Thursday, May 31, 2007

Corps refused 2005 plea for MRAP vehicles

WASHINGTON — More than two years before the Marine commandant declared getting new armored vehicles his top priority, the Corps did not fulfill an urgent request to buy 1,200 of the vehicles for troops in Anbar province, according to Marine officials and documents.
Commanders in Anbar, the heart of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, wanted the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to protect troops attacked by insurgents using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), according to a Feb. 17, 2005, request filed by then-brigadier general Dennis Hejlik.

The Marines, the request said, "cannot continue to lose … serious and grave casualties to IED … at current rates when a commercial off the shelf capability exists to mitigate" them. Hejlik and a Marine Corps spokesman, Brig. Gen. Robert Milstead, confirmed the authenticity of the memo, which was first reported Tuesday on the Wired magazine website.

Since 2005, Pentagon leaders have shifted course on the MRAP. The Marines have requested 3,700 of the vehicles, and the Army is now seeking up to 17,700. The overall cost of buying the MRAPs could reach $25 billion, Pentagon records show.

On Wednesday, Hejlik and other officials said the Marines determined in 2005 they could protect troops better with armored Humvees than MRAPs.

Even if the Marines acted on Hejlik's February 2005 request, there weren't enough vehicles to fill it, said Tom Miller, then head of the Marines' MRAP program.
That argument doesn't make sense, said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. "How is it possible that a request that is literally life or death got lost?" asked Biden, a major supporter of the MRAP.

Hejlik, now a major general, said Wednesday that the primary threat to Marines in Iraq in early 2005 was from bombs that tore into the sides of vehicles. Hejlik commanded Marines in Iraq at the time; he now heads the Marines' Special Operations Command.

Now, however, IEDs that rip into the bottom of vehicles are a greater threat, Hejlik said. MRAPs, which feature V-shaped hulls that disperse the force of an explosion, provide more protection from those IEDs than armored Humvees with flat, lightly armored bottoms.

The Marines determined in June 2005 that Humvees with reinforced armored doors provided more protection for Marines, Hejlik said. It "was the gold standard that would provide the necessary protection."

The Marines now have more than 2,800 armored Humvees in Iraq.

It wasn't until March that Marine Corps Commandant James Conway said MRAPs were his top war-fighting priority. Eight companies are vying for contracts to produce MRAPs that could be built by July 2009, according to a May 15 memo by acting Army Secretary Pete Geren obtained by USA TODAY.

The Pentagon should have moved faster, Biden said. "You cannot tell me that this country is incapable in the next six months of building every single damn one of these vehicles that needs to be built," he said.


Iraq: Nationalists vs. Jihadists and the Sunni Split


Sunni nationalist guerrillas and jihadists battled with each other in the Iraqi capital May 31, marking a significant shift in the focus of al Qaeda and its allies, which have thus far mostly struck Shiite targets. The struggle over the leadership of the Sunni insurgency is reaching a critical phase due to the multilevel political dealings aimed at reaching a power-sharing settlement in Iraq. The jihadists are trying to exploit internal differences among the Sunnis, but they probably will not succeed since their actions likely will end up unifying the various Sunni groups against al Qaeda and its allies.


Militants from the main Sunni nationalist insurgent group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, and the al Qaeda jihadist alliance known as the Islamic State of Iraq fought fierce battles May 31 for control of the southwestern Baghdad district Al Amiriyah provoked by jihadists' efforts to assert themselves in the area. On the same day, a jihadist suicide bomber struck a police recruitment center in the Sunni-majority town of Al Fallujah, killing 30 people and wounding scores. And on May 28, a truck bomb partially destroyed a mosque that houses the shrine of a major 12th century Sunni religious figure, Abdul Qadir al-Gailani.

These three events represent a shift in the operational behavior of jihadists, who thus far mostly have concentrated their attacks on Shiite targets. The sectarian conflict in Iraq has taken a new turn in which jihadists now are hitting mainstream Sunnis. The shift indicates the struggle over the leadership of the insurgency is intensifying, especially since mainstream Sunni forces are gearing up for the power-sharing settlement that will follow the now-public U.S.-Iranian negotiations.

Al Qaeda and its allies realize their situation is becoming increasingly untenable because the movement toward a political settlement in Iraq will translate into their annihilation. We are already seeing how tribal forces in Anbar, Diyala and Babil have begun to cleanse their areas of jihadist elements. Additionally, tribal leaders in Anbar have held meetings with the al-Sadrite movement.

There also has been a realignment of the forces that span the Sunni insurgent spectrum, with the transnational al Qaeda trying to ally itself with Iraqi militants and tribes sharing its viewpoint. Meanwhile, Sunni nationalist elements such as the Islamic Army of Iraq have formed coalitions to counter the jihadists. While tribal forces have been fighting the jihadists for close to a year now, today's clash is the first between a Sunni insurgent group and the al Qaeda-led coalition. It should be noted that the ranks of Sunni nationalist groups like the Islamic Army of Iraq are filled with Baathists-turned-Islamists who belonged to the security forces during the Saddam Hussein era.

Such elements want to be included in a negotiated settlement, but they face opposition from Iran and its Iraqi allies. The Shia, who are otherwise the most divided communal group in the country, are in fact in agreement over opposition to the Baathists, whom they accuse of collaborating with the jihadists. The former Baathists must therefore demonstrate they are not aligned with the jihadists, which provides another explanation for the Sunni nationalist clash with the jihadists.

The Sunni nationalist insurgents also face competition on the issue of opposing the jihadists from several Sunni tribes, which have formed militias to fight al Qaeda and its allies in an effort to get a seat at the Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite negotiating table. Fighting among Sunnis extends beyond militant factions to a host of different Sunni groups.

In addition to the insurgent groups and the tribes with their own militias, Iraq's fractured Sunnis also include political groups such as the three-party Islamist-leaning Tawafoq Iraqi Front, with 44 seats in parliament, and the Hewar National Iraqi Front, a secular-leaning coalition of five parties that controls 11 seats in the national legislature. There is also the Sunni religious establishment, with its most notable group being the Association of Muslim Scholars led by the hard-line Sheikh Harith al-Dhari.

The sundry components that comprise the Iraqi Sunni landscape are at odds with one another over the proposed size of the Sunni share of power in a future Iraq. Given that they are part of the system already, the political groups are perhaps the most accommodating. But they face challenges from the tribes, which feel their interests have not been represented by the political groups in parliament -- thus prompting their attempt to emerge as the vanguard of the struggle against the jihadists.

This not only pits the tribes asserting themselves by fighting al Qaeda against the political groups, but it also pits them against the Sunni nationalist insurgent organizations. The nationalist organizations in turn feel the tribes are invading their turf, another reasons for today's clash in Baghdad. Another problem the Sunni insurgent groups face is their need to balance entering the political mainstream with their demand for a U.S. withdrawal. The religious establishment, which not only has maintained a tough anti-U.S. line but also has become increasingly anti-Iranian in recent months, is pushing the insurgents in this direction.

Opposition to growing Iranian influence in Iraq is one thing all Sunni factions agree upon. This anti-Shiite impulse within the Iraqi Sunni community, along with the increasing factionalism among Sunnis, provides al Qaeda and its jihadist allies the opportunity to sustain and enhance their own position by exploiting the anti-Shiite and anti-U.S. sentiment to drive a wedge between pragmatic Sunnis and more ideological Sunnis.

From the jihadist point of view, Sunnis willing to accept minority status within a Shiite- (and, by extension, an Iranian-) dominated Iraq and to work with Washington are doing so because they are not true Muslims. The extremist Wahhabism of the jihadists allows them to justify targeting the Sunni shrine, which they loathe as a symbol of what they deem deviant Sufi practices.

That said, the jihadists did not employ their signature tactic of using suicide bombers to strike the shrine. Using a truck bomb allows the jihadists to prevent any potential backlash from the Sunni community, which the jihadists do not want to alienate totally. The bombing also helps fuel the Shiite/Sunni sectarian fire by raising suspicions that Shiite militants potentially bombed the al-Gailani shrine in retaliation for the attacks on Shiite sacred sites.

The U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq have created a political dynamic not only among Iraq's three main communities but also between them, especially among the Sunnis and the Shia, both of whom are rushing for an internal consensus. The developments within the Sunni community are key in that they have resulted in a new type of sectarian war that pits Wahhabi Sunnis against mainstream ones. This emerging scenario has the potential to spoil any final settlement.


Turkey Seizes Syria-Bound Weapons

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkish authorities seized weapons hidden among construction materials on a Syria-bound train from Iran after Kurdish guerrillas bombed and derailed the train, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The cargo was discovered when authorities checked containers on the train, which was attacked by separatist Kurdish guerrillas on May 25 near the town of Genc in southeastern Bingol province, Prosecutor Ismail Sari told reporters Wednesday.

The bomb attack derailed seven of the train's cars, Sari said. Authorities were investigating the incident, and would also check cargo on the rest of the train, he said.

