By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG Published: November 30, 2006
AMMAN, Jordan, Nov. 30 — President Bush today proclaimed Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki "the right guy for Iraq," and said the two had agreed to speed the turnover of security responsibility from American to Iraqi forces. But Mr. Bush dismissed a reported decision by an independent bipartisan panel to call for a gradual withdrawal of troops. ...............................
"I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq," the president said during a joint news conference with Mr. Maliki, referring to the panel's reports that are expected next week. "We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there."
Mr. Bush also said he and Mr. Maliki would oppose any plan to break up the country, which is riven by sectarian violence. The two appeared together after an hourlong breakfast meeting with aides at the Four Seasons Hotel here that was followed by a 45-minute one-on-one session.
"The prime minister made clear that splitting his country into parts, as some have suggested, is not what the Iraqi people want, and that any partition in Iraq would only lead to an increase of sectarian violence," Mr. Bush said, adding, "I agree."
The two leaders set no timetable for speeding up the training of Iraqi forces, which Mr. Bush described as evolving "from ground zero," and a senior administration official, who attended the breakfast and was granted anonymity to discuss it, said hurdles remain.
"This is not a simple process of passing the baton," the official said, adding, "This is not the United States and Iraq struggling for control of the steering wheel. This is the United States wanting Iraq to be firmly with the steering wheel in its hand, and the issue is, how do we get there as quickly as possible."
What happens, if after Congress has hearings, the ISG issues their report and Bush says no.
What happens, as US forces get attacked by all sides and the roads seized, if Bush says no to ANY changes. Because, right now, 150K servicemembers are relying on James Baker smacking the president into common sense. Because, right now, he's going to go down to the bitter end with other people's lives.
Do we really have to wait for the Mahdi Army to seize the government?
This is the Green Zone. If there is any sort of military action there, evacuation will be hard, if not impossible to accomplish, party because of the concentration of people and bodies. The main evacuation route to Baghdad Airport is a long, isolated highway the US calls Route Irish.
It is the most dangerous road in the world, and to travel it escorted is $3-5000 one way.
This is the route from the Green Zone to the airport. It doesn't seem far, but hundreds of people have died along it's length. Imagine trying to move the US infrastructure in Iraq with our Iraqi allies alone this highway
This is a close up of Route Irish. The red areas are open ground where the guerrillas have staged attacks for three years. In an evacuation by ground, the US military would have to move to the airport under fire.
Here's the point. Yes, the US can do a fighting retreat, but the complications of it are frightening. Look at the topography and you see a hundred ambush points.
Now there's talk of the US going after Sadr.
Jesus, look at the map. He can sit inside Sadr City forever. But it's three years too late anyway. They tried in 2004 and all hell broke loose. Now? We need to talk to him, not try to kill him so that all the Iraqis can fight us.
The Green Zone is a shitty place to defend, with it's back against the river and few open landing areas, tons of civilians and the security staffed with Shias. It's also a shitty place to attack for the few access points available. But once in, stopping an attack, especially with inside help, could turn this into Peking 1900 with no relief force on the way.
All these maps should show that a fighting retreat is a really, really bad idea.
Certain hard-partying patrons of Chelsea nightspot Bungalow 8 received the shock of their lives Monday when they awoke to find photos of Mike Oliver—the NYPD officer who squeezed off 31 of the 50 shots fired at a carful of unarmed men in Queens last weekend—splashed across the city's tabloids. For the past year, the 35-year-old detective has been a four-night-a-week regular at the Olsen twin-heavy haunt, where he is known to the late-night crowd as "Undercover Mike."
"Everyone there was freaking the fuck out when they saw the Post," says a Bungalow insider. "It was like, 'Holy shit, that's Undercover Mike!'"
Oliver, according to multiple sources, began frequenting the club on a regular basis sometime last winter—whether in the course of his duties as an undercover officer or on his own time was never quite clear. "Sometimes he'd come alone, and sometimes with a young lady, always in plainclothes and always with a gun on him," says another source, who knows Oliver casually from his visits to the club. "The door guys all knew he was a narc and would tell people that, but they had to let him in. We never knew if he was on duty or off."
Not that Oliver made trouble for Bungalow's patrons—far from it. To all appearances, sources say, he was a regular customer, partaking in all of the nocturnal activities of his fellow revelers. "He was really friendly with the staff and all the regulars, and hit on girls like every other guy there," says the Bungalow insider. "He'd have one drink and nurse it all night but talk about how wasted he was. It was clear to everyone who knew him that he was doing more than just drinking."
Ok, so if this story is corroborated, you have an armed, coke sniffing cop using his badge to get into a club he had no business in on duty. Who then unleashes 31 rounds into a car. His credibility as a witness will turn to shit. As will their defense.
Kelly should understand that all hell will break loose when this makes the papers.
Maybe he was acting, but four nights a week and no arrests from the club. And when they call you "Undercover Mike", how can you be undercover. It's like that episode of the Simpsons when Homer wears his snitch hat in the Frank Gehry designed jail.
This is going to break out and when it does, even an asshat like Sliwa, so despised, the Mafia got away with shooting him, is going to be silent. But I can assure you Sharpton, Barron, the family and the Black radio in New York will not be.
You know, it's been a fun three years watching you guys spout nonsense about Iraq. All you cheetos eating slobs. You haven't been right about one fucking thing since 2003 and you need to stop. We're not playing Risk.
But you need to shut the fuck up because you don't know what you're talking about. This is a time for sober discussion and not your vapid cheerleading.
I know it may not be the end that you want, but the war in Iraq is not only lost, but could be the greatest military disaster since Chosin. You may have gotten away with bullying people in the past, but the reality of Bush's war is coming home.
Yesterday, we detailed criticism by a number of right-wing bloggers of the Associated Press's reporting from Iraq. The criticism focused on a story about Shiites burning six Sunni worshippers alive in Baghdad. CENTCOM issued a press release disputing the legitimacy of the source of the story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, and asking for a retraction or correction if the organization did not have "a credible source" behind it's reporting.
That report came last night. Here's a portion:
Seeking further information about Friday's attack, an AP reporter contacted Hussein for a third time about the incident to confirm there was no error. The captain has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions. The captain, who gave his full name as Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, said six people were indeed set on fire.
On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack. Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened.
Those who would talk said the assault began about 2:15 p.m., and they believed the attackers were from the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He and the Shiite militia are deeply rooted in and control the Sadr City enclave in northeastern Baghdad where suspected Sunni insurgents attacked with a series of car bombs and mortar shells, killing at least 215 people a day before.
The witnesses refused to allow the use of their names because they feared retribution either from the original attackers or the police, whose ranks are infiltrated by Mahdi Army members or its associated death squads.
