more than 10 years.

Olive notes an not yet confirmed report of a "US woman journalist kidnapped" (Australian Herald):

A US woman journalist was kidnapped in Baghdad today and her translator killed, Iraqi security sources said, in the latest hostage crisis involving Westerners in the war-torn country."A Western journalist was abducted by armed men in the Adl district of western Baghdad and her translator found dead," one source said.
An Iraqi defence ministry official said the interpreter was able to tell soldiers before he died that a US journalist had been kidnapped.
The US embassy said it was investigating reports of the kidnapping of one of its nationals.
Officials indicated the journalist was seized as she was on her way to interview prominent Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi.

Yes, the kidnappings continue. Despite the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk that few, outside of the New York Times' editorial board and the Bully Boy, really seemed to have the stomach for this round. With good reason.

Polly wanted to note a passing, "My Lai massacre hero dies at 62" (BBC):

Hugh Thompson Jnr, a former US military helicopter pilot who helped stop one of the most infamous massacres of the Vietnam War has died, aged 62.
Mr Thompson and his crew came upon US troops killing civilians at the village of My Lai on 16 March 1968.
He put his helicopter down between the soldiers and villagers, ordering his men to shoot their fellow Americans if they attacked the civilians.
"There was no way I could turn my back on them," he later said of the victims.
Mr Thompson, a warrant officer at the time, called in support from other US helicopters, and together they airlifted at least nine Vietnamese civilians - including a wounded boy - to safety.

Thompson's actions weren't honored immediately by the military. Something to remember with Pru's highlight of an action that is a setback but hopefully not the end of the issue. Pru notes
"No justice in military families inquiry ruling" (the UK's Socialist Worker):

Justice Andrew Collins dealt a blow to campaigners from Military Families Against the War in late December.
He told the families they could not seek a judicial review into the government's refusal to allow a public inquiry into the Iraq war.
Rose Gentle, from Military Families Against the War, said, "The families believe the decision to invade Iraq was based on deceit and lies. Our sons and husbands were sent to their deaths on the backs of these lies.
"This war is a crime against humanity and it demands a full independent and effective public inquiry into the background and build up to the invasion of Iraq. The families are determined to continue with their campaign."
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