Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Questions Emerge, and Remain Unexplored, about Farris Hassan’s Excellent Iraqi Adventure

"Sometimes a story just doesn’t seem to be “all there.” Cinnamon Stillwell suspected as much in a NewsBusters item on January 10:
Call me overly suspicious, but the story of 16-year-old Farris Hassan traveling to Iraq on a whim strikes me as unbelievable.
Hassan’s interview with Rita Cosby of MSNBC, a Florida newspaper columnist’s skepticism, and a January 18 posting by the Northeast Intelligence Network (NIN), which describes itself as “a small contingent of experienced investigators ….. founded by veteran private investigator Douglas J. Hagmann,” all appear to confirm Stillwell’s suspicions. What is known of Farris Hassan’s saga at this point should also, one would think, raise some red flags with Homeland Security.

First, the NIN entry:
Farris HASSAN, the 16-year-old Pine Crest student from Fort Lauderdale who left he comforts of his $4 million family home on December 11 for Iraq, claimed that he made the trip to put is lessons of his “immersion journalism” class into practice, and selected Iraq out of humanitarian concerns or the Iraqi people.

….. With all of the reporters covering the story, however, it appears that no one did any research into the background of the Hassan family, or made any attempts to verify the young man’s story. If they had, they might have been compelled to ask some very basic – but extremely important questions.

Even the most basic research found that Farris Hassan was NOT enrolled in any journalism class at Pine Crest, which should automatically cast doubt on the true nature of his journey. ….. Also, the school confirmed that the boy’s father, Dr. Redha Hassan not only knew of his son’s intended travels, but authorized his absence, which is inconsistent with his initial public statements.

Further, investigation found a number of other inconsistencies in the public statements made by Dr. Redha Hassan. Although it was initially reported that neither parent knew of the young boy’s intended travels, it was ultimately revealed that Dr. Hassan actually assisted his son. He admitted that he arranged for his son’s flight into Baghdad through his political connections, even though he knew the grave risks to “foreigners” wandering the streets of Baghdad. [According to a January 2, 2005 CNN news story, Hassan’s father said that he had helped his son get a visa into Iraq from Beirut. The elder Hassan said he was leaving Iraq himself when the teen called, unable to get into the country from Kuwait. He told him to go to Lebanon and said he spoke with him almost daily].

Perhaps most importantly, research and investigation into Dr. Redha Hassan found that he was arrested by the FBI in 1985 for forging 2000 Iraqi passports and military I.D. cards and seeking to forge 2,000 more. Dr. Hassan asked his next-door-neighbor and print store owner Joel Feinstein to make the passports and IDs. According to Feinstein, Dr. Hassan claimed the documents were for his family in Iraq. Feinstein reported the request to the FBI, and became an operational asset for the federal government, leading to Hassan’s arrest. Also arrested were two of Farris’s uncles and a “pro-Khomeini” activist identified as Salah Jawad Shubber. Interestingly, Dr. Hassan, who also went by the name Redha K. Alsawaf, was also the President of the now defunct Florida non-profit organization World Orphanage & Refugee Relief Foundation at the time of his arrest. Authorities dropped the charges against Hassan, and Shubber ultimately pled guilty to conspiracy charges.

Farris Hassan’s initial stop was Amsterdam, Netherlands, where he claims that he bought a ticket on KLM Airlines. From Amsterdam, Hassan headed to Kuwait City, where he alleges that he tried to cross the Kuwait-Iraq border twice by taxi, but was turned away due to Iraqi elections. At that point, it appears that Hassan sought assistance from his father, who told Farris to travel to Beirut and stay with family friends. Obligingly, Farris spent ten days in Beirut, and while there, met with a media relations officer of the terrorist group Hezbollah at their Central Press Office. This meeting was arranged through the assistance of his hosts – the family’s friends.

Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim organization based in Lebanon and tied to Iran. They have a significant presence in Iraq, and an army that is resolved to drive the Americans out of Iraq. Given the family history, the inconsistencies and the public contradictions, could it be that Hassan was going to Iraq to join Hezbollah to fight against the “American occupation?” Perhaps those are the questions that need to be asked.

Some US troops question Woodruff coverage

"WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The American media stood up and took notice when an improvised explosive device grievously injured an ABC News crew Sunday.

In Iraq, and throughout the military, there is sympathy and concern for anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt, but there is also this question:

"Why do you think this is such a huge story?" wrote an officer stationed in Baqubah, Iraq, Monday via e-mail. "It's a bit stunning to us over here how absolutely dominant the story is on every network and front page. I mean, you'd think we lost the entire 1st Marine Division or something.

"There's a lot of grumbling from guys at all ranks about it. That's a really impolite and impolitic thing to say ... but it's what you would hear over here." "
You'll notice the coverage it's received here. and for exactly that reason. Why should the VIP get all the attention. People are getting blowed up every day, yet pictures of their caskets are illegal.

Woman confirmed to have bird flu H5N1 virus in Suleimani

"Suleimani (TheKurdistani.com) – The diagnosis of Sabiha Ali, a Kurdish woman in the city of Suleimani, confirmed that she is suffering from the lethal H5N1 bird flu virus.

According to TheKurdistani.com reporter in the city of Suleimani, the woman is being treated with the Tamiflu drug, a medicine used to fight the disease.

So far two people have died of H5N1 bird flu virus in the province of Suleimani in Southern Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan). 12 other patients have been diagnosed with the H5N1 lethal bird flu virus.

Despite the fact that officials of the Health Ministry in Kurdistan have killed thousands of birds in the villages and smaller towns, many people refuse to surrender their poultries

So far two people have died from the H5N1 virus in Southern Kurdistan

The WHO said Iraq was the seventh country to report human H5N1 infection in the current outbreak. The first human case occurred in Vietnam in December 2003."
The Kurdistani
Top Ten things Bush won't Tell you About the State of the Nation

I used to look forward to the State of the Union address, Maybe this time I will just watch it with the volume muted


"IRAN UPDATE....China and Russia have agreed to report Iran to the UN Security Council following resumption of their uranium enrichment work. Of course, neither China nor Russia has indicated that their opposition to sanctions has changed, so it's not clear how meaningful this is. Not to mention that sanctions have a pretty lousy history of working anyway. Still, I suppose it's a step in the right direction.

The BBC has a roundup of Iranian blogger reaction, including this one from a couple of weeks ago: "They want to deprive Iran of the right to play in the World Cup on the pretext that Iran is building a nuclear weapon." Maybe this guy is onto something...."
Washington Monthly

12 people are being treated for possible bird flu in Kurdistan

"Suleimani (Reuters) By Twana Osman - Officials in northern Iraq said on Tuesday they were treating 12 patients suspected of having bird flu as a World Health Organisation (WHO) team prepared to travel to the area to give urgent assistance.

Iraq's health minister said on Monday the country feared it had its first human bird flu victim after preliminary test results showed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who died two weeks ago had the H5N1 virus.

WHO said it was urgently seeking further tests at a British laboratory to confirm the diagnosis and was dispatching a team of experts to help health officials in Iraq's largely autonomous northern region of Kurdistan."
The Kurdistani

Monday, January 30, 2006

Protests Over Muhammad Cartoon Grow

"BEIRUT, Lebanon - The controversy over Danish caricatures of Prophet Muhammad escalated Monday as gunmen seized an EU office in Gaza and Muslims appealed for a trade boycott of Danish products. Denmark called for its citizens in the Middle East to exercise vigilance.

Denmark-based Arla Foods, which has been the target of a widespread boycott in the Middle East, reported that two of its employees in Saudi Arabia were beaten by angry customers. Aid groups, meanwhile, pulled workers out of Gaza, citing the threat of hostilities."
Finally they are burning someone else's flag. Quick get me a subscription to those Danish newspapers that carried the cartoon, Fuck that get me ten subscriptions.

TRP Post on this issue here, here, and here and places the current security lever at:

Shit I almost missed this, and this which was my favorite because of this image

Mon Jan 30 2006 21:56:52 ET

CNN's top war correspondent Christiane Amanpour now says the Iraq war has been a disaster and has created a "black hole."

Amanpour made the comments Monday evening on the all-news network.

"The Iraq war has been a disaster. It's a spiraling security disaster," Amanpour explains to Larry King. "It just gets worse and worse."


Returning to the World....of Color

"...The thing which most caught my ear was the insistence that we "warriors", whether cook or trigger puller, share our stories with each other as often as possible. Prefaced with a brief synopsis of the tale of Ulysses, the palliative value of storytelling could not, according to the padre, be stressed enough. I realized there and then how blessed I am by my mission as a professional storyteller of sorts. People, including myself, often wonder how is it I can go into combat with the frequency I do and not be a raving nut case. ( I recognize that there are a couple exes, marital and otherwise, who might want to weigh in and have their say at this point.) Today I realized it's in large part because I get to tell my story, and knowing that you good folks are out there listening, to quote Robert Frost, has made all the difference. Thanks."
Fire and Ice
Your welcome.