The Iranian Embassy issued a statement Wednesday denying that the weapons belonged to Iran, and said the allegations were being made "by circles" aiming to disrupt Turkey's close relations with Iran.

Earlier Wednesday, a government official said the cargo included machine guns and pistols. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The private Dogan news agency said the cargo included a rocket launch pad and 300 rockets, as well as other weapons and ammunition.

Turkish authorities suspect Iran is using Turkey as a transit point to send arms to Lebanon's Hezbollah movement via Syria.

On Tuesday evening, Turkish authorities forced a Syrian plane flying from Iran to land in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and searched it for weapons. No arms were found.

Turkey, the only Muslim member of NATO, borders both Iran and Syria. It has good relations with Israel and its Arab neighbors and has contributed troops to the U.N.-led peacekeeping force in Lebanon.


Sunnis Revolt Against al-Qaida

BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S. troops battled al-Qaida in west Baghdad on Thursday after Sunni residents challenged the militants and called for American help to end furious gunfire that kept students from final exams and forced people in the neighborhood to huddle indoors.

Backed by helicopter gunships, American forces joined the two-day battle in the Amariyah district, according to a councilman and other residents of the Sunni district.

The fight reflects a trend that U.S. and Iraqi officials have been trumpeting recently to the west in Anbar province, once considered the headquarters of the Sunni insurgency. Many Sunni tribes in the province have banded together to fight al-Qaida, claiming the terrorist group is more dangerous than American forces.

Lt. Col. Dale C. Kuehl, commander of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, who is responsible for the Amariyah area of the capital, confirmed the U.S. military's role in the fighting. He said the battles raged Wednesday and Thursday but died off at night.

Although al-Qaida is a Sunni organization opposed to the Shiite-dominated government, its ruthlessness and reliance on foreign fighters have alienated many Sunnis in Iraq.

The U.S. military congratulated Amariyah residents for standing up to al-Qaida.

"The events of the past two days are promising developments. Sunni citizens of Amariyah that have been previously terrorized by al-Qaida are now resisting and want them gone. They're tired of the intimidation that included the murder of women," Kuehl said.

A U.S. military official, who would not be named because the information was not for release, said the Army was checking reports of a big al-Qaida enclave in Amariyah housing foreign fighters, including Afghans, doing temporary duty in Iraq.

U.S.-funded Alhurra television reported that non-Iraqi Arabs and Afghans were among the fighters over the past two days. Kuehl said he could not confirm those reports.

The heaviest fighting came at 11 a.m. when gunmen - identified by residents as al-Qaida fighters - began shooting randomly into the air, forcing people to flee into their homes and students from classrooms.

They said the fighters drove through the streets using loudspeakers to claim that Amariyah was under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group.

Armed residents were said to have resisted, set some of the al-Qaida gunmen's cars on fire and called the Americans for help.

One Amariyah resident, reached by telephone late Thursday, said the shooting continued, especially along al-Monadhama Street, the main thoroughfare in the district not far from Baghdad International Airport, where the U.S. military has extensive facilities.

"The Americans came this afternoon and it got quiet for a while. We are staying home, frightened. We have no idea what's going on. There's nothing to do. There has been shooting outside since last (Wednesday) night," the resident said.

Everyone contacted in the neighborhood spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fears of reprisals from roaming gunmen.

Casualty figures were not immediately available. But the district councilman said the al-Qaida leader in Amariyah, known as Haji Hameed, was killed and 45 other fighters were detained.

Saif M. Fakhry, an Associated Press Television News cameraman, was shot twice and killed in the turmoil in Amariyah on Thursday. Fakhry, 26, was the fifth AP employee to die violently in the Iraq war and the third killed since December.

He was spending the day with his wife, Samah Abbas, who is expecting their first child in June. According to his family, Fakhry was walking to a mosque near his Amariyah home when he was killed. It was not clear who fired the shots.

Also Thursday, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, said U.S. military officers were talking with Iraqi militants - excluding al-Qaida - about cease-fires and other arrangements to try to stop the violence.

He also suggested he might not be able to meet the September deadline for telling Congress whether President Bush's military buildup in Iraq is working.

Odierno said commanders at all levels are being empowered to reach out for talks with militants, tribes, religious leaders and others. Iraq has been gripped by violence on a range of fronts including insurgents, sectarian rivals and common criminals.

"It's just beginning, so we have a lot of work to do in this," he said. "But we have restructured ourselves ... to work this issue."

He said he thinks 80 percent of Iraqis, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militants, can reach reconciliation with each other, although most al-Qaida operatives will not.

"We are talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces," Odierno told Pentagon reporters in a video conference from Baghdad.

On the assessment of operations that is due in September, he said he thinks it will take longer to tell whether the increase of nearly 30,000 troops will work as intended: to quell violence enough to give Iraqi officials breathing space to work on reconciliation and development issues.

In western Iraq on Thursday, a suicide bomber hit a police recruiting center in Fallujah, and there were conflicting reports about the death toll. Police said as many as 25 people were killed, but the U.S. military said just one policeman died.

Elsewhere, three policemen and three civilians were killed and 15 civilians were wounded when a suicide truck bomber struck a communications center on the western outskirts of Ramadi, according to Anbar provincial security adviser Col. Tariq Youssef Mohammed.

American forces, meanwhile, continued Thursday with the search for five kidnapped Britons in and around Baghdad's Sadr City district.

A procession of mourners, some of them women wailing and beating their chests, marched through Sadr City behind a small bus carrying the coffins of two people who police said were killed in a U.S. helicopter strike before dawn.

The U.S. military said it had no report of airstrikes in Sadr City and that there were no civilian casualties in the second day of the search for the Britons. The five were abducted from a Finance Ministry data processing building in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday.

APTN video tape from Sadr City showed the coffins of the victims atop a small bus with men and women walking behind, crying. A young boy could be seen sitting next to the coffins on the bus.

The American military reported the deaths of three more soldiers, two killed Wednesday in a roadside bombing in Baghdad and one who died of wounds from a roadside bomb attack northwest of the capital on Tuesday. At least 122 American forces have died in May, the third deadliest month of the Iraq conflict.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Syrian Jihadist Group Delivers Anti-Alawite Calling Card

"A man identified by the pseudonym ‘Abu Jandal’ and who is described as the 'Emir' (leader) of the Monotheism and Jihad Group in the Levant (jama’at altawhid wel jihad fi bilad alsham, henceforth ‘MJ-Levant’) delivered a 43 minutes speech—his group’s first—that was posted as an audio file onto several jihadist-friendly discussion boards yesterday.

‘Abu Jandal’ begins the substantive part of his speech by offering his condolences to the Islamic ummah on the “martyrdom” of Dadallah, the military commander of the “State of the Taliban.” He then proceeds to deliver five messages to different constituencies within Syria.

I've translated what I think are the highlights of the speech."
Talisman Gate

To Late

"Try, if you can to describe a loved one in his last hours of life. The light of Life in his eyes. The last moments that you saw him animated, sun filled hallway, the the tile gleaming under his booted feet. A man, a boy, a Soldier you have know for years. You know his wife, his daughter-remembering the day she was born and the happy look in his eyes - you know the trouble he has been through, with his wife with his father. Not knowing what to tell him, this young man with a family, since you don’t have any of those things but this Soldier looks up to you as a Leader, looking for help."
This is Yor War II

my world is falling apart

"In the last few day so many things ruined my happiness for my daughters success in school, and the summer holiday which is supposed to make me feel a little bit relaxed. and because of my new job, but on Tuesday 15\5 Roses' father-in-law passed away, he was a great man ,that was hard for everyone to lose him, may Allah bless his soul."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

5 Britons Kidnapped; 10 GIs Die in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) - Gunmen in police uniforms and driving vehicles used by security forces kidnapped five Britons from an Iraqi Finance Ministry office Tuesday, and a senior Iraqi official said the radical Shiite Mahdi Army militia was suspected.

Compounding the fresh evidence of chaos in Iraq, the U.S. military announced that a total of 10 American soldiers were killed in roadside bombings and a helicopter crash on Memorial Day, making May - at 113 fatalities - the third deadliest month of the war.

Across the country Tuesday, police and morgue officials contacted by The Associated Press reported a total of at least 120 people killed or found dead. All of the officials refused to allow use of their names fearing they could be targeted by militants.

The Finance Ministry kidnappings, if the work of the Mahdi Army as asserted by Iraqi officials, could be retaliation for the killing by British forces last week of the militia's commander in Basra.

The raid also was reminiscent of an attack by the Shiite militiamen, dressed as Interior Ministry commandos, who stormed a Higher Education Ministry office Nov. 14 and snatched away as many as 200 people. Dozens of those kidnap victims were never been found.

The Mahdi Army, which is deeply embedded in the Iraqi security forces, also was believed looking for a way to avenge the recent killing by U.S. forces of a top operative. He was said to have been the author of an attack in the holy city of Karbala in January in which gunmen - speaking English, wearing U.S. military uniforms and carrying American weapons - abducted four U.S. soldiers and then shot them to death.