Two of the witnesses — a 45-year-old bookshop owner and a 48-year-old neighborhood grocery owner — gave nearly identical accounts of what happened. A third, a physician, said he saw the attack on the mosque from his home, saw it burning and heard people in the streets screaming that people had been set on fire. All three men are Sunni Muslims. ....................................
The message between the lines in all this is that the AP believes the government is going to be more aggressive in challenging the press – even when they don't have the goods to back it up, as the AP believes is the case here. "I have infinitely more faith in the U.S. military than in the Associated Press, but that doesn't mean the military is always right or the AP always wrong," writes Powerline. "It seems that the AP believes it is in a strong position. I'm tempted to say that one institution or the other must emerge from this affair with its credibility damaged." This could be one fight that's just beginning.
Well, Powerline are idiots, because CENTCOM lies like a junkie. They lie about everything when they can, from hillbilly armor to suicides and nothing they say can or should be trusted.
What these mental children need to realize is that Bush has launched this country into a disaster and pretending Iraq is not an insane charnel house is a disservice to anyone with a brain. Yes, they burned people alive. Because they wanted them to suffer.
Your childlike worship of Bush was amusing when it didn't matter, but now, it's time for you to let the adults explain to you what a mess your cheerleading help create. Not that any of you deigned to actually serve, you were too good for that, for raising money for soldiers needs or discussing veterans.
So now, as we watch this play out, your silly, infantile, parsing or as you call it, fisking, comments don't fucking matter. You have no credibility left, the GOP has no credibility left, and the president has no credibility left.
FEMA has to restore housing assistance and pay back rent to thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees who had been deemed ineligible for long-term housing assistance, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, wrote that the agency also had to improve an appeals process that evacuees had long said was confusing, contradictory and amounted to an arbitrary denial of help.
“It is unfortunate, if not incredible, that FEMA and its counsel could not devise a sufficient notice system to spare these beleaguered evacuees the added burden of federal litigation to vindicate their constitutional rights,” Judge Leon wrote.
The suit was brought by Acorn, a housing advocacy group that runs the Katrina Survivors Association. Michael Kirkpatrick, a lawyer with Public Citizen who represented Acorn, said that as many as 11,000 families could be affected based on numbers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided in court papers.
A spokesman for the agency, Aaron Walker, said it had not decided whether to seek a stay of the decision.
Last spring, the agency began notifying thousands of families given emergency shelter that they did not qualify for long-term help with rent and utility payments. That surprised many families who had been given housing vouchers valid for a year.
For months, families who had lost everything struggled to understand why they had been rejected and how to appeal that decision.
In a process that Judge Leon called Kafkaesque, families received notification letters with “reason codes” instead of actual reasons, were given different information each time they called the agency help line or found that the agency had erroneously determined that their house had “insufficient damage” or that someone else in their household (often a roommate) had already applied for assistance.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When computer industry executives heard about a plan to build a $100 laptop for the developing world’s children, they generally ridiculed the idea. How could you build such a computer, they asked, when screens alone cost about $100?
Mary Lou Jepsen, the chief technologist for the project, likes to refer to the insight that transformed the machine from utopian dream to working prototype as “a really wacky idea.”
Ms. Jepsen, a former Intel chip designer, found a way to modify conventional laptop displays, cutting the screen’s manufacturing cost to $40 while reducing its power consumption by more than 80 percent. As a bonus, the display is clearly visible in sunlight. .............................................
Each machine will come with a simple mechanism for recharging itself when a standard power outlet is not available. The designers experimented with a crank, but eventually discarded that idea because it seemed too fragile. Now they have settled on several alternatives, including a foot pedal as well as a hand-pulled device that works like a salad spinner.
Ms. Jepsen’s display, which removes most of the color filters but can operate in either color or monochrome modes, has made it possible to build a computer that consumes just 2 watts of power, compared with the 25 to 45 watts consumed by a conventional laptop. The ultra-low-power operation is possible because of the lack of a hard drive (the laptop uses solid-state memory, which has no moving parts and has fallen sharply in cost) and because the Advanced Micro Devices microprocessor shuts down whenever the computer is not processing information.
The designers have also gambled in designing the laptop’s software, which is based on the freely available Linux operating system, a rival to Microsoft’s Windows. Dispensing with a traditional desktop display, the software substitutes an iconic interface intended to give students a simpler view of their programs and documents and a maplike view of other connected users nearby.
A video-camera lens sits just to the right of the display, for use in videoconferencing and taking digital still photos of reasonable quality. The computer comes with a stripped-down Web browser, a simple word processor and a number of learning programs. For e-mail, the designers intend to use Google’s Web-based Gmail service.
Only one program at a time can be viewed on the laptop because of its small 7.5-inch display.
Mr. Negroponte has been a globetrotting salesman for the project, winning Libya’s participation when he was summoned by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to a meeting in a desert tent on a sweltering August night. But there have also been setbacks. The Indian Education Ministry rejected a proposal to order a million computers, noting that the money could be better spent on primary and secondary education.
Mr. Negroponte said he had been re-energized by the recent arrival of the first 1,000 working prototypes. The prototypes, he said, will give him new ammunition to convince government leaders that his tiny machines can be a positive force for social development. [On a visit to Brazil on Nov. 24, Mr. Negroponte presented one of the prototypes to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.]
He said a program would be created to enable those in the developed world to underwrite a laptop for a child in a designated country and to correspond with the recipient by e-mail as a sort of “glorified pen-pal program.” But however attractive the idea of a $100 or $150 laptop, he said there were no plans to make it generally available to consumers.
“They should buy Dell’s $499 laptop for now,” he said. “Ours is really designed for developing nations — dusty, dirty, no or unreliable power and so on.”
Did anyone ask people in the third world what kind of machine they wanted? No.
Did anyone ask what kind of software they had on hand?
They just want to shower this on the world and have it embraced. Gates has a point, is it what they need in the developing world. I would think addressing basic literacy might be the first point.
Tom Baldwin in Washington and Philip Webster, Political Editor # Damning verdict on one-sided US-UK relations after Iraq # State Department official says Blair is ignored by Bush
In a devastating verdict on Tony Blair’s decision to back war in Iraq and his “totally one-sided” relationship with President Bush, a US State Department official has said that Britain’s role as a bridge between America and Europe is now “disappearing before our eyes”.
Kendall Myers, a senior State Department analyst, disclosed that for all Britain’s attempts to influence US policy in recent years, “we typically ignore them and take no notice — it’s a sad business”.
He added that he felt “a little ashamed” at Mr Bush’s treatment of the Prime Minister, who had invested so much of his political capital in standing shoulder to shoulder with America after 9/11.
Speaking at an academic forum in Washington on Tuesday night, he answered a question from The Times, saying: “It was a done deal from the beginning, it was a onesided relationship that was entered into with open eyes . . . there was nothing. There was no payback, no sense of reciprocity.”
