Thursday, October 26, 2006

Knickmeyer raised the issue (that Gen. Casey ignored)

"General Casey has repeatedly said resolving the milita issue will take a military and political approach. But Prime Minister Maliki has made clear that he doesn't want any kind of U.S. military action against the militias. He said that specificially, and he's blocked you from entering Sadr City."

Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) asking George Casey a question in Tuesday's press conference. To alter Carly Simon's "The Right Thing To Do," Knickmeyer's no prophet, but she does know occupation ways. She's been covering it for some time. Why is that she appears to have known more than George Casey who is the military person in charge of the illegal war and occupation?

From Sabrina Tavernise's "Iraq's Leader Jabs at U.S. on Timetables and Militias" (New York Times):

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki put himself at odds on Wednesday with the American government that backs him, distancing himself from the American notion of a timetable for stabilizing Iraq and criticizing an American-backed raid on a Shiite militia enclave.
Speaking in Baghdad just hours before President Bush held a news conference in Washington, Mr. Maliki tailored his remarks to a domestic audience, reassuring the millions of Shiites who form his power base that he would not bend to pressure by the American government over how to conduct internal Iraqi affairs.
His comments stood in stark contrast to the message given Tuesday by the top two United States officials in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who said the timetable for political measures had been accepted by the Iraqi government.

But, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, al-Maliki said no such thing when he held his press conference yesterday.

Back to Tavernise:

Mr. Maliki's stance differs sharply from views presented by American officials, who speak of Shiite death squads as an evil equal to that of the Sunni insurgents. But it fits snugly inside the circle of hardening Shiite sentiment that the American military, in keeping full control of security, has not given the Iraqi government full power to intervene when Sunni militias or insurgents carry out sectarian cleansing.

[Yesterday, Michal R. Gordon addressed some of the realities of the Iraqi army. The plan was to note that in yesterday's snapshot. There wasn't time. So it's noted today.]

From the Los Angeles Times, we'll note Lousie Roug's "10 killed as U.S. raids Sadr City" and pay attention to the second paragraph:

U.S.-led forces battled gunmen in Sadr City during two rare forays into the vast Shiite Muslim slum Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and drawing a swift rebuke from Iraq's prime minister.
The American troops, who called in airstrikes as they came under attack, were searching for a kidnapped U.S. soldier and hunting for a Shiite death-squad leader, authorities said.
The U.S. military said in a statement that the action had been authorized by the Iraqi government. But Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite, quickly renounced the operation, telling reporters at a news conference that it was an example of a continuing lack of coordination between Iraqi and U.S.-led troops.

Yesterday's snapshot attracted all the creepy crawlies to the public account. One point that had drive-by visitors enraged were the following comments refuting the official explanation at the time:

Another key point is that the Iraqi military was on the ground and calling in air strikes which, on the face of it, seems unlikely. All the more so when the BBC reports: "But Iraqi police said the US troops shot at them while they were trying to take people injured in the raid to hospital." From helicopters? Doubtful.

It was doubtful and it's now been backed off. That the creepy crawlies couldn't grasp that yesterday goes to their own issues. The second point in the drive-by e-mails was, the press conference on Tuesday. The remarks noted were stated. I'm looking for a transcript of that still (online). If I don't find one today, this evening, I'll type up the faxed copy I got on that. (Type up because I'm not marking out the number it came from and trusting that someone won't be able to figure out a way to remove that online.)

As Gina long ago dubbed this site, it's a private conversation taking place in a public sphere. I'm not here to spoonfeed visitors, burp them or wipe their asses. The remarks quoted in yesterday's snapshot were said in the press conference. That they shocked visitors so (and we'll end with the second most shocking to visitors) isn't really my concern.

Turning to members e-mails, Lloyd notes John Ward Anderson's "Iraqi Premier Denies U.S. Assertion He Agreed to Timelines" (Washington Post):

Five U.S. servicemen were killed in western Iraq on Wednesday, raising the October death toll to 96 and making it the fourth deadliest month for U.S. troops in the 3-1/2 year war, the U.S. military reported Thursday.
A sailor and four Marines were killed Wednesday in enemy action in al-Anbar province west of Baghdad, an area of Iraq that is a stronghold for the radical Sunni group Al Qaeda in Iraq, a military statement said. It did not say whether they died in the same incident.

Al-Anbar province is by far the deadliest for U.S. troops: about 1,017 U.S. servicemen and women have been killed there since the war began, compared to 733 in Baghdad and 281 in Salahuddin province north of the capital, according to, which tracks casualties in Iraq. So far in October, 35 U.S. troops have been killed in al-Anbar, 42 in Baghdad and seven in Salahuddin, accounting for 88 percent of the U.S. fatalities, according to the Web site.

Noted in yesterday's snapshot, from Tuesday's press conference:

Lara Logan: Lara Logan, CBS News. Ambassador Khalilzad, if I can ask you, please, has Muqtada al-Sadr actually agreed to any of the plans that you've outlined here? Has there been any direct contact between him and U.S. representatives? Because him and all of his ministers who control key ministries, like the Ministry of Health, say that they refuse still to have any direct contact with the U.S. And if that is the case, then how are we expected to believe that they will support this plan in any way? And to General Casey, can I ask you, please, can we have an honest assessment of the Iraqi security forces? Because when we're on the ground with your commanders, they tell us that when they try and order up an operation and ask for the Iraqi battalion or the Iraqi brigade, they're lucky if they get 40, 50 percent of the guys who are actually there. They have soldiers and policemen who are coming in collecting their pay checks and not showing up. The special inspector general of Iraq says there is no mechanism in place, and hasn't been for three years, to determine what forces show up, what don't, what the levels of attrition are, who is actually operationally capable. So the numbers really are a lie, and we want the truth, and your soldiers on the ground want the truth out there.

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