Iraq - The Failure of the Press

"Opinion about Iraq splits along political lines. Republicans maintain that the going is tough but we are making real progress. Most Democrats feel that we are wading deeper into quicksand. The public understandably wants an objective source of information about Iraq. That should be the American press, but it isn’t."
Well according to this reading the paper would not have made that much a difference. Keep the x-box, at least their entertained.

US Army forces 50,000 soldiers into extended duty

"WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Army has forced about 50,000 soldiers to continue serving after their voluntary stints ended under a policy called "stop-loss," but while some dispute its fairness, court challenges have fallen flat.

The policy applies to soldiers in units due to deploy for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Army said stop-loss is vital to maintain units that are cohesive and ready to fight. But some experts said it shows how badly the Army is stretched and could further complicate efforts to attract new recruits."
Can you say, "backdoor draft" it's not a volunteer force any more.
The fine print gets you every time. Amazingly these same people vote republican because of their "values" and because they support the troops.... I think we should take away their x-box, and make them read the paper.

Critics Say Detaining Suspected Terrorists' Wives May Backfire

"Jan. 29, 2006— Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, there have been questions about U.S. troops' sensitivities to Islamic culture — especially when dealing with women. Now there are new questions about a tactic the military calls leveraging.

For example, marines found weapons and explosives in a woman's house and wanted her to lead them to her husband. The military says this sort of intimidation is a necessary tool.'
The money quote
"Karpinski, who was demoted after the Abu Ghraib incident, said she raised objections to leveraging with several of her commanders.

"It was one of the many issues that we raised — that I raised — with the head of the coalition task force, Gen. Sanchez," she said. "
We now know that this policy came right from the top.

The Nutcases Were Busy Yesterday

"I can't bring myself to call the idiots, who caused the injury of ABC News staffers Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt and bombed the churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk, anything other than nutcases.

Bob Woodruff traveled to Iraq to cover the current situation. He took the further step that most hotel-journalists are too afraid to take. He decided to walk into the streets and talk to the Iraqi people. He wanted to cover the story of ordinary Iraqi citizens. What award did these nutcases give him? He and Vogt almost got killed by an roadside bomb explosion while traveling with an Iraqi and U.S. convoy near Taji.

The nutcases' busy day didn't end there. They decided to target a few churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk as well as the Apostolic Nuncio mission (The Vatican Embassy) to prove their craziness. "
Iraqi in America

The Breakthrough!

"My “comrades in arms” and I have just concluded our first conference for the Syrian opposition groups in the US. The conference was organized by the Syrian National Council in the US, in cooperation with the Ahrar Movement and the Syrian National Council in Canada. It featured an amazing assortment of representatives of political currents and views, including representatives of the Syrian internal opposition groups, who have taken a tremendous risk by accepting to take part in such an event.

The last day, Sunday, also featured a a most wonderful and inspiring phone conference with the recently freed Damascus Spring dissidents: Riad Seif, Walid al Bunni, Fawaz Tillo and Habeeb Issa, as well as the sublime spark behind the Atassy Forum Mrs. Suheir Atassy."
To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure what this is all about, but it looks like the Syrian opposition is getting better organized. if that's the cast, them it is good news.

Security Council to Review Iran Nuke Case

"LONDON (AP) - The United States and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council agreed Tuesday that Iran should be hauled before that powerful body over its disputed nuclear program.

China and Russia, longtime allies and trading partners of Iran, signed on to a statement that calls on the U.N. nuclear watchdog to transfer the Iran dossier to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions or take other harsh action.

Foreign ministers from those nations, plus the United States, Britain and France, also said the Security Council should wait until March to take up the Iran case, after a formal report on Tehran's activities from the watchdog agency."
My first question is what did we trade for this cooperation?

Italy paid ransom for hostages in Iraq: police

"ROME, JANUARY 30: Italy paid millions of dollars in ransom for the release of Italian hostages in Iraq over an 11-month period beginning in April 2004, a media report today said quoting a Carabinieri inquiry as saying.

The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has consistently denied reports it secretly negotiated payments with kidnappers of Italian nationals in defiance of its us and British allies in Iraq.

According to the report published in Left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, the money was handed over to Abdel Salam al Kubaissi, a member of the Ulema Council of religious leaders who acted as the principal mediator in their release. It added that al Kubaissi was also involved in the kidnappings of four Italian bodyguards and the subsequent abductions of two Italian aid workers, Italian journalists Enzo Baldoni and Giuliana Sgrena and British national Margaret Hassan. "
The Indian Express
Damn fools! I hope they are happy with themselves, they have financed the murder of thousand of Iraqis. They should be proud, as that's quite and achievement. Europe is in my opinion still consumed by it's racist past. this can be seen in it's attitude towards Iraq and a place closer to my heart Cuba. They seem to take enjoyment from watching others suffer. It's going to catch up to them one day...

Operations and Negotiations in Iraq

"The ‘maintenance’ phase of the Anbar Campaign proceeds as Iraqi Army units continue to take greater responsibility for security operations in Anbar province. Iraqi units are increasingly conducting independent operations in the region after joint Coalition and Iraqi operations over the fall placed a permanent presence in the towns and cities along the Western Euphrates River Valley. Operation Moonlight on the Syrian border was one such example. Operation Final Strike is the latest.

Final Strike is an independent counterinsurgency operation conducted by two battalions (about 1,000 troops) of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division in the eastern Jazerra desert region which lies northwest of Habbaniyah, an area which has been classified as a “known insurgent staging area for attacks against Iraqi citizens, Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces.”"

Al-Qaeda in Lebanon

'Hazim Al-Amin does some fine reporting on Al-Qaeda’s operations (specifically the Zarqawi franchise) in Lebanon through two pieces published in Al-Hayat Newspaper on January 26 and 27. Although I believe, as Amin himself suggests towards the very end, that he has only managed to scratch the surface, I was fascinated by the new information he brings to light on “Abu Muhammad Al-Lubnani,” who became one of Zarqawi’s chief aides in Iraq and was subsequently killed in late summer 2005.

What caught my interest was that Al-Lubnani, whose real name is Mustafa Ramadhan, is actually an ethnic Kurd from Beirut, with a past as a drunkard and hoodlum. He had married a lady from the conservative Sunni enclave of Mejdel ‘Anjar in Lebanon’s far north in the late 1980s, and immigrated to Denmark. Lubnani returned three years ago in the garb of a zealous Salafist, and advocated for jihad, according to Amin’s reporting. He managed to win over some recruits in Mejdel Anjar, and went off to Iraq with his 16 year-old son, Muhammad, who was killed shortly before his father expired."
Talisman Gate


"MORE MILITARY WOES....The LA Times has yet another report indicating that the military is under considerable stress from the Iraq war. Junior officers are leaving the Army in record numbers, which means the only way to fill the more senior ranks is to promote practically everyone who's eligible:"
Washington Monthly

Saddam’s Trial

'Saddam’s trial is to hold its eighth session on Sunday 29 January. A new chief judge has been appointed after the resignation of the former (Rizgar Mohamed Ameen). Most of the Iraqis considered Mr. Ameen a weak judge through his way in managing the previous sessions.

The majority of Iraqis, including me, have never seen similar trials before. The most famous trial in Iraq is (The Court of People). It is publicly known as (Court of Mahdawee) after the name of Colonel Mahdawee head of the court. This court had been held between the years (1958-63) to try senior officials of the monarchical regime ruled Iraq before 1958. Through what I heard about (Mahdawee Court) and reading 22 volumes telling the events of that court, I can tell that it was some kind of a circus. I think it was a tool to absorb the public anger to protect the accused from being slaughtered by the mob."
Ibn Alrafidain

Report Says 2006 Critical Year for Iraq

"WASHINGTON (AP) - It will take far more U.S. support before the Iraqi government can take control over billions of dollars in reconstruction projects, including problem-plagued oil and electricity improvements, according to a government report released Monday.

The report, prepared by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, warns that 2006 will be a critical year of transition in Iraq. And it questions whether the Iraqi government has the needed resources to rebuild and protect the infrastructure, develop the country's major cities and support private sector projects.

"The need for more funding has reached a critical point; there is a compelling basis to increase support for sustainability," Special Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr., said in the report.

The report - the eighth quarterly assessment done by Bowen - makes no recommendations on how much money is needed. But recent audits, summarized in this report, have said that billions of dollars in projects to improve water, sewer and electrical systems in Iraq could not be completed because the money was diverted to security and other higher priorities."
I don't know if it's even possible, but why don't congress open offices in Baghdad to oversee the reconstruction, just giving more money to the administration don't seem like the solution.