His remarks brought calls from British politicians last night for the special relationship to be rethought, but also attracted scathing criticism from one close supporter of the Prime Minister.
Dr Myers had hard words for his own Administration’s record in the Iraq war: “It’s a bad time, let’s face it. We have not only failed to do what we wanted to do in Iraq but we have greatly strained our relationship with [Britain].”
Dr Myers, a specialist in British politics, predicted that the tight bond between Mr Bush and Mr Blair would not be replicated in the future. “What I think and fear is that Britain will draw back from the US without moving closer to Europe. In that sense London’s bridge is falling down.”
The extraordinarily frank remarks will be seen as further evidence of the long-standing unease felt within some parts of the State Department over the direction of White House policy. They may also be an indication of the weakness of President Bush as he struggles to stop Iraq sliding into civil war and faces a Democrat-dominated Congress elected this month.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “These remarks reflect a real sense of distaste among thinking Americans for Mr Blair’s apparent slavish support for President Bush . . . The special relationship needs to be rebalanced, rethought and renewed.”
But Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham and a former Foreign Office minister, who supported the Iraq war, said: “After the Republican defeat in the midterm election, every little rat who feasted during the Bush years is now leaving the ship. I would respect this gentleman, who I have never heard of, if he had had the guts to make any of these points two or five years ago.”
Mr. MacShane, they made those points years ago, and you didn't hear them. Blair swore he had some kind of pull with Bush, some special relationship, and he was laughing at you behind your back.
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG Published: November 29, 2006
AMMAN, Jordan, Nov. 29 —The first meeting in a scheduled two-day summit between President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq was canceled at the last minute today, against the backdrop of threats by a radical Shiite cleric to boycott the Maliki government and the disclosure of a classified White House memo that was highly critical of Mr. Maliki.
In Amman, there were signs that President Bush would be greeted with a decidedly blunt message.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki still intend to have breakfast together here Thursday morning, and to hold a much-anticipated press conference afterward.
But a joint session planned for this evening with their Jordanian host, King Abdullah II, was abruptly called off while Mr. Bush was in the air, flying to Amman from Riga, Latvia.
Mr. Bush’s counselor, Dan Bartlett, told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One that there was no need for the three-way session, since Mr. Maliki and King Abdullah had already met earlier in the day and Mr. Bush and King Abdullah were planning to have a separate, private dinner together later in the evening.
Mr. Bartlett said the cancellation had nothing to do with disclosure of the classified memo, reported in today’s issue of The New York Times. “No one should read too much into this, except for the fact that they had a good meeting,” Mr. Bartlett said, referring to Mr. Maliki and the king.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, lawmakers and cabinet members loyal to the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr followed through today on a previous threat to boycott the government if Mr. Maliki went to Amman to meet with Mr. Bush. They said in a statement today that they were suspending their participation in both the parliament and the cabinet.
Bush goes to Jordan, indicating some level of crisis in the US-Iraqi relationship, and the Iraqi prime minister refuses to meet with him?
Who refuses to meet with the US president? When he has troops in your country and is keeping your country on life support.
Read the lame excuse a humiliated White House came up with.
BARTLETT: The President is going to have a bilateral and dinner with the King of Jordan. Since the King of Jordan and Prime Minister Maliki had a bilateral themselves, earlier today, everybody believed that negated the purpose for the three of them to meet tonight, together, in a trilateral setting. So the plan, according to — since they had such a good, productive bilateral discussion, was just for the President to deal with bilateral issues and other issues with the King this evening in a dinner setting, and then the meetings set for tomorrow will still take place as scheduled.
Is that clear? No? Ok, here’s more Bartlett:
QUESTION: The King and the Prime Minister had a meeting, but the Prime Minister hasn’t seen the President since he got here, and the President changed his schedule to come here for this meeting.
BARTLETT: The President requested the meeting. This was the President requesting the meeting with the Prime Minister. And the substantive meetings on Iraq — look, they were not going to be doing a full detail discussion in a trilateral setting about Iraq and the future of Iraq and the strategy anyway, that just wouldn’t be appropriate. So it was going to be more of a social meeting anyways. But the fact that they had already had a good meeting together, felt like it negated the purpose to doing so. And the President and Prime Minister Maliki will have a very robust and lengthy dialogue tomorrow morning.
So the President flew to Jordan to have a “social meeting” with Maliki, which Maliki decided not to attend. There’s nothing more to it. That should put all the speculation to rest.
Can we cut the bullshit and admit that Sadr now runs Iraq.
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House [...]
If the exchange with Bush two weeks ago is any indication, Webb won't be a wallflower, especially when it comes to the war in Iraq. And he won't stick to a script drafted by top Democrats.
"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."
In the days after the election, Webb's Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill went out of their way to make nice with Bush and be seen by his side. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat down for a lunch and photo opportunity with Bush, as did Democratic leaders in the Senate.
Not Webb, who said he tried to avoid a confrontation with Bush at the White House reception but did not shy away from one when the president approached.
The Washington Post doesn't include Webb's desire to slug the president. Which was endearing in its own right.
But the article goes on and on about how Webb might be a liability because, well, because he's not a "polished" politician.
If he's a "liability" (inside the DC bubble), it's because Webb has a well-developed bullshit detector (soldiers develop those really quickly) and will call b.s. when he sees it. We saw that about him from day one, and it's one of the reasons the netroots was so gung-ho on drafting him into the race and into his candidacy.
That's what I want in D.C. Not more too-slick, too-polished presidential wannabees who see the Senate as a stepping stone to the White House, thus afraid to show real leadership.
OK, Webb is not some naif from the far west, this is a man with an adroit political sense combined with character. He was one of the most important Secretaries of the Navy in the post-war period and is a Hollywood producer. He knows politics.
But let's be honest. Without George Allen imploding , he'd be writing another book.
The fact is that Webb will probably be better in office than running for it. He isn't too good at making nice with people, which isn't always a bad thing.
But let's not pretend that a Navy Cross -winning, Annapolis grad and former Navy Secretary is somehow unschooled in the ways of Washington or isn't polished enough to succeed. He suceeded in publishing and the movies with people who didn't agree with anything he stood for. This is the same man who opposed Maya Lin making the Vietnam Memorial, yet has an Asian-American wife. So let's stop pretending he's Mr. Smith going to Washington.
His one sin, if it is that, is to say what he thinks, once, it was that women didn't belong in the military. Now, it's time to get his kid home. And unlike George Allen, he has the capacity to grow up.
Webb will be right on some issues, wrong on others, but let's just say he's a smart man with a proven record of character.
