Monday, July 24, 2006

Hey, Look Over There!

From the Independent:
The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, meets Tony Blair in London today as violence in Iraq reaches a new crescendo and senior Iraqi officials say the break up of the country is inevitable.

A car bomb in a market in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad yesterday killed 34 people and wounded a further 60 and was followed by a second bomb in the same area two hours later that left a further eight dead. Another car bomb outside a court house in Kirkuk killed a further 20 and injured 70 people.

"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said.


In the past two weeks, at a time when Lebanon has dominated the international news, the sectarian civil war in central Iraq has taken a decisive turn for the worse. There have been regular tit-for-tat massacres and the death toll for July is likely to far exceed the 3,149 civilians killed in June.


"The government is all in the Green Zone like the previous one and they have left the streets to the terrorists," said Mahmoud Othman, a veteran Iraqi politician. He said the situation would be made worse by the war in Lebanon because it would intensify the struggle between Iran and the US being staged in Iraq. The Iraqi crisis would now receive much reduced international attention.

The switch of American and British media attention to Lebanon and away from the rapidly deteriorating situation in Baghdad is much to the political benefit of Mr Blair and Mr Bush.

"Maliki's trip to Washington is all part of the US domestic agenda to put a good face on things for November," a European diplomat in Baghdad was quoted as saying. Sectarian break-up of Iraq is now inevitable, admit officials

This past week I was staying in a hotel, watching CNN in the evenings, and it was unbelievable how the administration's media outlets have moved the focus from Iraq to Lebanon. Iraq is our war, we Americans are responsible for what has happened there, we should be paying attention to it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh come on man, I know you can find some rationale for blaming Bush for this war too.

I got faith in you man.

Go with your instincts. ;-)

July 24, 2006 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should surf over to some Socialist state controlled media outlets for some inspiration.

Pick up a few new talking points.

You're off your game a little.

July 24, 2006 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All has Passed as predicted.

July 24, 2006 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh Huh, cept for that whole post election Canadian adventure thing.

Maybe you should post Bush's approval ratings in your sidebar just to keep the ol motivational juices flowing between electoral setbacks.

I wonder how Bush's staff greets him in the morning these days?

July 25, 2006 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the administration's media outlets"


July 25, 2006 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan Rather?

July 25, 2006 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gitmo guards often attacked by detainees By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer
3 minutes ago

Fans. Shower sandals. Radios. Toilets. All innocent household conveniences, these items were fashioned into weapons by prisoners in the war on terror and used to attack their military guards at Guantanamo Bay, Pentagon memos reveal.

In all, the Defense Department has documented hundreds of attacks by Guantanamo detainees on Military Police guards since 2002, ranging from head butting and spitting to routine dousing with cups filled with feces, urine, vomit and sperm.

The guards also have been repeatedly grabbed, punched or assaulted by prisoners who reach through small "bean holes" used to deliver food and blankets through cell doors, the reports say.

While serious assaults requiring medical attention are rare, the detainees' attacks can be unnerving, according to the guards who currently endure them.

"Seeing a human being act that way, it's terrifying. And for the guards to continue to walk up and down the block, covered in urine and feces, it's just a bad thing," Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Mack D. Keen told The Associated Press in an interview from Guantanamo.

"You are constantly watching before you take your next step to see if something is about to happen."

More than 440 incident reports released under the Freedom of Information Act to a conservative legal group and reviewed by AP provide a rare daily chronicle of the tensions between guards and detainees from December 2002 through July 2005.

A detainee "reached under the face mask of an IRF (Initial Reaction Force) team member's helmet and scratched his face, attempting to gouge his eyes," states a May 27, 2005, report on an effort to remove a recalcitrant prisoner from his cell.

"The IRF team member received scratches to his face and eye socket area," the report said.

The report show there's an average of about three incidents per week. The names of guards and prisoners as well as the final discipline were blacked out by the Pentagon.

Often, guards went weeks without reporting problems; other times incidents were bunched together during times of frustration and tension.

For instance, nearly a quarter of the incidents occurred in July 2005, the month dozens of detainees started an extended hunger strike.

Tensions likewise flared during Christmas week 2004, with inmates frequently spitting on guards. On Christmas Eve, a prisoner who was angry that he couldn't finish his meal was said to have used a plastic fork-spoon utensil — called a spork — to attack a guard collecting his tray.

"Detainee stabbed the MP guard ... in the hand with his spork from chow meal," the report said, adding the prisoner later "made a slicing motion across his neck" and vowed to kill the guard.

Since its creation in early 2002, the U.S. detention camp on Cuba's coast has been a controversial symbol of the Bush administration's war on terror, bringing allegations of prisoner mistreatment, debates over civil rights and a landmark legal battle to win rights for the detainees.