Iraq on high alert before festival

"Thousands of security personnel were being deployed in southern Iraq ahead of the Shi'ite festival of Ashura as rebels carried out attacks on local and foreign forces in the area.

At least 8,000 police and military personnel are to stand guard in the holy city of Karbala during the Ashura festival starting on Wednesday, according to city governor Ali al-Khalil.

The ceremony has often been a target of Sunni insurgents as tens of thousands of faithful Shi'ites visit the mausoleums of their imams.

In 2004, 170 pilgrims died in attacks during the ceremonies around mausoleums in Karbala and Baghdad, while last year 44 people were killed and 52 wounded when a man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up in Karbala next to a crowd of pilgrims at the shrine of Imam Hussein."
The Age
Let's hope these people can have their damn parade this year without any violence. It's a sad state when people cant go to a parade without getting killed...is it too much to ask?

U.S. seeking to woo Sunnis from Iraqi terror groups

"WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has begun a concerted effort in Iraq to "peel away" certain Sunni insurgents from foreign terrorist cells, even referring to the targeted groups as "political resistance" that might be persuaded to join the permanent government.

The Pentagon strategy centers on frequent behind-the-scenes talks among U.S. military and embassy personnel, elected and appointed Iraq leaders, and tribal chiefs with influence over insurgents.

A senior defense official described the process as twofold -- demonstrating to Sunni Muslim fighters that no hope of military victory exists and encouraging overtures from pro-U.S. Iraqis to Sunnis to join the political process.

"We are trying to peel off the insurgency from the foreign fighters" led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab Zarqawi, the senior defense official said. "A counterinsurgency policy has to have a political process it can channel the insurgents into. ... This is the counterinsurgency campaign that is going on.""
World Peace Herald
Well if Bush can pull this one off, I'll forgive him "some" of his past transgressions.

I could have told you that

You see I knew it all along your all a bunch of white Christian bigoted homophobes, and now there is proof. And I have to include my own minority because they exhibit this same behavior, not withstanding the fact that they are in fact a brown minority.

Officials Confirm Bird Flu Death of Iraqi

"Iraqi and U.N. health officials said Monday a 15-year-old girl who died this month was a victim of the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, the first confirmed case of the disease in the Middle East.

Tests were under way to determine if the girl's uncle, who lived in the same house, also died of the virus. He died 10 days later after suffering the same symptoms, officials said.

Iraqi health authorities began killing domestic birds in northern Iraq, which borders Turkey, where at least 21 cases of the deadly virus have been detected. Turkey and Iraq also lie on a migratory path for numerous species of birds."
Damn, could Iraqi's get a break, just a little one. All I can say to m Iraqi friends is quit wasting time and come together as a country, before the ethnic killings and decease kill all of you.

Deadly Rift Grows Among Insurgents

"RAMADI, Iraq — Deadly fighting has erupted within Iraq's insurgency as home-grown guerrilla groups, increasingly resentful of foreign-led extremists, try to assert control over the fragmented anti-American campaign, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

Yet there is no evidence that the split here in the Sunni Arab heartland has weakened the uprising, diminished Iraqis' sense of insecurity, or brought any relief to U.S. forces, the officials say.

Tit-for-tat killings among locals and followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi have been reported across western Iraq in recent months, and some U.S. officials see the strife as a positive sign. They have been working to drive a wedge between Zarqawi's foreign Arab volunteers and Iraqi-led militant groups, and to bring Sunnis who have backed the uprising into Iraq's political process.

"There's an opportunity to divide the … insurgency, and we're starting to see breaks in that now," said Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mowaffak Rubaie, the Iraqi government's national security advisor, said a growing body of intelligence indicated that Iraqi-led groups were turning against Zarqawi's faction, Al Qaeda in Iraq, over a divergence of basic aims.

He believes the shift reflects Iraqis' growing resentment of a foreign-led force whose fundamentalist religious goals and calls for sectarian war against Iraq's Shiite majority run counter to Iraqi nationalist traditions.

But U.S. military officials concede that the guerrillas' ability to strike anywhere at any time is largely undiminished. They say the insurgency remains a stubborn, elusive and deadly collection of fighting groups that share the aim of ousting American forces.

Their attacks across Iraq averaged 75 per day in December, up from 52 a year earlier, driving the country's sectarian violence and contributing to a decline in its oil production. U.S. troops died at the same rate last year as in 2004, and most estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties rose.

Reports of clashes among the anti-American fighters began surfacing several months ago.

One outbreak of violence came in mid-January after U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George W. Casey, the top military commander in Iraq, visited this provincial capital to solidify a pact with tribal sheiks. Under the deal, young men from their tribes had been signing up for a municipal police force to replace the one the insurgents had destroyed.

A day after the meeting, one of the sheiks, Nasr Abdul Kareem, a 49-year-old physics professor thought to be an insurgent strategist, was shot dead in an ambush after dropping his sons off at school. Two other sheiks cooperating with U.S. forces here in Al Anbar province were slain the same week.

Outraged by the slayings, insurgents from their tribes have retaliated by killing at least a dozen Zarqawi followers, an Iraqi intelligence official said.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said six "major leaders" of Zarqawi's network had been killed since September by Iraq-led insurgent groups — "people saying, 'Get outta here, we've had enough!' "

"The local insurgents have become part of the solution," Lynch said."
Another story on the on-again, off-again, rift in the insurgency. I think it's becoming evident that something is going on, but what? It could be a turf war, or maybe the groups that have joined the government want to purge the foreigners from their ranks, or maybe the foreign element has grown stronger than the home grown. That might have happened because the foreign groups seem to target civilians, while they say that the hometown boys target our troops, a deadly affair indeed. So what exactly is going on is at this point anyone's guess. I will reserve judgment till I see something substantial on the ground.

Is there a place for democracy in the Middle East?

"Is it possible for democracy to succeed here? And is the struggle to change our backward present and catch up with the modern world a losing one? Are we really ready to change ourselves and replace the old ways of violence and hatred with tolerance and dialogue for a better future? And do we deserve help from the world in our battle?.....

These questions and others are insistently looking for answers especially after seeing the results of the latest elections in more than one spot in the region; these results shown that Islamists have the advantage and it shown the humble achievements of the secular/liberals.

Through this post I’d like to summarize some of the factors that contributed to this situation as well as my expectations for the future as an ordinary middle astern citizen who belongs to the reform camp and tries to figure out what’s going on around him."

See you in Hell Douglas Barber

"Raise a glass to Douglas Barber, he finally lost his battle almost two years after his tour in the kitty litter. The cops even got dash cam of him chewing on a shot gun. Guess Alabama’s finest didn’t comply with suicide by cop. Doug did an about face with a snap and went out in style.

Should we bother keeping the score after regulation? Is that one up for the insurgents or one for the US? It feels like I never picked a side and everyone is against me. Douglas must have figured shit was stacked against him. You can’t fend off Ali Baba awake and asleep for the rest of your life.

Sounds to me that Barber got the shaft on the way out the door. Went a little batty after getting his boots on the ground here in the real world. The board diagnosed him with Personality Disorder instead of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You see if they write in Personality Disorder, Adjustment, or Anxiety Disorder, they claim that your mental illness was a condition you had previous to going to war. Saves some tax payer money and the government isn’t liable. Despite the fact that, the twenty odd years you lived before service you were fine, when you entered into the service and went to your medical/psychological physical at MEPS you were a GO, and even the days right prior to going to war you checked out okay when you did a pre-deployment evaluation. But apparently, you are so fucking nuts and always have been that you have some severe mental illness making you unfit for most civilian deployment...
...The Heretic

Douglas Barbers suicide note

Douglas Barber's Blog "Soldier For Truth"
Fight to Survive

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Iraq's "so-called patriotic resistance"

"Newsweek magazine has just run an article shedding light on what it says are high level talks between US officials (likely military) and senior figures in the Iraqi resistance.

Since August, I have been highlighting the shift in rhetoric and dynamic in how the US refers to the Iraqi resistance.

The Newsweek article is very telling.

For example, "The groups include Baathist cells and religious Islamic factions, as well as former Special Republican Guards and intelligence agents, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the talks."

This marks the first time US officials admit that Special Republican Guards are part of the Iraqi resistance. This was known to most of us and indeed declared at a time when the media, and the blind pro-war supporters, howled the word insurgent, insurgent, insurgent.

"We want things from the U.S. side, stopping misconduct by U.S. forces, preventing Iranian intervention," said one prominent insurgent leader from a group called the Army of the Mujahedin ... "

So, from this statement we can conclude that the factor unifying both US forces and Iraqi resistance is Iranian interventionism in Iraq. Particularly in the highest echelon's of the inadequately named "Iraqi government"."
Truth About Iraqis


"Excellent news came out of Zaxo, liberated Kurdistan, on Friday, 27 January. But first, let's take a little stroll down memory lane to remember how this excellent news came to pass.