In the Finance Ministry attack, about 40 heavily armed men snatched the five Britons from an annex and sped away in a convoy of 19 four-wheel-drive vehicles toward Sadr City, the Mahdi Army stronghold not far away, according to the British Foreign office in London and Iraqi officials in the Interior and Finance ministries.

Joe Gavaghan, a spokesman for Montreal-based security firm GardaWorld, confirmed that four of its security workers and one client were kidnapped. All four GardaWorld workers are British citizens, he said, declining to provide more details.

A spokesman for BearingPoint, a McLean, Va.,-based management consulting firm, said one of the company's employees, apparently the client referred to by Gavaghan, was among those abducted.

"We have been informed that a BearingPoint employee working in Iraq was taken from a work site early this morning," Steve Lunceford, the BearingPoint spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to AP.

BearingPoint has been working in Iraq since 2003 on a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded contract to support economic recovery and reform, Lunceford said.

A senior official in the Iraqi Interior Ministry confirmed the five were British and that Mahdi Army militiamen were believed responsible. The official would provide the information only on condition that his name not be used.

Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said the abduction was carried out by men wearing police uniforms who showed up at the Finance Ministry data collection facility in the 19 four-wheel drive vehicles of the type used by police. Like the other officials, he said the kidnappers sped off toward Sadr City.

Eight of the U.S. soldiers killed on Monday were from Task Force Lightning. Six were killed in an insurgent roadside bomb ambush as they raced to rescue the two others, who died in a helicopter crash. The military did not say if the helicopter was shot down or had mechanical problems. All eight died in Diyala province north of the capital.

"We know that the helicopter had received ground fire, but do not know yet the cause of the helicopter going down," Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman, said in an interview with Associated Press Radio.

Two other American troopers died Monday in a roadside bombing in south Baghdad, the military said in a separate statement issued at Camp Victory in Baghdad.

Since the war began in March 2003, only two other months have recorded higher death tolls for U.S. troops: November 2004 with 137 deaths, and April 2004 with 135 fatalities.

Baghdad police, meanwhile, said two car bombers hit neighborhoods on opposite sides of the Tigris River on Tuesday, killing at least 40 people and wounding 123 others. A Shiite mosque was destroyed in the second of the two attacks, in the Amil neighborhood in west Baghdad.

The first attack hit Tayaran Square, riddling cars with shrapnel, knocking over pushcarts and sending smoke into the sky, witnesses said. The blast killed 23 people and wounded 68 others, a police official in the district said on condition he not be named. The official said his superiors refused to allow him to speak to reporters.

Yousef Qasim, 37, was working in his fabric shop 200 yards away when the blast tore through a line of buses waiting at the square, he said.

"I rushed there to see about four or five burning bodies," he said. "I saw flesh on the ground and pools of blood."

Shop owners grabbed their wares and tried to flee, fearing a second blast, said Talib Dhirgham, who owns a nearby laundry. Police who arrived at the scene confiscated the cameras of journalists who came to cover the aftermath, according to AP photographers and television cameramen.

More than an hour later, a pickup truck parked next to a Shiite mosque in the Amil district in western Baghdad exploded, demolishing the mosque, killing 17 people and wounding 55 others, according to a second police official, who also spoke on condition anonymity because he felt use of his name would put his life in danger.

The mosque was reduced to rubble and piles of brick, according to AP Television News videotape. Cars were flipped over, charred and dented. Residents pushed debris off nearby roofs.

In another statement issued at Camp Victory, the U.S. military said the Amil explosion was the work of a suicide bomber in a white Honda. The military did not give a death toll.

"We will work closely with our Iraqi Security Force partners to bring those responsible to justice in accordance with Iraqi laws," said Col. Ricky D. Gibbs, commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

Of the 120 reported killed or found dead nationwide on Tuesday, 35 were bodies dumped or buried in a newly dug mass grave in Diyala province. A morgue official in Baqouba, the provincial capital, and a spokesman at the provincial police operations center in the province both reported the same figure, but refused to be named fearing reprisal from al-Qaida militants and Shiite militias battling for control of the region.

In other violence, gunmen in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, set up fake checkpoints on the outskirts of the city and abducted more than 40 people, most of them soldiers, police officers and members of two tribes that had banded together against local insurgents, according to a police official in the city. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution.


I heard about this today on the radio and all I can think of is Nurotica. I hope she's not the one.

Russian missile test adds to arms race fears

Russia yesterday threatened a new cold war-style arms race with the United States by announcing that it had successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of penetrating American defences.
Russia's hawkish first deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, said the country had tested both a new multiple-warhead intercontinental missile, the RS-24, and an improved version of its short-range Iskander missile.

He said the missiles were capable of destroying enemy systems and added: "As of today Russia has new missiles that are capable of overcoming any existing or future missile defence systems. In terms of defence and security, Russia can look calmly to the country's future."

The missile tests follow months of anger in Moscow over the Bush administration's determination to install parts of a controversial missile defence shield in eastern Europe.

President Vladimir Putin has been incensed by the Pentagon's plans to site missile interceptors and radar shields in Poland and the Czech Republic. The row has contributed to the worst relations between Russia and the west for 20 years.

But as well as confrontational rhetoric from Mr Putin, Russia has also been preparing a secret military response, analysts said yesterday. They said the new RS-24 missile was capable of:

· carrying multiple independent warheads, making it almost impossible to shoot down

· travelling inter-continentally to hit targets thousands of miles away

· using sophisticated navigation systems which allow the warheads to lock on to different targets

Yesterday's launch took place at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in north-west Russia. The missile successfully hit its target 3,400 miles away in far eastern Kamchatka peninsula, on Russia's Pacific coast, the Russian strategic missile forces said.

The statement said the missile would replace two ageing ICBM systems - the RS-18 and RS-20, known in the west as the SS-19 Stiletto and SS-18 Satan, respectively. Separately, an upgraded and more accurate version of the Iskander-M cruise missile, was fired from southern Astrakhan.

Mr Ivanov, a potential successor to Mr Putin next year, hailed both tests as successful. He said Russia now had a "new tactical system and a new strategic system". He also signalled that Russia was preparing to upgrade its nuclear forces.

The treaty between the US and the Soviet Union banning intermediate range nuclear weapons was no longer effective, warned Mr Ivanov, Russia's former defence minister, because it did not apply to Russia's neighbours such as China.

Alexander Pikayev, an arms control expert and senior analyst at the Moscow-based Institute for World Economy and International Relations, said the development of the missile had probably been inevitable after the Bush administration unilaterally withdrew from the Soviet-era anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002, preventing the Start-II treaty from coming into force. The treaty banned missiles with multiple warheads.

The test comes at a time of increased tension between Russia and the west over missiles and other weapons issues.

The Bush administration insists its new missile defence system is aimed at rogue missiles fired by Iran or North Korea. But Russia says the system destroys the strategic balance of forces in Europe and is a direct threat to the country's nuclear arsenal.

"We consider it harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a powder keg," Mr Putin said yesterday when asked at a news conference with the Portuguese prime minister, Jose Socrates, about the test.

On Monday Russia called for an emergency conference in June on the key Soviet-era conventional forces in Europe treaty, which has been a source of increasing friction between Moscow and Nato.

The call follows last month's statement from Mr Putin in which he declared a moratorium on observing Russia's obligations under the treaty, which limits the number of aircraft, tanks and other non-nuclear heavy weapons around Europe. The treaty was first signed in 1990 and amended in 1999 to reflect changes since the Soviet breakup.

Russia has ratified the amended version, but the US and other Nato members have refused to do so until Moscow withdraws troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia - an issue Moscow says is unrelated.

Mr Putin warned that Russia could dump the treaty altogether if western nations refused to ratify its amended version, and the foreign ministry said on Monday that it had lodged a formal request for a conference among treaty signatories in Vienna, Austria, on June 12-15.


Great!! now the Russian have a missile to defeat our hypothetical defense system. The Bush legacy will be the downfall of the US.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Last month, the U.S. admitted one immigrant from Iraq, meanwhile we’re forsaking Iraqis who aided our cause

WASHINGTON - Just about every American serving or working in Iraq knows Iraqis who have been loyal to the United States, have risked their lives for Americans and are in danger of being killed if they stay in Iraq.

Thousands of Iraqis have fled their country, trying to escape civil war. Many of them have lost relatives and have been threatened with rape, torture or death if they continue to work with Americans.

Many of the Iraqis who welcomed U.S. soldiers after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein live in hiding because they can’t support themselves and can’t get out of the country. If they have Sunni names, they are frightened of Shiites. If they have Shiite names, they are afraid of Sunnis.

Last month, the United States admitted one immigrant from Iraq.

As Congress ties itself up in knots wrangling with the White House over what to do with 12 million illegal immigrants already here, it is an absolute scandal that in the past seven months only 69 people from Iraq have been granted refuge in America.

