Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam hanged in Iraq

Saddam hanged in Iraq - 29 Dec 2006 at 10:17pm - The US-backed Iraqi television station Al Hurra says former president Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging shortly before 6:00am local time (2pm AEDT) today.

Too Little, Too Late?

U.S. military to press for more training of Iraqis - 29 Dec 2006 at 11:39am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon will press for intensive training of Iraqi forces, not an overhaul of tactics or strategy, as it seeks a solution for a war the United States is not winning, defense officials said.
That sounds good, but why didn't they press for intensive training three years ago? Is this the Gates influence at work? As I recall, back in 2003 Germany offered to help train Iraqi security forces; has Iraq taken advantage of that opportunity?

Disputed Florida election to spill onto House floor - 29 Dec 2006 at 2:52pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A disputed election result in a House of Representatives race in Florida will be one of the first items raised when the Democratic-controlled House convenes next week, injecting partisan politics into the start of the 110th Congress.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

In the News: Dec-28

Bush's New Year's resolution: Keep troops safe - 28 Dec 2006 at 2:40pm - President George W. Bush wants more consultation with Congress and the Iraqis before "coming to closure" on a plan for Iraq, he told reporters outside his Texas ranch on Thursday.
"Consultation" = rubber-stamping?

Ford: Reasons For Iraq War 'A Big Mistake' - 28 Dec 2006 at 9:00am - In a now released interview from 2004 with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, Former President Gerald R. Ford said he "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's reasons for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives.

Feds apologize for woman's strip search - 28 Dec 2006 at 12:24pm - TAMPA, Fla. -- The Homeland Security Department sent a letter apologizing to a Muslim woman who was detained at the Tampa airport and strip searched at a county jail.

Dems likely to resurrect detainee issue - 28 Dec 2006 at 2:15pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats plan to use their newfound power to revisit one of the most contentious national security matters of 2006: Deciding what legal rights must be protected for detainees held in the war on terrorism.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

In the News - Dec-22

Ex-officials: Article wrongly classifed - 22 Dec 2006 at 12:59pm - WASHINGTON -- The White House demanded the excision of material for an article on Iranian-American relations for political - not security - reasons, two former government officials allege.

Iraq town has little faith in U.S. trial of Marines - 22 Dec 2006 at 11:04am - HADITHA, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqis in Haditha, where 24 unarmed civilians were killed last year, said on Friday four U.S. Marines charged with their murder should be executed, a penalty they will not face in the United States.

Lawmakers press Bush to put war costs in budget - 22 Dec 2006 at 2:18pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top lawmakers are pressing President George W. Bush to stop using a "shadow budget" to fund the Iraq war and instead list the expected costs in the 2008 spending plan he is set to unveil early next year.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Those Pesky Insurgents

AP: Pentagon wants $99.7B more for wars - 20 Dec 2006 at 2:50pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon wants the White House to seek another $99.7 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to information provided to The Associated Press.
$99.7 billion for one last push: good deal?

Gates Gets Firsthand View Of Iraq - 20 Dec 2006 at 9:02am - In a surprise trip just days after being sworn into office, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Baghdad to seek advice from top military commanders on shaping a new U.S. strategy for the war in Iraq.
Surprise? Didn't Gates say just Monday that he was planning to visit Baghdad as soon as possible to consult with military leaders there?

Bush: U.S. needs to increase army size - 20 Dec 2006 at 10:28am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush says the U.S. needs to increase the size of Army and Marines, and says strategy and tactics in Iraq will change to meet the situation on the ground. Bush also said Wednesday that insurgents in Iraq thwarted U.S. efforts at "establishing security and stability throughout the country" in 2006.
The insurgents probably think Bush is thwarting their efforts at establishing security, too.

U.S. forces say seize a top al Qaeda leader in Iraq - 20 Dec 2006 at 11:27am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces have captured a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader accused of killing hundreds of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, the U.S. military said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Buildup Déjà Vu

U.S. Plans Military Buildup To Warn Iran - 19 Dec 2006 at 9:59am - CBS News reports the Pentagon is considering a military buildup in the Persian Gulf after the first of the year as a warning to the Iranian government. The plan would include adding a second aircraft carrier to the one already in the Gulf.
Recall that after U.S. troop buildups around Iraq in 2003 for "warning" purposes, one of the arguments for invading was that an enormous investment had already been made to move all the troops and equipment there, and it would be a waste of that investment not to proceed with the invasion.

Hicks denied mental health assessment - 18 Dec 2006 at 4:18pm - An Australian forensic psychiatrist has been refused access to Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks to assess his mental health.