Turkish police officer, Hakan Açil, was captured by Kurdish People's Defence Force (HPG) gerîlas on 9 October, 2005, as he and his companions were on their way to Cizre. By his own account, in an interview made during his captivity, he was treated well by the big, bad Kurdish gerîlas. It must have been a bit of a shock to him, since he initially expected to be murdered in cold blood by HPG. He indicated that he wished for the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) to secure his release, just as a similar human rights delegation had secured the release of a Turkish soldier, Coskun Kirandi, captured by HPG gerîlas in July, 2005."

Anonymous Voices Speak The Truth

"I ran across an interesting article in El Nuevo Herald's Sunday edition regarding anonymous e-mails sent by Cubans to journalist Pablo Alfonso. The accounts and revelations of the messengers aren't surprising to those of us that know the reality of life in Cuba, but they are worth repeating for all to see.

Allow me to daydream a little on this Sunday afternoon...

Imagine if the ticker at the U.S. Interests Section could be used to display messages from frustrated Cubans. They could walk up to the Interests Section, leave their message, and it would be displayed on the ticker.

If this were to ever become a reality, some of what would be displayed would likely look a lot like what Alfonso writes in his article, which I have translated as closely as possible and appears below (emphasis is mine).

This article is proof that Cubans know what's going on in their ruined country, embargo or no embargo, sanctions or no sanctions. The article is written in a bit of a disjointed style that may be hard to grasp at first, but the general idea comes across nevertheless."
Babalu Blog

a Webcam would be nice!

"It's amazing that the USIS hasn't set up a webcam to monitor what happens across the street from them, it would be really interesting to have that vantage point, from where the ticker is located.
Imagine a webcam showhing the Habaneros looking up to the ticker!
I hope they are reading this blog and they decide to use the knowledge of the site of these two Habaneros!"
What a great idea! If it ever were to happen I would put up a permanent on my sidebar. As a matter of fact a few webcams in Iraq would be nice too. I wonder who I could nag to make it so.

The new chief judge in the trial of Saddam and his gang

"The 8th session of the judgment of Saddam and his gang about the genocide crimes of Dijel has just started an hour ago.

The new chief judge Mr Raof Rashied Abdulrahman (61 years) opened the session in a much better way than the resigned judge (Mr R M Amien). He has much more concentration and using a much better judgment and interrogations of the witnesses and the accused to clarify the evidence in a more concentrated and better way."

The library project (All the information in one post)

"How to help:

Donate money by clicking on the button in the sidebar.
Buy books from the wishlist.
Send books you have to the address at the end of this post.
Pay for a supscription to a magazine for the university here: (Note to self: Add link later).
Call for different universities to hold drives in their schools at the end of the year to collect books and send them here.
Suggest something?

A Star from Mosul

Hamas Facing Tests at Home and Abroad

'JERUSALEM (AP) - Isolated by world criticism and strapped for cash, the Islamic militant group Hamas faces an uphill struggle to even begin cleaning up Palestinian government as it has promised to do.

Internally, the old Fatah rulers vanquished by Hamas in last week's parliamentary election are refusing to cooperate with the new guard, almost openly hoping for their failure.

International donors, who have annually made up a huge shortfall in the perpetually strapped Palestinian Authority, are balking at funding a Hamas regime.

Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Sunday that Israel will stop the monthly transfer of tens of millions of dollars in taxes and customs money it collects for the Palestinians to a Palestinian Authority headed by Hamas.

Fatah leaders are expressing defiance instead of shock over their loss, after winning just 45 seats in the 132-seat parliament, while Hamas took 74. The vote ended four decades of Fatah control over Palestinian politics.

"We will not allow ... anyone to take part in a government with Hamas," said Sufian Abu Zaydeh, an outgoing Fatah Cabinet minister. He made it clear in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV that Fatah is hoping Hamas falls flat in its mission of governing in its first-ever try."
It would be funny if Hammas is able to operate the Palestine Authority on a shoestring and were to discover that what was keeping their people down was not all the Zionist entity after all, but was in fact the deep level of corruption in the Authority that kept them poor.

IRAQ: After years of discord, Najaf enjoys record development

"NAJAF, 29 January (IRIN) - After years of suppression under the regime of Saddam Hussein and fighting between local militias and occupation forces since 2003, the city of Najaf has finally begun to enjoy the fruits of development.

One of the holiest sites in the world for Shi'ite Muslims, Najaf was substantially destroyed during fighting between US forces and the Sadr militia in August 2004. Today, however, the city shows signs of reconstruction and development as pilgrims begin returning en masse to the tombs of revered Shi'ite holy men.

According to some officials, Najaf is now considered one of the safest places in Iraq, despite ongoing violence elsewhere.

"A partnership between residents and the government has brought development and made Najaf the most secure city countrywide," said Kamal Abbas, a senior official at the interior ministry."

Update 9: Sunni Leader: Iraq Descending Into Turmoil

"Iraq's top Sunni Arab political leader accused Shiite-dominated security forces Sunday of pursuing a strategy of sectarian "cleansing" in Baghdad and said he opposed giving key Cabinet posts to Shiites - a stance likely to further inflame tensions.

Iraq's ceaseless violence killed at least 20 people, including 13 Iraqi policemen and soldiers. Three Iraqis were killed in a spate of church bombings bearing the hallmarks of Sunni insurgent attacks.

Five coordinated car bombings targeted the Vatican mission and at least two churches in Baghdad and two churches in the northern city of Kirkuk within about 20 minutes.

ABC News co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were seriously injured Sunday in an attack and roadside bomb blast that targeted their joint U.S.-Iraqi military convoy near Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad, ABC News President David Westin said."

Budget to Call for Cuts In Military Reserves

"President Bush will use his new budget to propose cutting the size of the Army Reserve to its lowest level in three decades and stripping as much as $4 billion from two fighter aircraft programs.

The proposals, likely to face opposition on Capitol Hill, come as the Defense Department struggles to trim personnel costs and other expenses to pay for the war in Iraq and a host of other pricey aircraft and high-tech programs. Bush will send his 2007 budget to Congress on Feb. 6.

The proposed Army Reserve cut is part of a broader plan to achieve a new balance of troop strength and combat power among the active Army, the National Guard and reserves to fight the global war on terrorism and to defend the homeland.

The Army sent a letter to members of Congress on Thursday outlining the plan. A copy was provided to the Associated Press.

Under the plan, the authorized troop strength of the Army Reserve would drop from 205,000 -- the current number of slots it is allowed -- to 188,000, the actual number of soldiers it had at the end of 2005.

Because of recruiting and other problems, the Army Reserve has been unable to fill its ranks to its authorized level.

Army leaders have said they are taking a similar approach to shrinking the National Guard. They are proposing to cut that force from its authorized level of 350,000 soldiers to 333,000, the actual number now on the rolls.

Some in Congress have vowed to fight the National Guard cuts. Its soldiers and resources are controlled by state governors unless Guard units are mobilized by the president for federal duty, as Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."
Bush, It's what's for dinner

Al salam alykum

"Good morning every body,
Finally I finished my Mid-year Examinations. Yesterday I took my last exam, which was biology. I didn't get well on it as I wished but Alhamdulilah.

For about 12 days, I didn't get enough sleep nor enough rest. I was weak mentality and psychology.
From the first days of my examinations the generator was out of use. So imagine!

How could I study without light?"
hnk's blog

Islamicists MPs refuse to sit next to women in Kurdistan parliament

"Stockholm(TheKurdistani.com) by Nazdar Mirani– Two Kurdish Islamicist members of the Kurdistani parliament refused to sit next to a Kurdish female MP during the announcement of the unification of the Kurdistan governments on 21st of January 2006.

According to the Kurdish internet news website, Dengekan.com, the unnamed Islamicist members of the Kurdistan parliament argued with a female Kurdish MP that according to the Islamic codes, men are not allowed to sit next to women apart from their wives and sisters. "
The Kurdistani

U.S. Army detained suspects' daughters, wives as leverage

"BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. Army has been detaining Iraqi women to help track down husbands or fathers who are suspected terrorists, according to documents released Friday and an interview with a female detainee who was released Thursday after four months in prison.

A series of e-mails written by U.S. soldiers and an internal Army memo, all released Friday in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, describe two cases of women who were imprisoned because American officials wanted information about their husbands.

The Iraqi woman said Friday that she and eight other female detainees in her cell had talked often among themselves. She discovered that all were being held because U.S. officials had suspected their male relatives of having ties to terrorism. In some cases, men in their families were killed during U.S. raids, the woman alleged.

The woman, whose voice trembled as she told her story, said she did not want to be named because she feared that she or a member of her family would be arrested...

...The U.S. detention of female prisoners is a sensitive issue for the Iraqi populace, which considers the mistreatment of a woman a dishonor to her family. Iraqis find it particularly offensive that foreign male officers are holding female prisoners, as many Iraqis fear that U.S. soldiers will treat them disrespectfully...