Kurdish warlord-turned-politician Talabani may have been US-protected during the days of Saddam Hussein, but quite a few players in the White House and Pentagon axis will have their reasons to regard the summit in Tehran as a pure "axis of evil". As for the helpless Maliki, there's not much for Bush to lecture him about; his days in power may be numbered. According to various and persistent reports, including from Western and Arab networks, a coup d'etat may be in the works in Baghdad: the US in the Green Zone may have enlisted four of Saddam's Sunni Arab generals with the mission of toppling the Shi'ite-majority Maliki government to install a regime of "national salvation". It would then restructure the Shi'ite-dominated ministries of Defense and Interior and finish off Shi'ite militias such as the Badr Organization of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr.
Call it the return of the Ba'athists - minus Saddam. Even before rumors of a coup began circulation, one could see the so-called diplomatic strategists of Baker's ISG coming up with the idea of trying to co-opt the resistance into entering a coalition government.
But that does not mean the plan will work. The US might invest in an Asian-style face-saving operation spun by heavy public relations by getting involved in direct negotiations with the Sunni Arab resistance. But only a Saddam-style dictator is capable of assuring a strong, stable central government in Baghdad in charge of security for everyone, with no discrimination. That would mean alienating the Shi'ite religious parties and their paramilitary factions to the limit. .................................
A web of myth continues to be spun by much of the world's press, according to which Iran, as an overpowering entity, uses the US occupation to crush the Sunni Arab resistance while manipulating Shi'ite militias. This is a two-pronged fallacy. The Pentagon's finest in Iraq are not crushing anything - on the contrary. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has all but installed an Islamic emirate in al-Anbar province, while the Mehdi Army reigns in Kufa, south of Baghdad, and in Sadr City in Baghdad itself.
The 10,000-strong Badr Organization - affiliated with SCIRI - may have been trained by the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, but it does not take any orders from Tehran. As for Muqtada's 7,000-strong Mehdi Army, it is split into at least three different factions (two of them don't even respond to Muqtada anymore). But all of them are opposed to Iranian interference.
..................... Maliki cannot order any kind of crackdown either on the Badr or the Mehdi Army factions. According to the Islamic Party - which has the majority of parliamentarians under the Sunni Concord Front - the police and the army are totally infiltrated by Shi'ite militias. The Sadrists for their part denounce the US "return of the Ba'athists" strategy - and defend the Mehdi Army as patriots who protect Shi'ites from the takfiris (Sunni radicals).
The Maliki government won't go down quietly, though, if judged by its current diplomatic frenzy. The US for its part will accomplish absolutely nothing by trying to take down Muqtada and the Mehdi Army, or even the Badr Organization. If the Pentagon somehow decided to go on an all-out offensive, it would be very easy for SCIRI/Badr - or for Mehdi Army commandos - completely to cut off the US supply route from Kuwait to Baghdad.
What the Shi'ite Islamic parties in power and Tehran agree on is a crucial point: the Sunni Arab resistance must be vanquished. But Muqtada's position is more nuanced: as a true Iraqi nationalist, he does not rule out agreements with Sunni Arabs with the supreme objective of kicking the occupiers out. Meanwhile, the US military will keep being caught in a deadly trap - between the sprawling, underground Sunni Arab resistance and the Shi'ite militias' non-stop rampage.
The fall of the Green Zone Everyone is guilty in the ongoing Iraq tragedy. The US-trained new Iraqi army is infiltrated by militias, by death squads and even by al-Qaeda in Iraq. The SCIRI, Da'wa and the Kurds are only worried about their own interests, not the interests of Iraq as a nation. And the US - always hiding under the dubious mantra of "Iraqi democracy" - totally evades its responsibility in provoking the appalling chaos in the first place.
Militia hell will remain impervious to any summit. Shi'ite clerical leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani may call for restraint. But Sistani does not control the Shi'ite proletarian masses anymore, Muqtada does. The Americans - attacked at least 180 times a day, every day - will keep "controlling" only one piece of real estate in the whole of Mesopotamia (although an extremely valuable one): the Green Zone ................................. The next big step for the Sunni Arab resistance - according to sheikhs of the powerful Shammar Sunni tribe - would be to take out the Badr Organization, holed up in the Ministry of the Interior, and the two most murderous factions of the Mehdi Army. That would mean an Iraqi nationalist purge of the hated "Iranians". And that implies an all-out attack on the Green Zone.
The return of the Ba'athists and the fall of the Green Zone: now that's a prime-time double bill to knock 'em dead.
BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will push for the U.S. military to relinquish control over his nation's security forces when he meets President Bush today to discuss a strategy to quell raging violence in Iraq, aides and political insiders said Tuesday.
Frustrated by U.S. accusations that he isn't doing enough, Maliki says his hands are tied as long as he does not have the authority to deploy forces as he sees fit. He wants Bush to accelerate the training of the army and police, fund more recruits and provide them with bigger and better weapons, lawmakers briefed by Maliki said.
The prime minister also will insist at the two-day summit in Jordan that his government should drive negotiations with Iraq's neighbors, Iran and Syria, they said.
Maliki's emboldened stand comes at a time of uncertainty for U.S. strategy in Iraq. Bush is under pressure to make changes after Democrats swept the midterm congressional election on a wave of unhappiness about the war's results.
I wouldn't considered the Mahdi Army to have a fixed number. I think if Sadr needs 70K bodies, he can get them.
But let's not forget, the US let the Shia die for stability in 1991. The Sunnis might get into the Green Zone, but the Army and police will come to evict them. With an enraged Sadr City behind them. A Baathist government cannot rule, cannot survive. Maliki may be unpopular, but the threat of a Sunni government is so great that the Shia would have to take to the streets armed to protect themselves.
One of the flaws of the Sunnis is that they believe that they are 40 percent of the population. If the US lets them try Diem II, they may find out the hard way they aren't.
(Luis Sinco / LAT) THIS IS WRONG’:Tennie Pierce addresses the Los Angeles City Council with his wife, Brenda, at his side. Standing with him at right are Willis Edwards, a national board member of the NAACP; Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Urban Policy Roundtable; and, at far right, Eddie Jones, president of the L.A. Civil Rights Assn.
By Steve Hymon and Jim Newton, Times Staff Writers November 29, 2006
A torturous debate left the Los Angeles City Council sharply divided by race Tuesday as members weighed whether to restore a settlement offered to a black firefighter whose dinner had been laced with dog food.
For the first time, the council heard directly from Tennie Pierce, the target of the incident, who had filed a discrimination case against the city.
At their lawyer's recommendation, council members initially voted to pay $2.7 million to keep it from going to trial. But last week — amid a storm of public reaction — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the action, setting the stage for Tuesday's council session.
"Whatever anyone says about me, I've always tried to do what's right," said Pierce, holding back tears as his wife sat nearby. "This is wrong. If four black firemen did it to a white fireman, I would stand up [with] the white fireman and say it was wrong."