Last year, a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was leaked to a reporter, revealing that the United States has no contingency plans to help Iraqis if there is a withdrawal. Apparently, we learned little from the evacuation of Saigon. Even Iraqis who have been physically threatened for helping top U.S. government officials or translating for the military are not being given visas.

(Last Thursday night the U.S. Senate approved a tenfold increase in visas for Iraqi and Afghan translaters and interpreters that will allow 500 to enter the country for each of the next two years.)

Americans are dying every day in Iraq, ostensibly to help that country be free, yet Iraqis make up less than 1 percent of the total foreign-born population in the United States. Only about 90,000 people born in Iraq live in the United States, and nearly all of them were in the United States before the war began.

President Bush, determined to stay the course in Iraq, has never spoken publicly about the problem of what is happening to Iraqis loyal to the Americans but caught in the deadly crossfire.

Bush wants immigrants here illegally to have a process to gain citizenship, but he has done nothing to help Iraqis endangered because they have helped us after we invaded their country.

The United Nations reports that 40,000 Iraqis every month are becoming refugees. This has become the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the upheaval that greeted the creation of Israel nearly 60 years ago. There may be as many as 3.7 million Iraqis made homeless inside and outside the country by the violence. Some are being compensated by their losses if the U.S. military is responsible; most flee with nothing.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, acutely aware of criticism from other countries over America’s closed-door policy for Iraqis, is working on a plan that would permit up to 20,000 Iraqis into the country. But Bush’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2008 would spend only $35 million on the entire problem of Iraqi refugees, one-seventh of the amount refugee experts say is needed.

The United States is afraid that letting fleeing Iraqis into the country would let in some terrorists as well, although there are many new post-9/11 precautions in place. The damage to the U.S. reputation as millions see a cold shoulder turned to those who tried to help is just as dangerous.

Word is spreading among Iraqis that if you help Americans, your days may be numbered and your death will be painful because the Americans will not help you in return.

Boston Herald

Scum and Villainy

" Mike wrote and said he has submitted his package to become a JAG (lawyer) in the Air Force. This means he would be active duty (he is currently Guard). He should know by next month if he is accepted. Haven't gotten any posts from anyone, so it looks like AWAC will be a solo effort again.
I have encountered something I enjoy less than driving through Kabul. Car shopping. The scourge of mankind. As much as I learned to enjoy bargaining in the bazaars, this pleasure does not translate well to the dark underworld of used car sales. The first salesman I met was 21 years old. It is pretty standard that they ask what I do for a living, and eventually they find out I was in Afghanistan. This young man asked me if I liked it. I scowled and said, “What do you think?” He looked a bit embarrassed and said, “Not much, I guess."
Yes, most people out there don't have "a clue" that there is war in Afghanistan.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Episode 33 - “Out of War”

"In this video, we see Saif’s brother Mohammad who, as you may recall, was profiled in a short documentary on Youtube (not produced by us). Check it out here - Homeless. It reveals his experience as an exile, a life that his brother, our Saif, is now beginning. Saif’s life in Baghdad is done for now. But he is embarking on a whole new set of struggles and dangers. I think that the experience of Iraqi exiles is another story that desperately needs to be told."
Hometown Iraq
This is a new video blog I just found, H/T Where Date Palms Grow. Looks interesting.


"A bright ray of sun coming in through the window shades woke me up. My head was pounding and my mouth was dry as if I was sleeping in the desert. I opened my eyes slowly trying to reduce the light's unforgiving effect on my pupils. I scanned the room. My full-bookcase, my TV, an empty glass. I peeled the blanket off my chest slowly like a prisoner making his escape.

I sat on the bed cradling my head between my palms. What happened? Where was I? Ah! I remembered. It was a nightmare."
Treasure of Baghdad

Doubts Grow as G.I.’s in Iraq Find Allies in Enemy Ranks

BAGHDAD — Staff Sgt. David Safstrom does not regret his previous tours in Iraq, not even a difficult second stint when two comrades were killed while trying to capture insurgents.

“In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place,” he said. “There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome.”

But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.

“I thought, ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”

His views are echoed by most of his fellow soldiers in Delta Company, renowned for its aggressiveness.

A small minority of Delta Company soldiers — the younger, more recent enlistees in particular — seem to still wholeheartedly support the war. Others are ambivalent, torn between fear of losing more friends in battle, longing for their families and a desire to complete their mission.

With few reliable surveys of soldiers’ attitudes, it is impossible to simply extrapolate from the small number of soldiers in Delta Company. But in interviews with more than a dozen soldiers over a one-week period with this 83-man unit, most said they were disillusioned by repeated deployments, by what they saw as the abysmal performance of Iraqi security forces and by a conflict that they considered a civil war, one they had no ability to stop.

They had seen shadowy militia commanders installed as Iraqi Army officers, they said, had come under increasing attack from roadside bombs — planted within sight of Iraqi Army checkpoints — and had fought against Iraqi soldiers whom they thought were their allies.

“In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war,” said Sgt. First Class David Moore, a self-described “conservative Texas Republican” and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. “Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me.”

It is not a question of loyalty, the soldiers insist. Sergeant Safstrom, for example, comes from a thoroughly military family. His mother and father have served in the armed forces, as have his three sisters, one brother and several uncles. One week after the Sept. 11 attacks, he walked into a recruiter’s office and joined the Army.

“You guys want to start a fight in my backyard, I got something for you,” he recalls thinking at the time.

But in Sergeant Safstrom’s view, the American presence is futile. “If we stayed here for 5, even 10 more years, the day we leave here these guys will go crazy,” he said. “It would go straight into a civil war. That’s how it feels, like we’re putting a Band-Aid on this country until we leave here.”

Their many deployments have added to the strain. After spending six months in Iraq, the soldiers of Delta Company had been home for only 24 hours last December when the news came. “Change your plans,” they recall being told. “We’re going back to Iraq.”

Nineteen days later, just after Christmas, Capt. Douglas Rogers and the men of Delta Company were on their way to Kadhimiya, a Shiite enclave of about 300,000. As part of the so-called surge of American troops, their primary mission was to maintain stability in the area and prepare the Iraqi Army and police to take control of the neighborhood.

“I thought it would not be long before we could just stay on our base and act as a quick-reaction force,” said the barrel-chested Captain Rogers of San Antonio. “The Iraqi security forces would step up.”

It has not worked out that way. Still, Captain Rogers says their mission in Kadhimiya has been “an amazing success.”

“We’ve captured 4 of the top 10 most-wanted guys in this area,” he said. And the streets of Kadhimiya are filled with shoppers and the stores are open, he said, a rarity in Baghdad due partly to Delta Company’s patrols.

Captain Rogers acknowledges the skepticism of many of his soldiers. “Our unit has already sent two soldiers home in a box,” he said. “My soldiers don’t see the same level of commitment from the Iraqi Army units they’re partnered with.”

Yet there is, he insists, no crisis of morale: “My guys are all professionals. I tell them to do something, they do it.” His dictum is proved on patrol, where his soldiers walk the streets for hours in the stifling heat, providing cover for one another with crisp efficiency.

On April 29, a Delta Company patrol was responding to a tip at Al Sadr mosque, a short distance from its base. The soldiers saw men in the distance erecting burning barricades, and the streets emptied out quickly. Then a militia, believed to be the Mahdi Army, which is affiliated with the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, began firing at them from rooftops and windows.

Sgt. Kevin O’Flarity, a squad leader, jumped into his Humvee to join his fellow soldiers, racing through abandoned Iraqi Army and police checkpoints to the battle site.

He and his squad maneuvered their Humvees through alleyways and side streets, firing back at an estimated 60 insurgents during a gun battle that raged for two and a half hours. A rocket-propelled grenade glanced off Sergeant O’Flarity’s Humvee, failing to penetrate.

When the battle was over, Delta Company learned that among the enemy dead were at least two Iraqi Army soldiers that American forces had helped train and arm.

“The 29th was a watershed moment in a negative sense, because the Iraqi Army would not fight with us,” Captain Rogers said, adding, “Some actually picked up weapons and fought against us.”

The battle changed the attitude among his soldiers toward the war, he said.

“Before that fight, there were a few true believers.” Captain Rogers said. “After the 29th, I don’t think you’ll find a true believer in this unit. They’re paratroopers. There’s no question they’ll fulfill their mission. But they’re fighting now for pride in their unit, professionalism, loyalty to their fellow soldier and chain of command.”

To Sergeant O’Flarity, the Iraqi security forces are militias beholden to local leaders, not the Iraqi government. “Half of the Iraqi security forces are insurgents,” he said.

As for his views on the war, Sergeant O’Flarity said, “I don’t believe we should be here in the middle of a civil war.”

“We’ve all lost friends over here,” he said. “Most of us don’t know what we’re fighting for anymore. We’re serving our country and friends, but the only reason we go out every day is for each other.”

“I don’t want any more of my guys to get hurt or die. If it was something I felt righteous about, maybe. But for this country and this conflict, no, it’s not worth it.”