...In an e-mail dated June 17, 2004, a U.S. soldier wrote: "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband — have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?"

A soldier wrote two days later that he was getting more information from "these gals" that could "result in getting husband.""

Palace Revolt

"Feb. 6, 2006 issue - James Comey, a lanky, 6-foot-8 former prosecutor who looks a little like Jimmy Stewart, resigned as deputy attorney general in the summer of 2005. The press and public hardly noticed. Comey's farewell speech, delivered in the Great Hall of the Justice Department, contained all the predictable, if heartfelt, appreciations. But mixed in among the platitudes was an unusual passage. Comey thanked "people who came to my office, or my home, or called my cell phone late at night, to quietly tell me when I was about to make a mistake; they were the people committed to getting it right—and to doing the right thing—whatever the price. These people," said Comey, "know who they are. Some of them did pay a price for their commitment to right, but they wouldn't have it any other way.""
Hat tip: Washington Monthly
I think I already gave Ashcroft credit once, no need to repeat it here.

"Juba" = "Baghdad Sniper"

"On Saturday, I took the day off and spent it at home resting, studying for the TOEFL and the GRE and hanging out with my friends whose main subject at that day was the Baghdad Sniper.
Baghdad Sniper is a man who shoots US soldiers with his silent guns. He fires once and vanishes just like ghosts. There is never a follow-up shot, never a chance for US forces to identify him. It’s a matter of seconds. You’ll never hear it.

In my neighborhood, a new phenomenon is incredibly increasing. CDs with videos of this ghost shooting at the US soldiers in Baghdad are being sold and exchanged by young men and teenagers who are incredibly interested in that mysterious sniper. As people say, he uses silent guns in his shooting and he never missed a target....

...Click here and download 'juba_sniper_video.wmv' (Part of entire video). This is the Ogrish link to the video of some of the attacks the sniper did against the US soldiers.

This video shows the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience."
Treasure of Baghdad

False Foreign Fighter Report

"A report on massive numbers of al-Qaeda rounded in the Qaim region up is very likely incorrect
By Bill Roggio
Great strides have been made to turn the native elements of the Iraqi insurgency against the al-Qaeda wing of the insurgency. Insurgent groups in Anbar province and the city of Samarra have declared war against al-Qaeda. But news the Karabilah tribe is summarly rounding up al-Qaeda without a fight should be viewed with skeptitism.

Omar at Iraq The Model translates and reprints a spectacular claim by Arabic newspaper Dar al-Hayat which purports a massive operation to purge the al-Qaim region by local tribal groups is currently underway. According to Sheikh Usama Jad’aan, the leader of Karabila tribes in Qaim, “the operation will continue to eliminate terror elements according to a quality plan… 270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested, in addition to some Iraqis who were providing them shelter… the operation is conducted in coordination between the tribes and the minister of defense Sa’doun al-Dulaimi and since we arrested hundreds of terrorists, I don’t expect the operation to take a lot of time”.

While the news would be a positive development, it appears this story has little basis in fact."
Well I may have been right all along, who knows. I think the reasons given here that this is propaganda to try to get in good with the new government is as good an explanation as any I have heard. Even sam can be wrong.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Iraqis Leaving Religiously Mixed Areas

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - For months, the young Shiite couple could not decide whether to move from Dora, a mostly Sunni Arab neighborhood and one of Baghdad's most dangerous. After death threats, the murder of a neighbor and the birth of their first child, they decided it was time to go.

High rents kept Rana Ali and her husband, Hussein Youssef, from finding a new home in one of the capital's safest areas, where Shiites are dominant, and they could not afford refuge in Iraq's overwhelmingly Shiite south.

Instead, they settled in nearby Saydiyah, another majority Sunni area only marginally safer but with a larger Shiite population than their old neighborhood.

"It's a little better here," said Rana, a 23-year-old law graduate. "Living in Dora the past year was like being in the middle of a battlefield. But we started a life there and we lost a lot to come here."

The decision by the young couple to move is part of disturbing trend in this polarized society. As sectarian tensions rise and talk of civil war spreads, more Iraqis are moving to areas where their religious group is dominant."

Embedded With U.S. Marines


If the guardrails weren't all smashed, you might believe you were riding down a new highway somewhere in southwest America.

There's smooth asphalt and three lanes neatly separated by lines of white paint cutting through miles of desert on this stretch of road just outside the western city of Ramadi. This part of Highway 10, which cuts across from Amman, Jordan to Baghdad, stood out; I'm accustomed to riding roads marked with craters from powerful bombs that regularly throw blocks of asphalt into the air. I thought of a trip I made to Baqouba last month, where one night I saw a wedding party of singing guests packed in tiny decorated cars swerve around craters along a downtown street.

Roadside bombs are the most common form of insurgent attack in Iraq: According to U.S. military statistics, there were nearly 11,000 roadside bombings here last year, or about 30 per day. Most American casualties come from such attacks.

These bombings, along with the threat of suicide car bombers, have resulted in one unfortunate reality for Iraqi drivers: they must pay attention and suddenly turn off onto roadsides or keep a safe distance every time a U.S. patrol or convoy passes by.

The drivers on this highway were alerted to the convoy I was riding with by a blaring siren that signaled them to pull over.

At one point the gunner's legs dangling from the hatch above tensed up, which I've seen before as soldiers prepare to fire their 50 caliber gun from the top of the Humvee. Fortunately, the suspect car turned away."

Blogger Gains Following With Iraq Reports

"WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) - He didn't have to go, it wasn't his job and nobody paid him to do it. But Michael Yon says he went to Iraq because he wanted to see for himself what was going on.

The 41-year-old former Army Green Beret, self-published author and world traveler didn't know exactly what he was going to do when he got to the war zone last year, nor did he have any particular plans to report what he saw to the world at-large.

But that's what he did.

After getting himself embedded as a freelance journalist with troops last year, he used his Internet blog to report on the car bombs, firefights and dead soldiers. But he also wrote descriptively about acts of compassion and heroism, small triumphs in the country's crawl toward democracy and the gritty inner workings of the military machine.

Yon's dispatches have been extolled by loyal readers as gutsy and honest reporting by a guy who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. He has been interviewed and his blog quoted by major newspapers and TV news networks, and he has drawn comparisons to Ernie Pyle, the renowned World War II correspondent who shared the trenches with fighting soldiers.

Actor Bruce Willis is a fan and has said he wants to make a movie about the exploits of the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment -- aka the "Deuce Four" -- which Yon followed through battles against insurgents in Mosul."
MSN Money
Hey the story actually carries the link!

On the Net:

Michael Yon: Online Magazine: http://michaelyon-online.com

Guess Who Likes the G.I.'s in Iraq (Look in Iran's Halls of Power)

"NOT long after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in 2003, a top aide to L. Paul Bremer III, then the head of the American occupation authority there, excitedly explained that Iraq had just become the front line in Washington's effort to neutralize Iran as a regional force.

If America could promote a moderate, democratic, American-friendly alternate center of Shiite Islam in Iraq, the official said, it could defang one of its most implacable foes in the Middle East.

Iran, in other words, had for decades been both the theological center of Shiite Islam and a regional sponsor of militant anti-American Islamic groups like Hezbollah. But if westward-looking Shiites — secular or religious — came to power in southern Iraq, they could give the lie to arguments that Shiites had to see America as an enemy.

So far, though, Iran's mullahs aren't feeling much pain from the Americans next door. In fact, officials at all levels of government here say they see the American presence as a source of strength for themselves as they face the Bush administration."

US troops in Iraq cut by up to 20 percent: US general

""We have reduced our forces already in Iraq by about 15 or 20 percent over the past couple of months," General John Abizaid, commander of the US Central Command, told Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas.

"I would expect that they will continue to come down, but only based on the degree of stability that is achieved there. You wont see a rapid withdrawal of American forces," he said.

"You will see American forces starting to come down as Iraqi forces start to come up, but if there is a spike in the security situation that would send Iraq in a bad direction, we are also willing to put in additional forces. So, well judge it," he said.

Abizaid said that about 220,000 Iraqis are currently serving either in the police or in the armed forces that have "good capacity to ultimately defend Iraq and work against the insurgents and the terrorists."

He said stability would only return to Iraq with improvements on the political, security and economic levels."

Abusing the Material Witness Statute:

'Since the events of September 11th, the government has repeatedly - and some believe, increasingly - imprisoned a number of persons without filing criminal charges against them. The government has detained these persons as material witnesses, arguing that each person is a flight risk and their testimony is necessary for a grand jury's investigation.