At one point, more than 600 foreign men captured in the war on terror were kept there. Many have been released to their home countries, reducing the current population to about 450. Ten detainees have been accused of war crimes, but no one has been tried.

With many nearing five years in U.S. captivity, the prisoners "have a Ph.D. in being a detainee" and "know our procedures and they try to turn them against us," said Army Lt. Col. Michael J. Nicolucci, the prison's executive officer.

Meal plates, shower flip-flops, cleaning brushes and other items deemed harmless in civilian life also are commonly turned into weapons, the reports said. For instance:

_"Detainee in cell (redacted) grabbed the radio from an MP and then threw the radio at the MP. The detainee then threw rocks at the MP," a Dec. 23, 2003, incident report stated.

_A detainee "reached out of his bean hole and attacked MP (name redacted) with a piece of metal foot pad from toilet striking him on the left hip area," a July 15, 2005, report said.

_"Detainee broke off the top of his sink, subsequently broke out the window then began throwing the sink and pieces of pipes at the Block Guard," a March 25, 2005, report said.

One of the most unusual incidents detailed in the four-inch stack of incident reports occurred when a detainee in the prison recreation yard assaulted a guard with a bloody tail torn from a lizard.

The detainee "caught the iguana by the tail at which time the tail detached," the May 2005 report described. When the guard turned to talk to a commanding officer, "he felt something strike him in the lower right back" and then "saw the tail on the ground at his feet and blood was in the same area of his uniform." The detainee said he was "just playing."

Nicolucci said one of the most serious incidents occurred this May. A prisoner staged a suicide attempt while his inmates slicked the floors with human waste, seeking to overpower guards when they slipped, he said.

"We provide fans in order to keep them cool," Nicolucci recalled. "And they were using the basket, or the grate of the fan as a shield, the blades as machetes, the pole as a battering ram."

That uprising was quelled in a few minutes with some guards and prisoners sustaining minor injuries, he said.

Moazamm Begg, 38, a prisoner for more than two years at Guantanamo before being released to Britain, said he was suspicious of the Pentagon's description of incidents. Begg, who has written a book about his experience, said most incidents he witnessed were spontaneous reactions "when word spread" among prisoners that a guard had done something wrong.

"I rarely saw lone prisoners acting out on their own for no reason except if they had some sort of mental illness or if they were on medication," he said.

The reports state entire wings of prisoners were reported to become riotous after complaints emerged that guards mishandled a Quran or mistreated prisoners. On two occasions, however, prisoners themselves were reported to have destroyed their Muslim holy books, the reports state.

The Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that fought to force the Pentagon to release the reports under the Freedom of Information Act, said it hopes the information brings balance to the Guantanamo debate.

"Lawyers for the detainees have done a great job painting their clients as innocent victims of U.S. abuse when the fact is that these detainees, as a group, are barbaric and extremely dangerous," Landmark President Mark Levin said. "They are using their terrorist training on the battlefield to abuse our guards and manipulate our Congress and our court system."

James A. Gondles Jr., executive director of the American Correctional Association that sets standards for U.S. prisons, said much behavior inside Guantanamo mirrors that of civilian prisons though the attacks with bodily fluids seem more numerous.

"It happens from time to time at facilities here, but it seems the majority of ... assaults at Gitmo were either spitting, or bodily fluids being thrown on the guards," said Gondles, who has visited Guantanamo twice at the Pentagon's invitation and reviewed the reports at AP's request.

The bodily fluid attacks are so numerous that guards now frequently wear specialized shields to protect their faces.

The incident reports show waves of orchestrated behavior.

For instance, prisoners repeatedly grabbed their guards' whistles over a five-day period in June 2004. In July 2005, guards reported several instances of rock throwing, spitting and flip-flop hitting. Rocks were hidden under shower mats, the reports said.

The incident reports also are noteworthy for information that is missing. With redacted names, it is impossible to tell whether bad behavior is widespread or the work of a few repeat offenders. Likewise, the documents don't tell whether certain guards are prone to confrontation.

Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., a prisoner of war during Vietnam, said the treatment of the guards has been overshadowed by the legal and political debates surrounding the detainees, but he has been impressed with the guards' professionalism.

"Our personnel there have perhaps the most difficult task you can have in the military outside of being in a combat zone," he said.

While Washington addresses how the detainees will be kept and tried, the guards look to stay one step ahead of the detainees.

"Yes, you do get upset but you get somebody to take your place," Keen said in explaining how he survives the tensions of the cell block. "You go outside. You walk it off and you come back and (say) I want to be back in the fight."

August 01, 2006 5:17 AM  

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