Staff Sgt. James Griffin grew up in Troy, N.C., near the Special Operations base at Fort Bragg. His dream was to be a soldier, and growing up he would skip school and volunteer to play the role of the enemy during Special Operations training exercises. When he was 17, he joined the Army.

Now 22, Sergeant Griffin is a Delta Company section leader. On the night of May 5, as he neared an Iraqi police checkpoint with a convoy of Humvees, Sergeant Griffin spotted what looked like a camouflaged cinderblock and immediately halted the convoy. His vigilance may have saved the lives of several soldiers. Under the camouflage was a huge, six-array, explosively formed penetrator — a deadly roadside bomb that cuts through the Humvees’ armor with ease.

The insurgents quickly set off the device, but the Americans were at a safe distance. An explosive ordnance disposal team arrived to check the area. As the ordnance team rolled back to base, they were attacked with a second roadside bomb near another Iraqi checkpoint. One soldier was killed and two were wounded.

No one has been able to explain why two bombs were found near Iraqi checkpoints, bombs that Iraqi soldiers and the police had either failed to notice or helped to plant.

Sergeant Griffin understands the criticism of the Iraqi forces, but he believes they, and the war effort, must be given more time.

“If we throw this problem to the side, it’s not going to fix itself,” he said. “We’ve created the Iraqi forces. We gave them Humvees and equipment. For however long they say they need us here, maybe we need to stay.”


US Marines Patrolling Fallujah

Fallujah, IRAQ: US Marines from 2/6 battallion, Golf Company kick the locked door of an Iraqi home to search for suspected insurgents in the restive city of Fallujah, 50kms (30 miles) west of Baghdad 21 May 2007.

A Memorial Day Message

"Memorial Day weekend is upon us. I am out here in Anbar Province with Task Force 2-7 Infantry. The area around Hit (pronounced “heat”) is so quiet previous units likely would not recognize the still. There was a small IED incident this morning, and the explosion was a direct hit, but the bomb was so small that mechanics had the vehicle back in shape by late afternoon. Calm truly has fallen on this city.
Dishes are appearing on rooftops and people are communicating more freely. During today’s prayers, one mosque announced that divorce is bad and that parents should take care of their children. One mosque cried about Christians and Jews, while yet another announced that Al-Jazeera is lying and people should not watch it."
Michael Yon

End the US-British occupation of Iraq now

"The situation in Iraq is getting worse and more complicated essentially by the wrong policies of the American and British occupying forces. On the same time more counterattacks happening against these forces with increasing losses.

The British troops led an attack in the last 2 days against targets that has been described by these forces as belong to Sadar militias (Al-Mahdi Army) in Basrah. Many civilians were killed during these attacks and one leader from the MA in Basrah. The MA as expected retaliated by rockets against British base in Basrah. More attacks and confrontations are expected."

Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond (Paperback)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Over the past five years, youth groups, religious organizations, politicians and individuals have responded to the crisis in Sudan in increased numbers. This book is a guide for these already involved, as well as those who are interested in taking action, or speaking out against the mass killings that continue to occur in the country's Darfur region. Coauthored by Cheadle, actor and star of the film Hotel Rwanda, and Prendergast, senior adviser of the International Crisis Group, the book is a pastiche of practical information, instructions, memoir and history. As a handbook for budding activists, it's informative and, at times, inspiring. The combination of charts, lists and first-person accounts create a simple and reasonable path to action. But as a source for information about the conflict in Sudan, the book falters. The history is neither clear nor succinct, and there is not much of it. Furthermore, although Cheadle and Prendergast's personal anecdotes are entertaining, they overshadow the few anecdotes about the Sudanese living through the crisis. The book's most interesting moment, besides the useful advice on how to get involved, is its delving into the government's excuses for inaction. (May 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Going in?

"BEIRUT — In my previous post, I mentioned that Maj. Gen Ashraf Rifi, the head of the Internal Security Forces told me, he “thinks the army will have to go in” to Nahr el-Bared to uproot the militants of Fatah al-Islam.
“They are very dangerous,” he told me in his plush office. “We have no choice, we have to combat them.”

Perhaps I underplayed his comments, because if he’s right, “going in” would be a huge development. The Palestinians have run their own security in the 12 camps under a 1969 agreement brokered by the Arab League. Now, that agreement was allegedly revoked in 1987 by the Lebanese Parliament, but there’s still at least a tacit agreement that the Palestinians mind their own store."
Back to Iraq

Police: Man Beat Iraq GI's Son to Death

CALUMET CITY, Ill. -- A man beat his girlfriend's 4-year-old son to death after she left the boy in his care while she was deployed to Iraq, police said.

A judge denied bond on Saturday for Donell Parker, 23, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cameron Smith. Parker was charged Friday, a day after the boy was found dead in his bed in a suburb south of Chicago.

Judge Frank Castiglione said at Saturday's bail hearing that Parker showed a "wanton disrespect for human life." Prosecutors told the court the boy suffered multiple rib fractures, damaged internal organs and swelling around his brain.

Parker told police he beat the boy, but would not say why, said Calumet City police Chief Patrick O'Meara.

Parker's lawyer, Marcos Reyes, said his client denied all the charges.

Cameron was punched in the head, stomach and chest, and whipped with a belt from Tuesday to Wednesday evening, O'Meara said. An autopsy found he died of blunt-force trauma to the abdomen and head, O'Meara said.

The boy's 7-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother had also been in Parker's care, and they were unhurt, O'Meara said. They were put in the custody of their maternal grandparents after Cameron was found dead.

The boy's paternal grandmother in Columbus, Ga., said she was shocked.

"I just can't believe the baby was beat to death," Sherry Smith told the Chicago Tribune. "It hurts me because we weren't there to protect him."

Cameron's mother, Sgt. Lavada Smith, 28, was headed back to Illinois Friday after spending only ten hours at her new duty station in Iraq.

She was called to active duty in April with her Army National Guard unit and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., on May 12 in preparation for deployment, said Lt. Col. Alicia Tate-Nadeau, an Illinois National Guard spokeswoman.

Family members said Cameron's father, Gary Smith Jr., 27, had been deployed to Iraq last August and last saw his three children on a brief leave in January. O'Meara said the children's parents were separated.

Family members said the Smiths had been married for eight years, and had both been in the military most of that time. O'Meara said Lavada Smith had apparently been living with Parker for about a year.


Just the kind of news to get on Memorial Day

Lebanon Defends Military Aid From U.S.

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) - Lebanon's pro-Western prime minister on Saturday rejected opposition criticism over planeloads of U.S. military aid pouring in to shore up the country's army in its battle with Islamic militants in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Three more U.S. transport planes with military supplies arrived from Kuwait as part of an international airlift. A total of eight military transport planes have landed at Beirut airport since late Thursday - four from the U.S. Air Force, two from the United Arab Emirates and two from Jordan.

A four-day-old truce between the Lebanese army and al-Qaida inspired Fatah Islam militants mostly held up on Saturday despite sporadic gunfire in the Nahr el-Bared camp on the outskirts of the northern port city of Tripoli. But the Lebanese army has been gearing up for a renewed fight, rolling more troops into place around the camp already ringed by hundreds of soldiers backed by artillery and tanks.

The military confirmed it has received supplies from Arab countries and the U.S. but gave no details. Media reports said they included ammunition, body armor, helmets and night-vision equipment.

U.S. military officials have said Washington will send eight planeloads of supplies, part of a package that had been agreed on but that the Lebanese government asked to be expedited.

The U.S. aid is sensitive in a nation deeply divided between supporters of the pro-Western government and an opposition backed by America's Mideast foes, Iran and Syria. The opposition, led by the Shiite Hezbollah, accuses Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's government of being too closely allied to Washington.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned Friday that Lebanon was being dragged into a U.S. war against al-Qaida that would destabilize the country.

But Saniora told the Arabic service of the British Broadcasting Crop. on Saturday that the aid was not a "crime" and that the weapons had been offered by different countries a year ago.

"Don't we want to protect Lebanon? Who defends Lebanon?" Saniora said, adding that Nasrallah's criticism reflected a desire to "keep the army weak in order to justify the presence of other armies" - a reference to Syria, Hezbollah's close ally which controlled Lebanon for nearly three decades.

The fighting broke out last Sunday when police raided suspected hideouts of Fatah Islam in Tripoli, searching for bank robbers. It spread to nearby Nahr el-Bared where Fatah Islam claims to have more than 500 fighters armed with automatic weapons, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. The group's leader has been linked to Al-Qaida in Iraq and says he admires Osama bin Laden.

At least 20 civilians and 30 soldiers were killed in the fighting earlier this week. The Lebanese military says 60 Fatah Islam fighters were killed; the group put the toll at 10.

About half of Nahr el-Bared's 31,000 residents have fled since the truce took hold, flooding nearby Beddawi camp.