With a decision expected today, all three black members — Bernard C. Parks, Jan Perry and Herb Wesson — said they would vote to override the veto because the white firefighters who doctored Pierce's spaghetti committed an act that could be viewed as racist and because the city could lose more money in court.
But other members said they had come to view it as a firehouse prank, especially after photos surfaced showing Pierce taking part in hazing rituals banned by a Fire Department that has repeatedly been accused in audits and other lawsuits of subjecting blacks to hostile conditions.
Later, Councilman Greig Smith ardently argued that he believed the dog food incident was serious but not racist.
"It is wrong, it is abusive, it is dehumanizing to all races and not just African Americans," Smith said. "I'm sorry, sir. The question here today is do we pay Mr. Pierce for his charge of racism or look at it for what it is."
Councilman Parks told Pierce that his comments had "brought tears to my eyes."
Parks said he had recently spoken on "The John & Ken Show" on KFI-AM (640), whose hosts have been prominent in fighting the settlement, and "I had the great pleasure of them hanging up on me.
"I said [to them], 'When's the last time that you ate dog food?' "
Pierce suggested to the council that the pranks he participated in were good-natured and said that, when they were over, "people would hug the person and take pictures with them. What they did to me at the Fire Station 5 was wrong because it was something I did not know. My mother worked three jobs to get me where I am today. At no time did she ever feed us dog food."
Pierce said that what bothered him most was that white firefighters watched him eat. And, when he complained, the Fire Department didn't help.
Are they kidding? You really think a federal trial jury won't find this racist? Feeding him dog food, and trying to write it off as a prank?
When they get to bring in racist acts within the department? LA is getting a bargain. You can't do this in New York. The City doesn't place settlements up for a vote. I think when the price is not only losing in LA County, but probably a much larger settlement they will have to pay, this is the cheaper and smarter solution.
IT happens at coffee bars. It happens at cheese counters. But most of all, it happens at bars and restaurants. Pregnant women are slow-moving targets for strangers who judge what we eat — and, especially, drink.
What amount? Signs bear a warning that some women choose to ignore.
“Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than a pregnant woman sitting at the bar,” said Brianna Walker, a bartender in Los Angeles. “The other customers can’t take their eyes off her.”
Drinking during pregnancy quickly became taboo in the United States after 1981, when the Surgeon General began warning women about the dangers of alcohol. The warnings came after researchers at the University of Washington identified Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a group of physical and mental birth defects caused by alcohol consumption, in 1973. In its recommendations, the government does not distinguish between heavy drinking and the occasional beer: all alcohol poses an unacceptable risk, it says.
So those of us who drink, even occasionally, during pregnancy face unanswerable questions, like why would anyone risk the health of a child for a passing pleasure like a beer?
“It comes down to this: I just don’t buy it,” said Holly Masur, a mother of two in Deerfield, Ill., who often had half a glass of wine with dinner during her pregnancies, based on advice from both her mother and her obstetrician. “How can a few sips of wine be dangerous when women used to drink martinis and smoke all through their pregnancies?”
Many American obstetricians, skeptical about the need for total abstinence, quietly tell their patients that an occasional beer or glass of wine — no hard liquor — is fine.
“If a patient tells me that she’s drinking two or three glasses of wine a week, I am personally comfortable with that after the first trimester,” said Dr. Austin Chen, an obstetrician in TriBeCa. “But technically I am sticking my neck out by saying so.”
Americans’ complicated relationship with food and drink — in which everything desirable is also potentially dangerous — only becomes magnified in pregnancy.
When I was pregnant with my first child in 2001 there was so much conflicting information that doubt became a reflexive response. Why was tea allowed but not coffee? How could all “soft cheeses” be forbidden if cream cheese was recommended? What were the real risks of having a glass of wine on my birthday?
Pregnant women are told that danger lurks everywhere: listeria in soft cheese, mercury in canned tuna, salmonella in fresh-squeezed orange juice. Our responsibility for minimizing risk through perfect behavior feels vast.
Eventually, instead of automatically following every rule, I began looking for proof.
Proof, it turns out, is hard to come by when it comes to “moderate” or “occasional” drinking during pregnancy. Standard definitions, clinical trials and long-range studies simply do not exist
What happens if you're not honest about your drinking and get hammered?
Let me put it this way, if you're working class and someone sees you drinking while pregnant, you could lose your kids.
By Thomas E. Ricks and Robin Wright Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, November 29, 2006; Page A01
From troops on the ground to members of Congress, Americans increasingly blame the continuing violence and destruction in Iraq on the people most affected by it: the Iraqis.
Even Democrats who have criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the occupation say the people and government of Iraq are not doing enough to rebuild their society. The White House is putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group have debated how much to blame Iraqis for not performing civic duties.
This marks a shift in tone from earlier debate about the responsibility of the United States to restore order after the 2003 invasion, and it seemed to gain currency in October, when sectarian violence surged. Some see the talk of blame as the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement.
"It is the first manifestation of a 'Who lost Iraq?' argument that will likely rage for years to come," said Bruce Hoffman, a Georgetown University expert on terrorism who has worked as a U.S. government consultant in Iraq.
"I'm tired of nit-picking over how we should bully the Iraqis into becoming better citizens of their own country," former CIA Middle East expert Ray Close wrote in an e-mail to the other advisers to the study group.
Several other experts of various political stripes said this tendency to dump on Baghdad feels like a preamble to withdrawal.
"It's their fault, and by implication not ours, is clearly a theme that's in the air," said retired Army Col. Andrew J. Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran and longtime skeptic of the war in Iraq. It reminds him, he said, of the sour last days of the Vietnam War, when "there was a tendency to blame everything on the 'gooks' -- meaning our South Vietnamese allies who had disappointed us."
"People never understood the culture and the challenges that we faced in trying to build a new Iraq," a senior U.S. intelligence official said. "There's incredible frustration . . . but it also shows a great deal of ignorance."
Anyone with a good history book, and not a total cretin like Ken Pollack, would have known the end game in Iraq meant a Shia state allied with Iran.
Only in Bush's fantasy world did Iraqis share our interests. In reality, they wanted a Shia state and we paved the way for it.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 — A classified memorandum by President Bush’s national security adviser expressed serious doubts about whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had the capacity to control the sectarian violence in Iraq and recommended that the United States take new steps to strengthen the Iraqi leader’s position.
The Nov. 8 memo was prepared for Mr. Bush and his top deputies by Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and senior aides on the staff of the National Security Council after a trip by Mr. Hadley to Baghdad.