The recent, controversial detention of Mike Hawash - a U.S. citizen and Intel engineer - is a case in point. For over five weeks, beginning in mid-March, the United States detained Hawash as a "material witness" because it purportedly wanted him to testify before a grand jury investigating issues related to terrorism. During this time, it never accused Hawash of having committed any act of terror or any crime, or even of being in any way dangerous or a threat. Nonetheless, Hawash was detained under the most severe of prison conditions.

Hawash never testified before the grand jury. Last week, a day before Hawash was due to be released, the government brought criminal charges against him.

Hawash's case raises some very troubling questions: If the government had a basis for criminally charging Hawash all along, why didn't it offer that as the reason for his detention, rather than invoking the material witness statute? Was the reason for detaining Hawash as a material witness so that the government could use the intimidating confinement to obtain information, while avoiding the basic protections that are given criminal defendants? What motivated the government's conduct?

Many observers have been disturbed by detentions like Hawash's, especially because the government has made mistakes. In at least one case, the government obtained a false confession from a material witness who, the government had to later concede before a federal judge, had no terrorist connections.

Some have even suggested that this tactic is unconstitutional, as a Due Process violation or otherwise. In this column, I will argue that the government's tactics are, indeed, unconstitutional, for they violate the Fourth Amendment."
FindLaw's Writ
Looks like the Iraqi's are not the only ones on the target list.

Google: "material witness"

AP: Documents show U.S. detained wives of Iraqi insurgents as tactic

"Ummm, did anyone really think that wasn't an option on the table?

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

Hell, I think that's an excellent idea. Does anyone think if we could nab Zarqawi or Bin Ladin by picking up their wives we wouldn't do it in a heartbeat? What about all the wives and children these men murder? Does anyone think if we could find the wives of one of Jill Carroll's kidnappers we wouldn't nab her and use her to find her scumbag husband? Or trade her back?

What the hell kind of playground "ethics" do critics of these policies have?

I don't recall any specific instances of the 1-124th picking up someone's wife, though I'm sure we'd consider it in some instances. I do know we've picked up insurgents brothers and sisters as co-conspirators. And this tactic was very effective, and caused several Ali Baba that I know of to surrender without a fight. If we promised to release the sibling in exchange, that's what we did.

In the case of women, we did not generally detain them ourselves, but dropped them off at the home of a tribal sheikh or elder, and he held them until the deal was made....

...UPDATE: To put this in perspective, I would point out that you can hold someone without charges as a material witness, even in the United States.

Why the dolts at CENTCOM PR and JAG couldn't get out in front of this by characterizing these people as material witnesses or the equivalent of unindicted co-conspirators from the start I'll never know."

Army to Investigate Gay Porn Allegations

Updates in the comments
"RALEIGH, N.C. - Army officials are investigating allegations that members of the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division appear on a gay pornography Web site, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Authorities at Fort Bragg have begun an inquiry into whether the paratroopers' actions violated the military conduct code.

Division spokeswoman Maj. Amy Hannah declined to say how many paratroopers are involved or identify their unit within the division. A defense official speaking on condition of anonymity said up to seven soldiers are involved.

Hannah said soldiers questioned will be allowed to seek legal assistance, but she declined to say if any one had been charged.

"Once the investigation is complete, the chain of command will take appropriate action," Hannah said.

The military-themed Web site does not appear to make any direct reference to the 82nd Airborne or Fort Bragg. The registered owner of the Web site's domain name lists an address in Fayetteville, the city that adjoins Fort Bragg."
OK, now I understand all the search hit's I got yesterday...Sorry I dont have any links.

The Fadhila Drumbeat, and a Security Meltdown in Baghdad

"Fadhila: There isn’t much more to report on the ‘Block of 100’ except to say that it is not panning out as planned. Although there are rumblings such as Fadhila’s misgivings concerning their share of the compensatory seats (they are getting 1 out of the 19 that the UIA is entitled to in the parliamentary distribution), and Nadhim Al-Jabiri is still adamantly insisting that he is a candidate for prime minister, no signs of a serious rift can yet be discerned.

However, there are more hints that an agreement had been struck between Fadhila and Allawi. One such indication is the fact that the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat ran an Op-Ed by Adnan Hussein—an indefatigable cheerleader for the Allawi camp—singing the praises of Jabiri. Other allies of Allawi’s are telling whoever would listen that they “can do business with a man like Jabiri.” SCIRI and Da’awa have started a whisper campaign denouncing Jabiri as a Ba’athist and his patron, Shaikh Yaqoubi as a spy for Saddam’s secret police."
Talisman Gate

US audit finds 'spectacular' waste of funds in Iraq

"That is what The Australian says an audit by the the US Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction of the former Coalition Provisional Authority office in Hilla, Iraq, has uncovered. The newspaper says the report details bundles of money stashed in filing cabinets, a US soldier who gambled away thousands of dollars, and stacks of newly minted notes distributed without receipts.

The findings come almost a year after Stuart Bowen, the Inspector-General, found that more than $9 billion of Iraq's oil revenues, which was disbursed in 2004 by the then US-led CPA, could not be accounted for.

The audit, released on Wednesday ... describes a country in the months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein awash with US dollars and a "wild west" atmosphere where even multi-million-dollar contracts were paid for in cash ...
The huge sums in cash were paid out with little or no supervision and often without any paperwork, the reconstruction spending audit found. The report found problems with almost 2000 contracts worth $US88.1 million.

The New York Times reports that the new audit found problems "in an area that includes half the land mass in Iraq, with new findings in the southern and central provinces of Anbar, Karbala, Najaf, Wasit, Babil, and Qadisiya."

Some of the misuse details in the report: Agents from the inspector general's office found the living and working quarters of American officials "awash in stacks of $100 bills" known as bricks. In another case, a soldier gambled away $40,000 of reconstruction money when he accompanied the Iraq boxing team to the Philippines. One contractor received more than $100,000 to completely refurbish an Olympic pool but only polished the pumps. In a more tragic case, three people plunged to their deaths in a Hilla hospital elevator that had been rebuilt and improperly certified as safe.
"What's sad about it is that, considering the destruction in the country, with looting and so on, we needed every dollar for reconstruction," said Wayne White, a former State Department official whose responsibilities included Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and who is now at the Middle East Institute, a research organization. Instead, Mr. White said, large amounts of that money may have been wasted or stolen, with strong indications that the chaos in Hilla might have been repeated at other provisional authority outposts.
Others had a similar reaction. "It does not surprise me at all," said a Defense Department official who worked in Hilla and other parts of the country, who spoke anonymously because he said he feared retribution from the Bush administration. He predicted that similar problems would turn up in the major southern city of Basra and elsewhere in the dangerous desert wasteland of Anbar province. "It's a disaster," the official said of problems with contracting in Anbar.


"An old Arab lived close to *New York* City for more than 40 years. One day he decided that he would love to plant potatoes and herbs in his garden, but he knew he was alone and too old and weak. His son was in college in Paris, so the old man sent him an e-mail explaining the problem:

"Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, that you would help me and dig up the garden for me. I love you, your father."

The following day, the old man received a response e-mail from his son:

"Beloved father, please don't touch the garden. That is where I have hidden 'the *THING*.' I love you, too, Ahmed."

At 4pm the FBI and the Rangers visited the house of the old man and took the whole garden apart, searching every inch. But they couldn't find anything. Disappointed, they left the house.

The next day, the old man received another e-mail from his son:
"Beloved father, I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes, that is all I could do for you from here; Your loving son Ahmed."
The Big Pharaoh

The Hamas Factor!

"Hamas’ electoral victory, although billed as a “surprise” or a “shock” by many newspapers, did not really come as a major surprise to most observers of Palestinian politics. In fact, the whole reason why Abu Mazin seemed to have entertained postponing the elections for a while was directly related to his firm conviction that holding the elections at this point in time will result in a surrounding victory by Hamas.

Still, we have to realize that Hamas’s victory does not come as mandate for holy war against Israel. Rather, the holy war that the majority of the Palestinians want is one against corruption and inefficient rule and for improving the quality of life and the living standards of the average Palestinian."

Friday, January 27, 2006

U.S. Brings Back the .45

"January 27, 2006: After two decades of use, the U.S. Department of Defense is getting rid of its Beretta M9 9mm pistol, and going back to the 11.4mm (.45 caliber) weapon. There have been constant complaints about the lesser (compared to the .45) hitting power of the 9mm. And in the last few years, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and the marines have officially adopted .45 caliber pistols as “official alternatives” to the M9 Beretta. But now SOCOM has been given the task of finding a design that will be suitable as the JCP (Joint Combat Pistol). Various designs are being evaluated, but all must be .45 caliber and have a eight round magazine (at least), and high capacity mags holding up to 15. The new .45 will also have a rail up top for attachments, and be able to take a silencer. Length must be no more than 9.65 inches, and width no more than 1.53 inches."