An all-out assault on the camp risks sparking unrest and violence elsewhere in the country, where some 400,000 Palestinian refugees live, mostly in camps that are rife with armed groups.

The U.S. military aid also could attract other militants into what they see as a battle against the West and its allies.

A group billing itself as al-Qaida's branch in Syria and Lebanon vowed "seas of blood" Friday if the Lebanese army resumes its attack.

Meanwhile, a few dozen more Palestinians left Nahr el-Bared on Saturday and four ambulances entered the camp bringing medicine. Trucks from the international Red Cross brought water, bread and candles.

Souad Ali, 70, one of the people who left, said she had cancer and asthma and did not know where she would go.

"I don't care if I sleep on the street. Anywhere is better than this hell," she said, pointing to the camp.

Palestinian factions have been scrambling to find a negotiated solution to end the siege.

Defense Minister Elias Murr said Friday he was "leaving room for political negotiations," which he said must lead to the surrender of the Fatah Islam fighters inside the camp.

"If the political negotiations fail, I leave it to the military command to do what is necessary," he said.


An Iraqi Fighter Reflects on Saddam Hussein - 04.30.2007

"This week, on the anniversary of President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, May 1st, 2003, we interview a member of the Iraqi resistance group, Islamic Army in Iraq. The Islamic Army of Iraq is considered a terrorist group by the United States and most members of the Iraqi government. Tareq Al-Hashemi however, while Vice President of Iraq, called them a resistance group."
Alive in Baghdad
Follow the link to the video

Friday, May 25, 2007

Former general says best hope in Iraq is 'to stave off defeat'

SAN ANTONIO — The three-star general who led the Iraq war for more than a year now says the situation is bleak and only a large, long-term troop commitment can keep the U.S. from avoiding defeat.

"I think if we do the right things politically and economically with the right Iraqi leadership, we could still salvage at least a stalemate, if you will — not a stalemate but at least stave off defeat," retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said in Friday's editions of the San Antonio Express-News.

"It's also kind of important for us to answer the question, 'What is victory?' And at this point, I'm not sure America really knows what victory is."

Sanchez, 56, was forced to retire in November after being passed over for commander of U.S. Southern Command, something he said previously was result of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

During his stint as commander of the Army's 5th Corps in 2003, Sanchez issued three memos authorizing harsher interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib, including sleep deprivation and use of dogs, as long as interrogators had written authorization.

After the international scandal erupted with photos of prisoners in degrading positions, the prison manager claimed he and others believed Sanchez's policy allowed the use of dogs and other techniques.

Sanchez isn't the only high-ranking former military leader to criticize the war's handling. Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste has appeared in television commercials accusing the Bush administration of pursuing "a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army."

Sanchez said the situation in Iraq isn't hopeless. He recommended dramatically improved U.S. and Iraqi leadership and a commitment of at least 100,000 troops for six or seven more years.

The general acknowledged that public support for such a move may no longer be available.

"It's very questionable," he said. "In terms of the will of the American people, I think that's pretty frayed at this point."

Sanchez, who is considering writing a book, wouldn't tell the newspaper whether President Bush was engaged on major Iraq decisions.

"Good questions," he replied. "More to follow."


Iraq's War Dead Live on _ Online

WASHINGTON (AP) - Army Pvt. Clinton Tyler McCormick is buried in Florida, but his photo and his words are still online. They haven't changed since he logged in to his profile on Dec. 27, 2006 - the day before he was killed by a makeshift bomb in Baghdad.

In earlier wars, families had only the letters that soldiers sent home; often, bits and pieces were removed by cautious censors. Iraq is the first war of the Internet age, and McCormick is one of many fallen soldiers who have left ghosts of themselves online - unsentimental self-memorials, frozen and uncensored snapshots of the person each wanted to show to the world.

Army Pfc. Johnathon Millican of Trafford, Ala., wrote on his MySpace page before he was killed in Karbala, Iraq: ``You don't have to love the war but you have to love the warrior.''

``I am a paratrooper, that means that I jump from a perfectly good airplane into who knows what,'' wrote Millican, who was 20 when he died. He never had the chance to move back to the southern United States, as his profile says he wanted to do.

McCormick, 21 when he died, also was from the South. ``Dixie boy,'' his profile proclaims in big letters outlined in red. His photograph is a faraway headshot with an ironing board propped up against a white wall in the background. McCormick isn't smiling.

Bob Patrick, an Army veteran who runs the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, says, ``War as we know it and as we're taught through schools, in most cases it's through the filter ... of a historian.'' MySpace pages, he says, ``are grass-roots stories on the foxhole level, or the cockpit level.''


The phenomenon is growing because the war dead are young - as of March 24, more than three-fourths of those killed in Iraq were 30 years old or younger - and comfortable putting personal information online.

``A lot of the younger soldiers, especially young enlisted soldiers, have a MySpace page,'' says Army Sgt. Tom Day, one of the living who has served three tours in Iraq and is currently deployed to Kuwait. MySpace has more than 100 million registered users.

The result has been pictures of war that are ``much more personal and much more public,'' said the History Project's Patrick. ``That's a function of technology.''

The number of soldiers who leave behind online profiles could drop after the Pentagon's recent announcement that servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan won't be able to access MySpace and other social Web sites from Defense Department computers. But the new rules don't affect commercial or private computers - so soldiers will still be able to create profiles from their homes in the U.S. before they leave. They can also use Internet cafes or commercial connections to maintain their profiles from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even if the Pentagon blocks soldiers from accessing MySpace, Facebook or other sites, people will find a way to use the latest technologies to remember the fallen, said Peter Bartis, a senior program specialist at the Veterans History Project.

``There is a part of the human psyche that wants to memorialize important people in their lives and important places,'' Bartis said. ``I think that cutting it off is interfering with a normal human behavior and that human behavior will find another way of doing it.''

MySpace, a unit of News Corp., has had to deal with the issue. ``We often hear from families that a user's profile is a way for friends to celebrate the person's life, giving friends a positive outlet to connect with one another and find comfort during the grieving process,'' said Dani Dudeck, a MySpace spokeswoman.

MySpace won't delete a profile for inactivity, and it also won't let anyone else control a deceased member's profile.

Family and friends can create different memorial profiles as long as they comply with the site's rules, and families can have a fallen soldier's profile deleted.

That could be a relief to some families because profiles suddenly frozen sometimes violate the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead. Some profiles linked to soldiers' names include references to using illegal drugs or ethnic slurs for Iraqis. And some pages are rife with the profanity often forgiven in war zones.

``Soldiers are soldiers, and soldiers use language when they're in the middle of battle that they wouldn't use at home,'' said Patrick.

Before his death in Iraq last year, Army Pfc. Nathaniel Given of Dickinson, Texas, posted a survey on his MySpace page that posed the question, ``Do you swear?''

He answered: ``What the (expletive) do you think, I'm in the infantry.''


The profiles also have become public outlets and displays for grieving loved ones. Sgt. Day said that if the worst happened to him, he would want his MySpace profile to stay up. ``I would hope people would save their photos and remember the good times we had and not dwell too much on how I went,'' he said.

Rev. John Harwell, who ministered to Pvt. McCormick at the Evangel Temple Assembly of God church in Jacksonville, Fla., discovered the Army private's page after he died. ``We left up MySpace for people as a guestbook sort of, for people to come and give thoughts and condolences,'' Harwell said in an interview.

McCormick, who went by his middle name, Tyler, had a tough family life, Harwell said. He was adopted at age 6, but didn't get along with his adopted mother and spent some time living with another member of the church.

``He really didn't have a family, it's one of the reasons he went into the military,'' Harwell said. ``When we read MySpace, we said, 'Who are all these people that Tyler was connected with, that we've never known before?'''

They are MySpace ``friends'' who have left comments attached to his profile - they didn't have to visit a grave and leave flowers to say goodbye. Months later, some are still coping.

``I can't believe this. It's my worst fear come true. I don't know how I'm ever going to be able to accept this ... to know that you're not coming home to me and I'll never get to see your face and hold you in my arms where you belong,'' Stacey Zeller, Tyler McCormick's fiance, wrote the day after he died.

Zeller, a 20-year-old student at the State University of New York-Canton, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that she and McCormick planned to marry when he got out of the military. She said he sent a mysterious package from Iraq with instructions not to open it until he came home on leave, scheduled for February.

She opened it when she found out he had died. ``It was an engagement ring along with the wedding band,'' she said.

She posts on his MySpace page because it helps her deal with losing him. ``It's a way for me to feel like I can still communicate to him, still get my thoughts and feelings out,'' she said.

``You and God are where I pull my strength from every day,'' she wrote on March 19, months after McCormick's death, ``just to get out of bed and continue on.''