The memo suggests that if Mr. Maliki fails to carry out a series of specified steps, it may ultimately be necessary to press him to reconfigure his parliamentary bloc, a step the United States could support by providing “monetary support to moderate groups,” and by sending thousands of additional American troops to Baghdad to make up for what the document suggests is a current shortage of Iraqi forces. (Text of Memo)
The memo presents an unvarnished portrait of Mr. Maliki and notes that he relies for some of his political support on leaders of more extreme Shiite groups. The five-page document, classified secret, is based in part on a one-on-one meeting between Mr. Hadley and Mr. Maliki on Oct. 30.
“His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change,” the memo said of the Iraqi leader. “But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action.”
An administration official made a copy of the document available to a New York Times reporter seeking information on the administration’s policy review. The Times read and transcribed the memo.
The White House has sought to avoid public criticism of Mr. Maliki, who is scheduled to meet with Mr. Bush in Jordan on Wednesday. The latest surge of sectarian violence in Baghdad and the Democratic victories in the midterm elections are prompting calls for sharp changes in American policy. Such changes are among options being debated by the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan panel led by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton.
A senior administration official discussed the memorandum in general terms after being told The New York Times was preparing an article on the subject. The official described the document as “essentially a trip report” and not a result of the administration’s review of its Iraq policy, which is still under way.
He said the purpose of the memo “was to provide a snapshot of the challenges facing Prime Minister Maliki and how we can best enhance his capabilities, mindful of the complex political and security environment in which he is operating.”
The American delegation that went to Iraq with Mr. Hadley included Meghan L. O’Sullivan, the deputy national security adviser, and three other members of the National Security Council staff. The memo, prepared after that trip, has been circulated to cabinet-level officials who are participating in the administration’s review of Iraq strategy.
There is nothing in the memo that suggests the Bush administration is interested in replacing Mr. Maliki as prime minister. But while Mr. Bush has stated that he has confidence in the Iraqi leader, the memo questions whether Mr. Maliki has the will and ability to establish a genuine unity government, saying the answer will emerge from actions he takes in the weeks and months ahead.
“We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others,” the memo says. “Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.”
In describing the Oct. 30 meeting between Mr. Hadley and Mr. Maliki, it says: “Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so.” It said the Iraqi leader’s assurances seemed to have been contradicted by developments on the ground, including the Iraqi government’s approach to the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia known in Arabic as Jaish al-Mahdi and headed by Moktada al-Sadr.
“Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister’s office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq’s most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries — when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) killings — all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.”
Among the concerns voiced in the memo was that Mr. Maliki was surrounded by a small group of advisers from the Shiite Dawa Party, a narrow circle that American officials worry may skew the information he receives.
The last paragraph is fucking hillarious. Maliki has a small circle of advisors? What about Bush. Jesus fucking Christ. It's a 50-50 bet he shows up to meet Bush today. And if he does, he may not be able to go home.
All these educated people are as smart as a donkey. A newborn, mentally disabled donkey.
Why would a member of the Dawa Party want to create a Shia-dominated Iraq?
No clue, other than that's been their goal for 40 years.
Are these people making foriegn policy or are the biggest rubes on the planet?
Ok, let's take a look at the highway south of Baghdad.
The green line is the north south road, the blue, the east west road.
The red is the areas directly lining the road and the pink are areas indirect fire weapons can be shot from.
Now, let's say you have a convoy of a couple of hundred vehicles and you start taking fire.
So you call for the fast movers and you get an A-10. Lucky you.
So you set up the coordinates, make sure he knows you're on the highway, and call him out. He makes his gun run with that big cannon of his, everything around you on fire.
And then five minutes later, the mortars start up again and you don't see anything other than a couple of helicopters for the next five hours.
Because air support is like money, everybody wants some, but it is a finite resource. So, people think, yes, the US will do what it takes to get everyone home in a fighting retreat, but they can't carpet bomb their way home. The people they may be fighting can hide from bombs and bullets.
If there is a fighting retreat from Iraq, there will be more targets than the AF/Navy/Marines can handle.
No matter how many Air Tasking Orders are written, no matter how many CCT's are calling in strikes, they won't have enough, and they may face serious AAA opposition. All those guns sitting in depots captured after the invasion didn't go anywhere.
A recent IED attack has surfaced an ugly truth -- the Grunts doing the great majority of fighting and dying in Iraq are considered "more expendable" than their REMF comrades, and the people making this determination are themselves, you guessed it, REMF's!!
(Now, before I get a couple hundred emails protesting my use of "REMF's as disparaging of some of our military who are themselves at risk, let me make this point. There is "risk" back in an FOB, no question. Is it the same risk as those who work outside the FOB? Don't think so. Is risk outside the FOB spread evenly? No -- go to one of the infantry companies in Ramadi, or Fallujah, and then compare that risk with someone running convoys between Ramadi and Baghdad. Not the same, but one hell of a lot more than someone back in the TOC at the FOB. And, I fully appreciate the risk faced by our Combat Engineers as they clear roads, and our EOD studs as they deal with IED's/EFP's. A special salute to our Combat Medics/Corpsmen out in the killings fields while I'm at it. And, the drivers who haul ass through IED Avenue -- you've damn sure got my respect!! But,bottom line -- if I've offended anyone who has dodged the occasional mortar shell in route to Burger King, or who has to make do with a 36-inch plasma tv while others, in the Green Zone in Baghdad have 42-inch sets, then I don't apologize. If you want me to place you in the same category as The Grunts, change MOS's! Until then, have the intellectual honesty to admit that REMF's are not deserving of the same respect given to Hack's "Warriors," even if you get the same "Imminent Danger Pay." Let me make it clear that while I respect all who serve our great nation, I am not blind to the reality that not all who serve, share the same threat of death, or of crippling or maiming wounds. And, as to who is a REMF, and who is not -- it's between you and your conscience. If the "shoe" fits, wear it.)
So, imagine this scenario -- you and your buddies have finished another day of training Iraqi troops and are headed back to your FOB (Forward Operating Base) when an especially nasty IED (in the form of EFP, an "Explosively Formed Projectile") explodes into the lead Humvee in your column of three.
The blast is strong enough to flip the Humvee into the air, landing in a ditch on it's top.
Here's what happened, in the words of America's Grunts who where there.
To: Soldiers For the Truth
From: The NCOs of the 4th INP Brigade SPTT Team
The 4/1 SPPT Team was traveling back from Salman Pak to Camp Rustamiyah along EFP alley (RTE Pluto South) on Sunday May 14th about 5:15pm in a 3 vehicle convoy. About 3 miles from Camp Rustamiyah, the first Humvee was hit by a massive roadside bomb called an EFP. The bomb blew the HUMVEE into the air and created a giant cloud of debris, dirt and pavement. We stopped as fast as we could and when the smoke cleared enough, we could see the first HUMVEE had been completely blown off the road and was lying upside down in a ditch. To make matters worse it was also on fire. The rest of the team tried to free the driver and vehicle commander from the wreckage but the frame of the HUMVEE was bent and the door would not open. The two soldiers in the front were trapped inside the burning vehicle and died. We could only pray that they were already dead from the EFP blast and did not burn to death. We tried to pull the front doors off with a winch and a tow strap, but the burning ammunition inside the wreck started to explode and the entire vehicle caught fire and blew up. The gunner was pulled from the wreckage and was severely wounded with shrapnel wounds from the spalling. The Medic with the SPTT Team was able to start working on the gunner to save his life and we gave the interpreter aid as best as we could. A MEDIVAC was immediately called for the litter urgent and critical soldier and the QRF rolled from the FOB. About 10 minutes later the tanks and HUMVEES of the QRF got there and secured the area. What happened at this point is what we need your help with.