Hamas: 'We wanted to be in the opposition'

"More than 50 percent of the Palestinian Legislative Council is theirs, and they don't have a clue what to do next, but according to at least one Hamas leader, talking to Israel is in the cards. "We're examining our options," said Yasser Mansour, the No. 5 Hamas leader told The Jerusalem Post. "We are researching each and every issue."

Indeed, a Hamas leader in Nablus, a professor at An-Najah University who did not run, told the Post that many of the leaders were disappointed with the results. "We didn't want this, we didn't hope for this. We wanted to be in the opposition," he said, speaking at a green-flagged, rabble-rousing victory rally in downtown Nablus. "Now all the responsibility is on us."

What is certain is that although it holds a majority and it can form its own government, Hamas does not want to run the country alone. "We will speak to all the parties and make a coalition," Mansour told the Post.

Hamas, and everyone else, expected the party to be a strong opposition. It could probably have continued terror attacks on Israel. It could have kept an eye on Fatah ministers and made sure the funds went where they were meant to go. It could have voted down any bills proposed that compromised its ideals. Let Fatah deal with the aftermath.

Forget that scenario now. Hamas won 57.5% of the PLC seats. "Instead of being an opposition in the Palestinian Authority, we are the PA," Ahmed Doleh, a well-spoken school principal and No. 36 on the Hamas list told the Post at the victory rally. Doleh, wearing a suit and tie, shook hands with numerous men, young and old, who approached him after the rally and congratulated him.

Looking somewhat dazed at the responsibility that had fallen into the laps of his fellow Hamas colleagues, Doleh said Hamas would deal with Israel, like it already was doing in the municipalities, on issues that concern day-to-day life.

"Hamas will deal with Israel on daily issues," he said, repeating Mansour's mantra that the party is researching how to fulfill "the interests of the Palestinian people." It is only after those talks that it will make decisions regarding the future of the PA government.

"One of the first things we will do is become part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization," he said, referring to the umbrella group that makes all the important decisions and includes Palestinians in the country and abroad. Hamas was not a member until now.

On election day, before it was known that Hamas would be the government and not the opposition, the soft-spoken Mansour, who has been in and out of Israeli jails since 1992, talked to the Post in a reporter's car outside a local mosque.

He explained that the only way Hamas would end its attacks was if the occupation ended. "Then Hamas can give peace," he said.

Mansour said Hamas will offer Israel a long-term hudna (cease-fire). "There is no time-limit to a hudna. It depends on the sides," he said.

At that point Mansour spoke of ideology. He said that ideally Hamas would want the world to be an Islamic state, but practically speaking it wants a Palestinian state in all of mandatory Palestine.

"We can accept that the Israelis who were born here will be citizens in our state," he said, adding that the Palestinian people will decide the nature of the state. "We cannot force people to be religious."

However, Fatah voters were fearful of war, not religion, when they woke up to discover that Hamas had a majority. "This means trouble," said an accountant and Fatah loyalist in a coffee shop downtown. "No one can predict what a future with Hamas will bring. Maybe there will be a fight or maybe Hamas will resign."
He worried about the future with other countries. "We were hoping that after the elections we could make a peace deal with the Israelis and finish this fighting," he said. "Do you think the EU, US and Israel will support the new Palestinian government with Hamas? If Israel does not agree to Hamas's demands, it will mean reverting to fighting. Since they will control the military, they will tell them to fight. The people are weak. They can't fight."

Indeed, the security forces guarding hotels where foreign election observers stayed had long faces. "This is terrible," said one named Majdi. "Maybe Hamas will tell us to go to war."

Looking over at his colleagues, he asked "You guys ready for jihad?"

The line of young men in camouflage uniforms carrying assault rifles looked up at him blankly. "No man," said one. "No way."

But hours after the results were announced, Hamas voters in Nablus said that Hamas's victory means that it will for certain lay down its arms and give up its ideology.

"If they were in the opposition, they would have been able to continue attacks," said a university student named Essam as he sat in a Nablus coffee shop with a friend, smoking a water pipe and discussing the new situation. "But now that they are the government, they can't attack Israel."

His friend Yazen, who also voted for Hamas, looked forward to the new situation. "Now they must talk to Israel. They have no choice. We need to stability and they have to bring it.""

I for one see this as a good thing. For one now we know, second now we can deal with the real popular government. Face to face, if they put up their fists, we put up ours, if they hold out their hand, we take it.

One thing is for sure, they will now they have to govern, maybe that will keep them busy for a while at least.

what to do from here?

Is it just me? Or is this the stupidest thing this administration has ever done. This goes beyond any mistakes, this is a premeditated war crime. Am I wrong, or isn't there a Serbian general on trial right now for doing something like this?

What do we do, where do we go from here. Are we at the bottom, or is the next revelation going to be even worse.

I have never supported impeachment, but I don't know what else to think right now. Is there some other way, should congress censer, can they? what to do from here?

Yet another US military crime - targeting Iraqi women (updated)

"Why is it that news of these crimes simply will not abate?

How many more crimes will the US military stand accused of?

An AP reporter revealed that US seizure of Iraqi women to blackmail Iraqi male suspects had been used in Iraq.

"In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife.""

Click here for the officer's memo.

So, here's the big question. Who started the spate of kidnappings in post-Saddam Iraq?

The reporter cites email memos which indicated undisclosed numbers of Iraqi women detained. Click here for the military memos."
Truth about Iraqis

Immature Discussions Reveal Hard Emotions And Concern Me!

"I’ve been hearing strange analysis of the political process in Iraq and how the state is being formed. It is normal to hear Iraqis discuss politics, even under Saddam, but then they were mostly politics against “the occupiers and enemies” and rarely about the Iraqi internal politics.

“The Iraqi defense minister converted to a Shiite,” said one I know. “No Sunni would visit Iran,” he said as an evidence of the minister’s adoption of Shiite Islam."
24 Steps to Liberty


""Torture is used systematically against political detainees in Iraqi prisons and detention centres. The scale and severity of torture in Iraq can only result from the acceptance of its use at the highest level. There are no attempts to curtail or prevent such violations or punish those responsible." ~ Amnesty International, 15 August, 2001, Iraq: Systematic Torture of Political Prisoners.

From Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, there are a few must-see videos from the Saddam regime. That site will give you plenty of warning about "GRAPHIC VIDEO MATERIAL" and all that.

However, I recommend that you force yourself to watch, especially if you are one of the following types of fatheads (of course I have a different F-word in mind for all of those who fall into one of the following categories, but I'm trying to be polite):

1. Fathead who opposed the war (i.e. a Saddam supporter).

2. Fathead who thinks Americans know how to torture (Most likely a Saddam supporter).

3. Fathead American isolationist (You're not in Kansas anymore, Toto).

4. Fathead who just doesn't care (You are already dead, you just don't know it. Go ahead and kill youself now).

5. Fathead who thinks Western lives are more valuable than other lives (You're a racist).

I think I object to all the warnings about graphic material and not letting children see these videos. There were no graphic warnings for Kurdish or Iraqi schoolchildren who were hustled out of the classroom to line up on the playground in time to watch their teachers and school administrators get tortured or executed. There were no graphic warnings for Kurdish or Iraqi children who were rounded up in their villages to watch their relatives, friends and neighbors get tortured and/or executed. There were no graphic warnings for Kurdish or Iraqi children just before they were lined up in front of the ditch that would become their mass grave."

Why Do They Do It?

'A few days ago, I watched the movie "Veronica Guerin" on DVD.Veronica was an Irish journalist who investigated the drug lords in Dublin during the 90s. She pushed her limits to cover that story. She faced death threats for exposing the lords in the Irish media. In 1996, she was silenced by an assassin. To their disappointment, her death resulted in an outrage and crackdown on the drug trade in Dublin. It took her death to mobilize people and the government to fight those criminals.

In one movie scene, the drug lord calls her and threatens the life of her 6-year-old son. After the phone and while shaking from the horror, she tells her husband not to tell her boss that she cried."
Iraqi in America

Documents Show Army Seized Wives As Tactic

"The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed.

The U.S. military on Thursday freed five of what it said were 11 women among the 14,000 detainees currently held in the 2 1/2-year-old insurgency. All were accused of "aiding terrorists or planting explosives," but an Iraqi government commission found that evidence was lacking."

Iraqi Forces Arrest About 60 After Clashes

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi forces clashed with insurgents Friday near the notorious airport road and other districts of western Baghdad, arresting nearly 60 people as the sounds of a rousing song, "Where are the terrorists now?" blared from police car loudspeakers.

The fiercest clashes occurred in the Jihad district along the main road to Baghdad International Airport - scene of numerous bombings and ambushes.

U.S. attack helicopters roamed the skies and the rattle of automatic weapons fire echoed through the streets as motorists abandoned their vehicles and merchants shuttered their shops.

Iraqi troops armed with rifles and machine guns blocked access to the areas where security operations were under way. However, residents reported seeing insurgent snipers on rooftops in the Jihad area and masked gunmen, some armed with rocket-propelled grenades, in the alleyways.