Associated Press multimedia editor Matt Ford contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Clinton McCormick's MySpace page:

Nathaniel Given's MySpace page:

Johnathon Millican's MySpace page:

Tom Day's MySpace page:

Veterans History Project:
Bush admin developing plans for for reducing combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year, NEW YORK TIMES planning to report on Saturday, newsroom sources tell DRUDGE REPORT... MORE.. could 'lower troop levels to roughly 100,000 by the midst of the 2008 presidential election,' paper will claim... Sec. of Defense Gates and Condoleezza Rice proponents of the plan.... Developing...


Bush makes power grab

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.

The "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive," with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.

That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for "National Essential Functions" of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president's directives in the event of a national emergency.

The directive loosely defines "catastrophic emergency" as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

When the president determines a catastrophic emergency has occurred, the president can take over all government functions and direct all private sector activities to ensure we will emerge from the emergency with an "enduring constitutional government."

Translated into layman's terms, when the president determines a national emergency has occurred, the president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over.

Ironically, the directive sees no contradiction in the assumption of dictatorial powers by the president with the goal of maintaining constitutional continuity through an emergency.

The directive specifies that the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism will be designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.

Further established is a Continuity Policy Coordination Committee, chaired by a senior director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, to be "the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination."

Currently, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism is Frances Fragos Townsend.

Townsend spent 13 years at the Justice Department before moving to the U.S. Coast Guard where she served as assistant commandant for intelligence.

She is a White House staff member in the executive office of the president who also chairs the Homeland Security Council, which as a counterpart to the National Security Council reports directly to the president.

The directive issued May 9 makes no attempt to reconcile the powers created there for the National Continuity Coordinator with the National Emergency Act. As specified by U.S. Code Title 50, Chapter 34, Subchapter II, Section 1621, the National Emergency Act allows that the president may declare a national emergency but requires that such proclamation "shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register."

A Congressional Research Service study notes that under the National Emergency Act, the president "may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens."

The CRS study notes that the National Emergency Act sets up congress as a balance empowered to "modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority," if Congress believes the president has acted inappropriately.

NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 appears to supersede the National Emergency Act by creating the new position of National Continuity Coordinator without any specific act of Congress authorizing the position.

NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 also makes no reference whatsoever to Congress. The language of the May 9 directive appears to negate any a requirement that the president submit to Congress a determination that a national emergency exists, suggesting instead that the powers of the executive order can be implemented without any congressional approval or oversight.

Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Knocke affirmed that the Homeland Security Department will be implementing the requirements of NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 under Townsend's direction.

The White House had no comment.


'Dr. Laura' asks for privacy while son is probed over lurid MySpace page

Radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger is appealing to news media outlets to respect her son's privacy amid an Army investigation into whether he is behind a lurid personal Web page that featured cartoon depictions of rape, murder, torture and child molestation.

The posting on drew the Army's attention after the Salt Lake City Tribune reported this month that the Web page was credited to and included photos of Deryk, the 21-year-old son of the outspoken radio personality known to millions as "Dr. Laura." She can be heard locally on KFI-AM (640).

According to the Tribune, the Web page, which has since been taken down, included a photograph of a bound and blindfolded detainee, accounts of illicit drug use and a blog entry headlined by a series of obscenities and racial epithets.

Laura Schlessinger's publicist issued a statement Thursday stating that the Army "is investigating who is the actual author of the MySpace website." Army spokesmen in Afghanistan, where Deryk reportedly is stationed, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Celebrated by many for her traditionalist views — and criticized by others for the same — the talk-show host is perhaps best known for her trademark chirp, "I'm my kid's mom!" and her advice to mothers to stay at home with their young children. Deryk's tour of duty is well known to listeners: Many callers seeking out Dr. Laura's advice begin by thanking her for her son's service.

The radio host has taken a break from writing her column in the Santa Barbara News-Press but not from her other work. "She just needed a break," her spokesman, Mike Paul, wrote in an e-mail.

Matthew D. LaPlante, the Tribune reporter who broke the story about the Army investigation, had drawn a rebuke from Schlessinger for an earlier article in which he quoted her as saying Army wives should stop "whining."

She posted a reply on her website stating that her position was taken out of context. As a "military mom," she added, she whines to her husband about how scared she is for her son, but "I never whine to my son when he is able to call between missions" for fear of distracting him from his life-and-death duties.

The newspaper's reader advocate said the Tribune was flooded with calls and e-mails complaining about the article.

LaPlante said he stood by the accuracy of his quotes.

The article about the MySpace page said one blog entry read: "Yes!!! I LOVE MY JOB, it takes everything reckless and deviant and heathenistic and just overall bad about me and hyper focuses these traits into my job of running around this horrid place doing nasty things to people that deserve it … and some that don't."

The website's author indicates he is stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where, he writes, "godless crazy people like me" have become "a generation of apathetic killers."


Ramadi all-nighters

"1:06AM brings a loud rap on our door "11 in-bound. Mikes unknown".

Knocking the fuzz out of my head as we all stumble and hop around the room putting our uniforms back on. Hopping around on one foot, I avoid a collision with D squared just as someone flips the lights on.

Feeling like I'm floating to the back of Charlie medical, I run down a mental checklist of how many patients, where we are going to triage them, and making little bets in my mind that this could be a long night."
Desert Flier
"Its been a little while since Ive last posted so I thought Id better do something.

Im in a new unit now. When I got back to the States I was given time off like most Guard troops are, the required to attend a certain amount of drills as part of the reintegration process. Afterwards I was transferred to another Infantry unit without being asked if I wanted to stay in the one I was deployed with."
Chapter: War

Strange doings in Tripoli

"TRIPOLI — What the heck is going on up here? That seems to be the big question at the moment. Last night around 9 p.m., fighting started up again between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam. This prompted speculation that the push against the jihadi group had come, and I raced back up to Tripoli from my spot of being stuck in a checkpoint just outside Beirut. (The capital is locked down after three bombs this week, so security is tight.)
Atop the building where the television crews have set up, the owner of the building — a tightly wound guy in the best of times — carried around a Kalashnikov and threatened to shoot anyone who turned on their television lights.

In the darkness, you couldn’t see who was who, and a rumor — goosed, apparently by Lebanese military intelligence — swept through the gang that Fatah al-Islam had sent suicide bombers throughout the nearby area and one might be on the roof. A quick evacuation ensued."
Back to Iraq

One Day...

"I cant take the silence anymore. I just cant. Dont ask me what happened. Dont ask me why I havent written. Dont ask me what was wrong, just let it be. Just let it be for now. I guess it was an act of weakness on my part, or maybe I just couldnt write anymore. Everytime I log on, I stare at the screen. The words are there but have no meaning. I guess it just reflects how I felt then. Emptiness.

An empty shell walking in the desert with no where to go. I look around and all I see are the rays of the sun thats hitting directly at me. I squint my eyes, and I start to stumble. Im thirsty, my throat is dry, my lips are cracked. I feel something trickling down my chin. With the back of my hand I try to rub it away. But its sticky, I look, and its blood. Blood trickling down. Down my chin, making its way through to my shirt. The heat is getting to me, and for one second, one second only I lose my balance. I lose my balance and fall. I fall face down into the scorching sand. I start to cry, but theres no one around to soothe my pain away. I cry with all the frustration I have inside of me. I let out a scream, that of a mother losing its child. My shoulders shudder profusely and I cant stop. Maybe I dont wanna stop. I wanna let it all out. I begin to choke on my tears. I begin to choke on my blood. I begin to choke on the sand. Then out of nowhere I hear a beautiful sound. A sound of a chirping bird. I couldnt believe it. So I continue to sob. The chirping became closer, more beautiful. I shake my head, this is just a fragment of my imagination. There are no living things here. There cant be. But my instinct told me to look up. And I did."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CCNA and dating in Jordan

"I was busy studying for my CCNA finals which I finished this week, I got 987 out of 1000. Naturally, this absence resulted in a lot of ideas for this blog, which might prove somewhat different. Anyway, I am a Cisco Certified Network Associate now, thank you ladies, all I have to do is find a job now. Getting a job in Jordan is highly difficult for Iraqis, as is everything else. On other personal news, I was interviewed for getting a 'G' passport about one week ago, I am supposed to get it next month. I have heard so much about this mythical document, so I wonder what will happen if I got it, maybe things will never be the same again. Also, I never knew I was that striking, two weeks ago, my dentist's Palestinian secretary started flirting with me,"
I K Kid

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Military Fires Three More Gay Arabic Linguists as Shortfall Continues; Iraq Combat Units Losing Their Translators From Frontlines

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., May 23 (AScribe Newswire) -- The Associated Press disclosed today that more Arabic linguists have been fired by the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that requires separation when a commander learns a service member is gay or lesbian. The linguists were investigated after military officials listened in on conversations conducted on a high-level government computer system which allows intelligence personnel to communicate with troops on the frontlines.
One linguist was serving in Iraq with a Marine combat unit when he was discharged. A military source reported that he was known to be gay but was allowed to serve and was only formally investigated after an Inspector General audit obtained language from the computer chat rooms that apparently suggested he might be gay. Enlisted with the Navy, he was serving with the Marines in the "individual augmentation" program, which allows the military to pull talent from whatever branch they need to, in order to fill shortfalls such as that of the highly trained Arabic linguists. Under "don't ask, don't tell," the military has fired at least fifty-eight Arabic linguists.