Pentagon Report Cites Growing Number of Attacks - 19 Dec 2006 at 9:02am - The Pentagon has released its latest report on security conditions in Iraq, and the assessment is grim. The report says attacks in Iraq have increased 22 percent since the summer. It also says a Shiite militia group has replaced al-Qaida in Iraq as the main cause for concern.

White House, Joint chiefs split on more troops - 19 Dec 2006 at 9:36am - The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.

White House: No fight with Joint Chiefs - 19 Dec 2006 at 10:33am - WASHINGTON -- The White House said Tuesday that increasing U.S. troops in Iraq is an option under consideration and denied that there are differences with the Joint Chiefs of Staff over that idea.

Iraq on brink of collapse: report - 19 Dec 2006 at 12:24pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq is on the brink of total disintegration and could drag its neighbors into a regional war, a leading think-tank said, after the Pentagon confirmed violence was at an all-time high. The warning from the International Crisis Group came amid lawless chaos in Baghdad, where police were hunting for 16 kidnapped aid workers and a former minister who escaped from jail, allegedly with the help of US hired guns. The ICG's report called on Washington to distance itself from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's beleaguered government, which has failed to tackle sectarian militias, and reach out to the United States' arch-foes Iran and Syria.

Brownback wants to re-question nominee - 19 Dec 2006 at 1:44pm - DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Sen. Sam Brownback, who wants to champion social conservatives in the presidential race, said Tuesday he wants a Senate panel to re-question a judicial nominee who attended a same-sex union ceremony.

U.S. to weed out Iraqi militia loyalists - 19 Dec 2006 at 3:10pm - WASHINGTON -- Efforts are under way to weed out up to a quarter of Iraq's national police who are believed sympathetic to militias involved in sectarian violence, a key U.S. general said.

Defense in CIA leak case to call Cheney to testify - 19 Dec 2006 at 3:02pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The defense will call Vice President Dick Cheney to testify at former top White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby's perjury trial in the CIA leak case, a lawyer said on Tuesday.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Not Absolutely Winning

Gates: Iraq failure would be 'calamity' - 18 Dec 2006 at 2:11pm - WASHINGTON -- Robert Gates assumed the helm at the Pentagon on Monday, saying Iraq is his top priority and warning that failure there would be a "calamity" that would haunt the United States for many years.
"Would be" a calamity? It isn't already?

White House backs off Bush's Iraq view - 18 Dec 2006 at 2:04pm - WASHINGTON -- The White House took a step back Monday from President Bush's confident assertion two months ago that "absolutely, we're winning" the war in Iraq.
How about stepping back from the fantasy that there remains anything to be won militarily?

Powell casts doubt on troop increase - 18 Dec 2006 at 1:30pm - WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is casting doubt on a plan under consideration by President Bush that would increase troops in Iraq, calling the U.S. Army overextended and "about broken."
Powell is sounding remarkably Murtha-like. I wonder if he's aware what a radical far-lefty he's become.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

In the News: Dec-14

Pelosi announces intelligence plans - 14 Dec 2006 at 11:19am - WASHINGTON -- Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she will create a new congressional panel to examine the administration's intelligence budget and to make sure the money is being spent properly.

Army chief seeks more forces, reserves - 14 Dec 2006 at 1:15pm - WASHINGTON -- As President Bush weighs new strategies for Iraq, the Army's top general warned Thursday that his force "will break" without thousands more active duty troops and greater use of the reserves.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Agony Of Defeat

Bush: I won't be rushed on Iraq - 13 Dec 2006 at 2:57pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush has defended his delaying an announcement of a new Iraq war strategy, saying "I'm not going to be rushed."
Take your time. It's only your subjects dying, every day; what's the rush?

President Bush said Wednesday he would "not be rushed" into a decision on a strategy change for Iraq, saying that in a round of consultations he heard both some interesting ideas and some "ideas that would lead to defeat."

"And I reject those ideas," Bush said after meeting with top generals and Defense Department officials at the Pentagon. He said those ideas included "leaving before the job is done, ideas such as not helping this (Iraqi) government take the necessary and hard steps to be able to do its job."
Isn't defeat pretty much a foregone conclusion by now? What sort of victory could he still be hoping for?

Rumsfeld, Gates both having say on Iraq - 13 Dec 2006 at 2:35pm - WASHINGTON -- To fix the United States' flagging military campaign in Iraq, are two defense secretaries better than one? President Bush has been meeting with both outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and incoming Secretary Robert Gates as he considers a change in Iraq policy.

Downer warns against 'disastrous' Iraq withdrawal - 12 Dec 2006 at 4:07pm - Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has told the United States a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be disastrous.