The MEDIVAC was denied because we could not guarantee the LZ was not hot. Even with the QRF securing the area, the MEDIVAC was not launched. We were told we had to transport the severely wounded soldier and interpreter back to the FOB, have the aid station stabilize them and the MEDIVAC would then fly to the FOB to pick them up. To complicate matters the QRF did not have an ambulance with them, because the medical until will not roll any of the 20 odd HUMVEE and M113 combat ambulances with the QRF because it is too dangerous outside the FOB. We had to put the soldier in a HUMVEE and drive him to the FOB, where the chicken shit medics were waiting inside the FOB gate to transport him, via ambulance to the TMC. Thank God this soldier is still alive and on his way to Landstuhl. The two soldiers were eventually pulled from the wreckage after a HEMMIT with a tank pump unit put out the fire that engulfed the wrecked HUMVEE. It took the HEMMIT almost an hour to get to the site, 3 miles away from the FOB, because the KBR contracted Fire Department and EMT unit refused to leave the FOB, because their contract states they will ONLY work within the protection of the FOB.
Their brand new fire engines and rescue vehicles were waiting inside the gate when we finally towed the wrecked HUMVEE back. By the time the HEMMIT arrived, both soldiers were burned beyond recognition. to the point where their own wives could not recognize them. Last night at 1:00am in the morning, we loaded the body bags on a helicopter to BIOP and to start their trip home
When we asked why the MEDIVAC would not land on a secured LZ to MEDIVAC the critically wounded soldier, we were told �the policy is that we cannot afford to lose a Blackhawk and crew flying into potentially hostile LZ.� We work in Salman Pak, which is almost an hour southeast of Baghdad. If a soldier is wounded, we are expected to self evac him back to Rustamiyah because �it is too dangerous to send a MEDIVAC, Ambulance or M113 combat medic vehicle (even if it is with the QRF). From he time we landed in Kuwait and after we arrived in Iraq, we were given MEDIVAC procedure cards and even given a MEDIVAC Freq . We were told that all we had to do is call and follow the procedures on the card and a MEDIVAC would be launched. This is BOGUS! ALL Soldiers need to know that unless they are at a FOB, the MEDIVAC will not be launched. Fire departments, EMT, combat medic vehicles, field ambulances all have orders not to leave the FOB because it is to :�dangerous.� The reality is if you are wounded, you are SOL until your own unit puts you into a HUMVEE and you get back to the FOB. Please help us contact [deleted] about this policy. 4th ID is telling us that �this is just the way things are.� That, �these things happen.� We need your help before this is swept under the rug.
OK, this means two things. One, 11B's are stuck in the sandbox and their bosses are too scared to dust them off. POG's as they call them, seem to be more valuable than grunts. So no one is going to send out a shiny helo to catch an RPG round.
People die over things like this and not just from wounds. Imagine your best friend dies because they didn't launch a dustoff. Your reaction might not be entirely rational.
In Vietnam, fragging started when people could no longer trust their superiors to act in their best interests. The same with combat refusals.
There is another, far more ominous implication here. US units only control as far as their guns can shoot. When commanders are afraid they can't protect dustoffs from ambush, much less an M113, whatever Bush is telling you about Iraq is a total and complete lie. It's easy to say gutless fucking POG's, but the reality is that they cannot secure those vehicles from ambush because they don't have enough armor or men.
This is another of those stories that I stay out of the way with my commentary/snark and let the story speak for itself:
From The Hill
President Bush has pledged to work with the new Democratic majorities in Congress, but he has already gotten off on the wrong foot with Jim Webb, whose surprise victory over Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) tipped the Senate to the Democrats
Webb, a decorated former Marine officer, hammered Allen and Bush over the unpopular war in Iraq while wearing his son’s old combat boots on the campaign trail. It seems the president may have some lingering resentment.
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.
Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.
“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.
Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.
Sorry for the shortness, etc, but the content speaks volumes
OK, I won't bullshit you. If you read the story below this and aren't shaking, you're either on better drugs than I have seen or have no nerves. Bush is pretty much pissing in Jim Baker's face as our military options close in Iraq.
But since the next two days will be filled with ugly, more ugly than we can be expected to bear, I would like to create a happy space.
A space where we talk about what we want or will buy for others for Christmas. Or make, or grow.
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and JOHN O’NEIL Published: November 28, 2006
TALLINN, Estonia, Nov. 28 — President Bush today said Al Qaeda was to blame for the rising wave of sectarian violence in Iraq, which he refused to label a civil war. Mr. Bush said he would press Iraq’s prime minister during meetings in Jordan later this week to lay out a strategy for restoring order.
“My questions to him will be: What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?” said Mr. Bush. “I will assure him that we will continue to pursue Al Qaeda to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq.”The remarks, made at a press conference here with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, were Mr. Bush’s first on the situation in Iraq since a series of bombs exploded in a Shiite district of Baghdad last Thursday, killing more than 200 people. The bombing was the deadliest single attack since the American invasion. The following day, Shiite militiamen staged a vengeful reprisal, attacking Sunni mosques in Baghdad and in the nearby city of Baquba.
The growing cycle of violence have prompted warnings from world leaders, including Jordan’s King Abdullah and Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, that the country is at the brink of civil war.
But Mr. Bush, who heads to Jordan on Wednesday for two days of meetings with Mr. Maliki, dismissed a question about whether a civil war has indeed erupted.
“There’s all kinds of speculation about what may or may not be happening,” he said, adding, “No question about it, it’s tough.”
Mr. Bush also had harsh words for Syria and Iran, and reiterated his stance that he does not intend to negotiate directly with them to enlist their help in ending the violence in Iraq. He said he would leave such talks to the government of Iraq, “a sovereign nation which is conducting its own foreign policy.”The president acknowledged that there were high levels of sectarian violence in Iraq, but he put the blame for the disorder squarely on Al Qaeda.
“There’s a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented, in my opinion, because of the attacks by Al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal,” Mr. Bush said, adding that he planned to work with Mr. Maliki “to defeat these elements.”