An Associated Press photographer watched as gunmen shot dead two men trying to flee the area. Residents said the two were killed because they were collaborating with the Americans.

In the Saydiyah neighborhood, witnesses saw police hustle about a dozen men, blindfolded and handcuffed, into pickup trucks and driven away, while police car loudspeakers blared the lyrics to a commando fight song - "Oh God, you protected the homeland, where are the terrorists now?""

Embedded With U.S. Marines

"AP Correspondent Antonio Castaneda is embedded with U.S. Marines in Ramadi, one of the most violent cities in Iraq. This is the first of his periodic blog on his experiences there.


FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 7:05 p.m. local


Ramadi - A portrait of a scorching Iraq made of oceans of sand, sagging and nondescript buildings has been etched into the public mindset. But there's another side of Iraq that slowly takes form over the winter: one of freezing nights and occasional rainstorms that turn swaths of the country into giant mud puddles.

Here in Ramadi, possibly Iraq's most violent city, weather should be the last thing on anyone's mind as the city endures urban shootouts and daily explosions. But weather is morale, remarked a colleague to me as he trudged through a mud landscape and tentatively tested the depth of murky pools of water with the tip of his boot. A usually annoying inconvenience took on new dimensions as tanks and multi-ton armored vehicles plowed down the narrow streets of this military base, creating ravines hidden by sheets of cold, standing water. The mud stuck on boots, socks, jackets, hair, mattresses and brought a dull chill to everything.

"Everything else isn't so bad but it's the mud that gets to you. Look, you've only been here two days and you're already packed in it," said Sgt. Rich Scaricaciottoli as he escorted me through Camp Ar Ramadi, which looked mostly the same since my last visit in May. I wondered how Korean war veterans had endured tours through similar weather - and more casualties - over longer periods of time."

US Commander: Insurgents Driven from Tal Afar in Northern Iraq

"Colonel McMaster says when his forces first arrived in northern Iraq last May, insurgents, including foreign fighters and Saddam loyalists, had choked the life out of the region by conducting systematic attacks throughout the area.

McMaster says many of the insurgents infiltrated the city of Tal Afar, which lies about 60 kilometers from porous Syrian border.

"What the enemy really needed to do is intimidate the population in the area, to give them safe-haven so people would be afraid to cooperate with our forces or Iraqi security forces trying to bring security to the area," he said. "They also hoped to incite sectarian violence, which they did by collapsing the police force, turning the police force, in effect, into a sectarian militia that further fed the cycle of sectarian violence."

A turning point came last September when, for the first time, U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces took the lead in a major military operation against insurgents in Tal Afar."

Colombia Busts Ring Linked to al-Qaida

"Colombia has dismantled a false passport ring with links to al-Qaida and Hamas militants, the acting attorney general said Thursday after authorities led dozens of simultaneous raids across five cities.

The gang allegedly supplied an unknown number of citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries with false passports and Colombian nationality without them ever stepping foot in the country, the attorney general's office said in a written statement.

The counterfeited passports were then used to facilitate their entry into the United States and Europe.

Nineteen people were arrested in Thursday's raids, carried out in collaboration with U.S. authorities, the attorney general's office said. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota were not immediately available for contact.

An undisclosed number of those arrested are wanted for working with al-Qaida, the international terrorist organization headed by Osama Bin Laden, and the militant Palestinian group Hamas, said acting Attorney General Jorge Armando Otalora.

"We confirm that some of the arrestees are wanted for extradition for collaborating with terrorist groups al-Qaida and Hamas," Otalora told RCN television."

Iraqi tribes in Anbar arrest 270 Arab and foreign al-Qaeda members!

"From Dar al-Hayat (Arabic):

The Anbar tribes’ campaign to rid the province of Zarqawi’s terror organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq is in its 2nd day and so far, 270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested.
Usama Jad’aan, the leader of Karabila tribes in Qaim told al-Hayat that “the operation will continue to eliminate terror elements according to a quality plan” and added “270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested, in addition to some Iraqis who were providing them shelter”.

Sheikh Jad’aan added “the operation is conducted in coordination between the tribes and the minister of defense Sa’doun al-Dulaimi and since we arrested hundreds of terrorists, I don’t expect the operation to take a lot of time”.


'To all;

Some of you are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and suffering from, at the minumum, difficulty adjusting, and alot of us are suffering from PTSD.

I'm involved in starting up an organization which is dedicated to helping combat the effects of PTSD.

Take a look at the site, tell me what you think. We're not totaly up and running yet, but the guy who is running the program is looking for feed back.

If you need help, or know someone who does, let me know.

Inside Iraq -john of arabia

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Saddam to sue George Bush and Tony Blair

"...On the other hand there is good news about a U-turn of the war against terrorism. Over the last few days when the Western tribes and people started fighting the terrorists. It is started in Ramadi after Al-Qaeda attacked and killed their volunteers for the Iraqi police. They formed popular militia to fight and expel the terrorists who escaped to other regions. Soon after that the uprising in Ramadi spread to the nearby areas including Al-Qaem by the Syrian border for the last three days."
I know I said I did not believe it, but now that sam is telling us this news, I suggest we pay closer attention to this development. Whatever that kernal of truth is I don't know or understand, but there must be something to it, sam is so rarely wrong about these things.

The Iraqi Insurgent Divide Widens

"The residents of troubled Sunni city of Samarra, where the insurgency has maintained an active presence, have voiced its dismay ay al-Qaeda’s brutal tactics. One week ago, a local resident tipped off Coalition forces on the whereabouts of an insurgent bomb-making cell. A joint Iraqi-Coalition raid netted seven suspects, including two of the city’s most wanted terrorists. Two days ago, a demonstration against al-Qaeda, organized by the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Muslim Scholars’ Association, turned out over 1,000 protestors."

America's patience is running out, the UIA rejects pressures.

"Today al-Hurra TV reported that the presidency council (Talabani, and his deputies Ghazi al-Yawir and AbdulMahdi-met in Baghdad to discuss the results of the elections and the necessity to form a government that reflects national unity. The meeting also discussed the first session of the new parliament that is planned to take place two weeks after the election authorities finish studying the objections and certifies the final results.

Although the final results were announced a week ago, there are still no serious talks about the formation of the government as apparently the various blocs need some time to fix their internal situation to be ready for such talks which everyone here expects to be tough and lengthy. So far, individual statements and not meetings are the main way of dialogue, pulse-checking and measuring reactions among the different blocs."

Web post urges jihadists to attack Alaska pipeline

"A recent posting on a Web site purportedly affiliated with al-Qaida urges attacks against the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and Valdez tanker dock, calling on jihadists to either shower the pipe with bullets or hide and detonate explosives along its length.

The unknown author encourages small cells of four or five mujahedeen, or Muslim guerrillas, living in the United States or in Canada or Mexico to mount the attacks.

The 10-page posting includes numerous links to Web sites providing maps and other basic information about the pipeline.

Attacking oil and gas targets in the United States and other countries is key to bringing down the economy of the "American devils," the author writes, saying the message was posted in response to calls from Osama bin Laden and his top al-Qaida deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri."
Anchorage Daily

Canadians foil apparent Afghan bomb attack

"Canadian Forces in Afghanistan have foiled what could have been a horrific suicide attack, CTV News has learned.

CTV's Matt McClure, reporting from Kandahar, said a car packed with artillery shells and explosives was discovered Thursday about three kilometres from the Canadian base.

"It's not clear when or where it was going to be used, but suspicion is that it would have been used to target the coalition forces, including Canadians," said McClure."

Hezbollah Operation Leader with Ahmadinejad in Damascus?

"In Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Damascus to form his own terrorist version of a ‘Coalition of the Willing’, The New York Sun’s Meghan Clyne reports that one of America’s most wanted terrorists, Imad Fayez Mugniyah, was among the entourage swarming around Ahmadinejad. "

Jewish medical student visits Kurdistan

""One thing alone seems clear: The Kurds are a people under siege. In the United States we are not."

I would like to bring you to the attention of Jonathan Dworkin, who wrote those impressing words, you have just read. He is a medical student in his final year at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Currently he is travelling in South Kurdistan from January to March of 2006.

In his recent post he shows more of the Kurdish sentiment towards Israel, that isn't so hostile towards Jews.

To quote one part of his recent post:"

Bounce at the kangaroo court

"Saddam Hussein, the noble dictator, the lover of freedom for the Iraqi people has asked his lawyers to sue George Bush and Tony Blair at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Saddam, who for decades, defended the rights of the people of Iraq, accuses Bush and Blair of "of committing war crimes by using weapons of mass destruction and internationally-banned weapons including enriched uranium and phosphoric and cluster bombs against unarmed Iraqi civilians, notably in Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, al-Kaem and Anbar.""