Report: Saudis Warn Against Iraq Exit - 13 Dec 2006 at 7:15am - Saudi Arabia has warned Washington it might provide financial aid to Iraqi Sunnis in any fighting against Shiites if the U.S. pulls its troops out of Iraq, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A New War For a New Year

Bush to announce Iraq plan in January - 12 Dec 2006 at 3:13pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Tuesday put off until early next month announcing a new approach to the Iraq war. "It only makes sense for the president to take whatever time he needs to have confidence in the course that he will put forward before the American people," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Bush gets briefing from Iraq - 12 Dec 2006 at 10:21am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush conferred via videoconference Tuesday with senior military commanders in Iraq, one piece of a rushed weeklong effort to arrive at a new course for the unpopular war.
Is anyone convinced that Bush is looking so much for a new course in the war as for how merely to give the appearance of taking a new course?

WP: Experts tell Bush not to cut troops - 12 Dec 2006 at 9:11am - President Bush heard a blunt and dismal assessment of his handling of Iraq from a group of military experts Monday, but the advisers shared the White House's skeptical view of the recommendations made last week by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, sources said.

Baghdad suicide bombs kill at least 60 - 12 Dec 2006 at 10:18am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - A pair of suicide car bombs has killed at least 60 people, mostly Shiite casual labourers, in downtown Baghdad as Iraq's divided government struggled to deal with the escalating violence.

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Monday, December 11, 2006


Bush says Iraq's neighbors need to help - 11 Dec 2006 at 1:25pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Facing strong pressure to shift course in Iraq, President George W. Bush said in a veiled message to Iran and Syria on Monday that Iraq's neighbors need to help Baghdad's struggling government survive.
Is Bush threatening Iran and Syria, or offering them some kind of inducement? Or, if neither, doesn't he think Iran and Syria can make up their own minds about what level of assistance they wish to provide to Iraq?

Annan criticizes U.S. in farewell speech - 11 Dec 2006 at 10:15am - INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his farewell address, criticized the Bush administration, warning that America must not sacrifice its Democratic ideals while waging war against terrorism.

Judge settles fight over classified info - 11 Dec 2006 at 1:06pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge all but resolved the protracted legal fight over classified information in the CIA leak case Monday, helping ensure the dispute would not derail former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's perjury and obstruction trial.

U.S. denies bid to oust al-Maliki - 11 Dec 2006 at 1:56pm - The White House is flatly denying a report that key Shiite leaders are maneuvering to oust Iraq's prime minister.

Bush Seeks More Advice On Iraq - 11 Dec 2006 at 1:30pm - President Bush met with top officials at the State Department as he began another week of strategy sessions on the Iraq war. The White House backed away from earlier indications that Mr. Bush would unveil his new plan for Iraq before Christmas.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

There'll Still Be a Presence

Via Matt Stoller and Huffington Post (and the Washington Post), this info regarding the training of Iraqi security forces:

Pulling out combat units would not mean the end of the U.S. military involvement in Iraq, which could continue in a different form for years. The withdrawal would be partially offset by an influx of advisers, trainers and embedded troops. The number of such troops now stands at roughly 5,000 and should be quadrupled to about 20,000, the group's plan says, according to a source. The commission envisions leaving at least several thousand quick-strike U.S. combat soldiers to protect all those other American troops.

Although it was not clear how many U.S. troops would be left in Iraq by 2008, some people knowledgeable about the commission's deliberations have said that it might be possible to reduce the force of 140,000 to half by then. "There'll still be a presence there that will be significant just because of the nature of embedded forces," said one of the sources familiar with the commission's report. "It won't be what we have now, I'll tell you that."

So out of 140,000 currently in Iraq, only 5,000 are working toward the milestone George Bush has identified as the trigger for redeployment: Iraqi military readiness. What does that say about the Bush administration's priorities? It seems we're still (and would remain, even after this proposed major realignment) focused much more on the eradication of undesirable elements than on the integration of all Iraqi people into a functioning democratic state.

Leahy: Terror screening oversight a must - 1 Dec 2006 at 2:54pm - WASHINGTON -- The incoming Senate Judiciary chairman pledged greater scrutiny Friday of computerized government anti-terrorism screening after learning that millions of Americans who travel internationally have been assigned risk assessments over the last four years without their knowledge.

U.S. commander: Iraq transfer under way - 1 Dec 2006 at 11:34am - WASHINGTON -- The commander of coalition forces in northern Iraq said Friday that four Iraqi army divisions in his area will be put under Baghdad's control by next March, just the kind of transfer that a U.S. study commission reportedly is ready to embrace.

Bush to hold talks with Iraqi leaders - 1 Dec 2006 at 1:06pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush will meet with one of Iraq's most powerful Shiite politicians on Monday in a continued bid to find a new approach to ending sectarian violence that is pulling at the seams of the nation. Then, in January, the president will meet with the Sunni vice president of Iraq, a senior administration official said Friday.
Talking, rather than shooting? Is this the Baker influence at work?

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