Referring to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda leader in Iraq who was killed by American forces over the summer, he added, “The plan of Mr. Zarqawi was to foment sectarian violence.”
Boy, I don't envy Jim Baker.
It isn't AQ doing this, but Sunnis. And the largest militia is the Mahdi Army.
In the interest of reaching out, Mr. Bloomberg chose to overlook remarks made by Mr. Barron, a former Black Panther, who came awfully close on Sunday to threatening violence against the police. If the city doesn’t respond to the Bell case, “don’t ask us to ask our people to be peaceful while they are being murdered,” said Mr. Barron, ever the statesman. “We’re not the only ones that can bleed.”
That is true. Police officers also can bleed, not that Mr. Sharpton or Mr. Barron is known for speaking out when the spilled blood is blue.
Did they call a rally after two black undercover detectives, James V. Nemorin and Rodney J. Andrews, were shot in the back of the head in 2003 while trying to rid the streets of guns? What do you think? Even as the killing of Mr. Bell held center stage, a Staten Island man went on trial yesterday in the detectives’ murder.
Perhaps one result of the latest disaster will be a reordering of police undercover procedures. The Diallo case led to changes. But it may be worth noting that the New York police do not typically shoot at anything in sight, despite some of the overheated oratory heard in the last few days.
By any measurement — number of shooting incidents, number of rounds fired, number of civilians shot or wounded — police officers reach for their guns far less often than they did 10 years ago. And 10 years ago, under Mr. Giuliani, the numbers were well below those of previous decades.
In the early 1970s, an average of 63 civilians a year were shot to death by the police. The figure for 1996 was 30. Last year it was 9. Before the Bell episode, the 2006 total was 10.
Of course, statistics get you only so far. Inevitably, something like Mr. Bell’s death reinforces a perception among some New Yorkers that the police are trigger-happy and the ones who pay, almost always, are black men
See, there's a missing man from Haberman's article and it's former police captain Eric Adams. He, not Sharpton, has defined the response to police shootings, and other crimes. It's easy for Haberman to take a snide cheap shot at Sharpton and Barron, but it isn't so easy unless you leave out Adams and his former organization One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement who care.
When criminals shoot police, why would you hold a rally? They're going to jail and justice will be served. When police murder blacks in the streets of New York, the dead are smeared, their families forced to wage a publicity campaign to get justice and is most likely to get a civil settlement from the city, while the cops walk free.
It is Adams who Sharpton has relied upon to question police procedure.
What Haberman also forgets to mention is while making Barron out to be scary, is that the issue is not just the shootings. People aren't upset about the shootings alone, but the knowledge that it is likely that no matter how flawed the incident, a policeman will never do time for killing a minority. If a citizen shot a police officer 41 or 50 times, they would be under the jail.
But time and again, white police officers are excused for what are basically extrajudicial killings. In the most egregious case, Giuliani led the fight to move the trial from the Bronx to Albany, where the jury freed four murderers. Which was the expected outcome. The Dorismond case never got to a jury. And the feds, frightened of Giuliani, never persued the case in District court.
The ONLY case which got to a federal grand jury and trial was the sodomy case of Abner Louima. And then, the cops lawyers waged a years long media battle to get some of the defendents freed.
What Haberman ignores is the fact that when police are wrong, when they murder, they do not serve time.
He's not honest enough to admit that it isn't perception but fact that when black men are murdered in the streets of New York by the police, heaven and earth will be moved to help them escape justice.
He, like a lot of the media, do not realize that the anger over the Diallo and Dorismond murders have only receeded, not disappeared. Freddy Ferrer found that out the hard way last year. By saying the Diallo "shooting" wasn't a murder, he lost black New York, despite Sharpton's efforts to help him.
Bloomberg doesn't realize it either.
The police unions better realize that they are alone on this. When the head of the Detectives Association comes out and says it was a good shooting, it makes him look like a bloodthirsty racist. Now, he may be defending his members, but people no longer want to hear police excuses for dead black men in the streets.
If you look at the two maps, you see that the US can only move the bulk of their forces south, through the Shia heartland.
This is critical in understanding how ugly this fight could be.
The fact is that the Iraqi government could come apart by the weekend, actually mid day Wednesday, if the Sadrists leave the government. Maliki could be in Jordan and the Green Zone could have new owners.
Bush is now officially over his head and is unlikely to be president by this time next year if a forced retreat from Iraq is the result. Nixon was long gone by the end of the Vietnam War.
So let's go over the topography, starting in Baghdad.
See the green zone and the airport?
Notice the highway between them, the most dangerous highway in the world?
Looking at the area of the Green Zone east. Well, that's the infamous Sadr City. It goes on for a while and has half of Baghdad's population.
Leaving Baghdad will be hard, if not impossible, for all but US citizens. Iraqi collaborators will be at the mercy of Shia and Sunni mobs and their deaths will be gruesome.
Getting out of Baghdad by ground is almost impossible to imagine.
But that would be the easy part. It is 300 miles to the Kuwaiti border, with several chokepoints along the way.
This is Nasyriah. This is where the 509th Maintenance Company convoy broke down and the US Marines fought an intense battle to control both bridges. But that was in an advance. The US would have to hold both ends for as long as the convoys needed to cross it. Which means they would have to seize it at the start of any retreat. Any delay would lead to the bridges being blown.
It isn't just money which makes Sadr powerful, it's geography.
By Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, November 28, 2006; Page A01
The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province.
The Marines recently filed an updated version of that assessment that stood by its conclusions and stated that, as of mid-November, the problems in troubled Anbar province have not improved, a senior U.S. intelligence official said yesterday. "The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same, the official said.
The Marines' August memo, a copy of which was shared with The Washington Post, is far bleaker than some officials suggested when they described it in late summer. The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across the capital.
True or not, the memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability.
Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected U.S. drawdown, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point" that U.S. and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar," the assessment found. In Anbar province alone, at least 90 U.S. troops have died since Sept. 1.
The Post first reported on the memo's existence in September, as it was being circulated among military and national security officials. Several officials who read the report described its conclusions as grim.
But the contents have not previously been made public. Read as a complete assessment, it paints a stark portrait of a failed province and of the country's Sunnis -- once dominant under Saddam Hussein -- now desperate, fearful and impoverished. They have been increasingly abandoned by religious and political leaders who have fled to neighboring countries, and other leaders have been assassinated. And unlike Iraq's Shiite majority, or Kurdish groups in the north, the Sunnis are without oil and other natural resources. The report notes that illicit oil trading is providing millions of dollars to al-Qaeda while "official profits appear to feed Shiite cronyism in Baghdad."
Someone here was posting on how strong the Sunnis were.
They are scared witless.
Sadr is planning a pogrom to punish the Sunnis for all history's wrong. They haven't got the power to fend off Sadr and his militia.