Stephen Benjamin, who agreed to talk to researchers at the Michael D. Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was discharged from the Army this March from Ft. Gordon, Georgia. Benjamin, 23, attended the Defense Language Institute, the military's premiere training school for foreign linguists. Graduating in the top ten percent of his class, he scored a 3.3 on his Defense Language Proficiency Test, well above average. He then became a Cryptologic interpretor, responsible for collecting and analyzing signals and assigned targets to support combatant commanders and other tactical units. Arabic interpreters work with intelligence agencies to translate target cables from stateside and foreign military bases as well as providing critical translation for combat and logistics units on the frontlines. Benjamin was first introduced to Palm Center researchers by the leaders of the Call-to-Duty Tour ( ).

In October 2006, the Army Inspector General conducted an audit of a government communications system and investigated seventy service members for abusing the system. Benjamin said he was called in for questioning, and was asked about a comment he made in which he said, "That was so gay -- the good gay, not the bad one." Out of the seventy people, a small number, including Benjamin, were eventually investigated for violations of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Although he is not sure which comments prompted the investigation that led to his discharge, he said he had passingly referred to social plans that would have revealed he is gay. He said that some of the worst violations of the government computer system involved people having cyber sex on the system, but those people retained their jobs.

Benjamin was aware of the risk of being monitored, but assumed the military would be focused on other issues. "The risk was always there," he said, but in some cases, this system "was our only means of communicating," especially for those stationed in Iraq.

Dr. Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the Palm Center, who is writing a book on "don't ask, don't tell," said the loss of people like Benjamin highlights the hidden costs of the current gay exclusion policy. "The military often suggests that it fires people only when they make 'statements,' as though they are willful and flagrant violations of the law," he said. "This is a facile misunderstanding of military life. The reality is that surviving combat, working efficiently, and bonding with peers are all dependent on this human element of military life, where people talk about their lives with one another. It's hard to see how cybersex on a government communications network is not considered a career-ending offense while mentioning that you had a date last week is such a large threat to unit cohesion that the individual must be fired."

Benjamin said he was out to many of this peers, and "out entirely" in his office. In nearly every case, no one cared that he was gay, and those who did care did nothing about it. "The only harm to unit cohesion that was caused was because I was leaving," he said. "That's where the real harm is, when they pull valuable members out of a team."

During his investigation, Benjamin was given the chance to rebut the charge that he was gay. His Navy supervisor and a civilian supervisor suggested he write a statement insisting he was not gay, but lawyers at the Service Members Legal Defense Network advised him that if he lied and was later found to be gay, he could face a less-than-honorable discharge and even fraud charges for writing false statements.

His JAG officer told him the gay exclusion policy is "politically unpopular," and that military attorneys don't like enforcing the policy, an assertion reinforced when his commanding officers told him they were sorry they had to lose him. His Captain's evaluation read, in part: "EXCEPTIONAL LEADER. Extremely focused on mission accomplishment. Dedicated to his personal development and that of his sailors. takes pride in his work and promotes professionalism in his subordinates."

When he was discharged, Benjamin was preparing to re-enlist for another six years. He volunteered to deploy, hoping to serve in Iraq so he could work in the environment -- and with the soldiers -- he had directly assisted as an Arabic translator at Ft. Gordon. "I wanted to go to Iraq so I could be in the environment with the soldiers I was protecting," he said. Though he could not discuss the details of his intelligence work because many were classified, he said it involved sending reports with critical information out to the frontlines, and he knew that in his work, he "made a difference."

Benjamin is now working in Atlanta at a computer company. When his military discharge became real, he recalled: "I was kind of in disbelief. I kind of expected someone to go, ha ha, we're just kidding." But no one did. While he's enjoying his new job, it doesn't compare to what he did in the military. "I'm happy where I am now," he said "but I'd be happier in the military, doing something that mattered a little bit more."


It really is a same that the "Inquisition" has taken over the Republican party. They are as dangerous as Bin Laden and friends if you ask me.

Maybe if they would spy a little more on the enemy and a little less on gay soldier and the American public in general we would not be losing this war.

Report: Most Foreign Fighters From Gulf

KUWAIT CITY (AP) - Seventy percent of foreign insurgents arrested in Iraq came from Persian Gulf countries via Syria where they were provided with forged passports, an Iraqi intelligence officer said in a published report Wednesday.
"They, according to their own confessions, gather in mosques in the said (Gulf) states to travel to Syria using their passports, taking with them phone numbers of individuals waiting for them there," Brig. Gen. Rashid Fleih, the assistant undersecretary for intelligence of Iraq's Interior Ministry, told Kuwait's Al-Qabas daily in an interview.

Fleih did not provide more specific details about the alleged insurgents or which countries they came from. But he said once in Syria, the alleged insurgents were transported to the al-Qaim border area where they were provided with new passports after their old ones were destroyed, Fleih said in an interview from Baghdad.

U.S. and Iraqi officials claim Syria does not do enough to prohibit people of different nationalities from crossing its 380-mile border with Iraq to join the ranks of al-Qaida and other insurgent or terrorist groups there. Damascus denies the allegations and says it is doing all it can to stop them.

The Iraqi intelligence officer did not say where the other 30 percent of insurgents in custody came from. A large percentage of insurgents fighting in Iraq are Iraqi.

Iraq's other neighbor Iran, is suspected of aiding Iraqi Shiite fighters with training, money and weapons. Tehran denies the accusations.

Once in Iraq, the insurgents were provided with forged Iraqi documentation and money to buy cars which they rig with booby traps, Fleih told the newspaper.

He also accused Baathist followers of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of offering the foreign insurgents information about targets.

"In brief, there is clear intelligence cooperation between them," Fleih told the newspaper.


Dennis Kucinich for president

I was listening to Rush this afternoon when he said something very important I want you all to see:
"The last thing they want is peace. They're the obstacles to it. You've got the mullahs and Ahmadinejad in Iran who are thumbing their nose at the world and everybody on uranium enrichment every day with repeated threats to wipe Israel off the map. You've got "the religion of peace," militant Islam, running around conducting terror attacks all over the world. They are involved in what's going on in Darfur where Senator Biden is so eager to get us to go in there and stop the genocide. It is a powder keg, and it's ready to blow. If it blows over there, we're going to have to go in somewhere. I don't care what anybody thinks about this, if something blows up over there... and the fuse is lit. You put somebody in the White House who actually thinks what John Edwards said today at the Council on Foreign Relations, you're going to just encourage that powder keg over there. The Iranians are hell-bent on controlling that region, including Saudi Arabia. That's why we're going to have to go in there. Not because of our love of the Saudis and not because of our love of the United Arab Emirates, where you'll find Dubai -- love saying that word -- we're going to have to make sure that the oil fields in that region do not come totally under the control of militant radical Islamists like Ahmadinejad and bin Laden disciples and so forth.

If the Democrats win the presidency in '08 and whoever it is believes the same thing Edwards is saying here today, within five years what everybody's been saying is going to happen in that region is going to happen. It's going to go sky high because the Iranians, somebody is going to get the impression, that if these guys win we're not going to stop 'em. There's no global war on terror, Bush, all he wants to do is torture people. Believe me, the Iranians tried to engineer as best they could supporting Democrats in the last election. So were Al-Qaeda types, al-Zawahiri. They know full well what they're getting in the Democrats and they know full well what they're getting when they get Democrats and their buddies in the Drive-By Media. They're getting a bunch of isolationists. They're getting a bunch of people who don't think that there's any problem over there, other than that problem created by Bush, and once we've got Bush out of the equation, it's going to be peace and light. They're just waiting for that because they'll fall for the notion that we won't do anything, and we will have to do something, I don't care who's in the White House, we will have to do something, and it will dwarf what's happening in Iraq. "
Rush Limaugh
And I think he got it right, what we need is a the most liberal Democrat we can think of in office. That way the "enemy" will feel like they have the upper hand and strike, of course showing their hand for all to see. That way we, and I mean "WE" as a people, the people of the free world will see just what a dangerous enemy we are facing and stand up in one united stand and fight back as hard as we can.

And I mean really fight back, not like the bumper sticker war on terror that Bush is waging, I mean a real war with all our might and directed at the true enemy. Then of course we will win the war and get on with life in the free world.

So too that end, I am today officially endorsing Dennis Kucinich for president.

Death to the infidels!


"We said goodbye to Gator recently, after over four months of working together. Gator is the nickname Marines affectionately give their Amphibious Assault Vehicles- the 23-ton tracks that accompanied us on so many missions through Iraq. Our Gators were the men of Co. B, 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion. Gator was the first Marine unit that most of us had ever worked with directly, and I doubt we'll soon see one better."
Acute Politics
I posted this blog, but I am not sure if this other one is better or not. You make the Call