web counter Media Lies: January 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005

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Incredible Iraqi election story

WaPo published a story about the election that is simply amazing. Iraqis were standing in line to vote when a suicide bomber walked up to the police officer that was frisking people and blew himself and the officer up as well as four other people.
The young man wore a winter jacket over his explosive vest and approached the polling station with his hands in the pockets.

"Take your hands out of your pockets," said Ali Jabur, the Iraqi police officer in charge of patting down voters on the street outside. The young man obliged by throwing his arms wide, and blew them both to bits.

Three hours later, in streets still littered with the bomber's remains, some very determined voters streamed into the Badr Kobra High School for Girls, intent on casting the ballots that they called a repudiation of the terrorist attacks meant to scare them away.
The Iraqis, under extreme duress, showed great bravery.
Though performing this duty meant standing amid flecks of the flesh of the last officer who had the job, there were volunteers. In stepping forward to do the first round of pat-downs themselves, local residents explained that they could raise the alert if another suspicious stranger approached.

"The police might not be able to recognize residents; we know them better," said Zaid Abdulhamid, an electronics merchant. He was stationed at the head of an alley blocked by the trunk of a date palm, the all-purpose roadblock in Iraq. The Arabic words spray-painted on the surrounding walls read: "No to America. No to occupation" and "Death to anyone who hates Iraq."
They had to shut down the polls for a couple of hours to clean up the mess, and they moved the security perimeter back another block, but voting resumed.

When the suicide bomber at the high school struck shortly before 11 a.m., the polling site had been growing busy after a slow start. But Hadi Saleh Mohammed, the election official in charge, felt he had no choice but to close it down. There were the wounded to evacuate, a gruesome mess to clean up, security to reassess.

While all that went forward, the voters stood at the end of the block, waiting.

"They wanted to come back in," Mohammed said. "They didn't want to go back home."

Why not?

"First, people want to stop this terrorism that's breeding in this country. Second, the religious leadership wanted people to vote. And third, people have had enough of time wasted. They want to get their permanent government."

So the polling place reopened. On the advice of the U.S. troops, the security perimeter was pushed back a block, so people could be frisked twice before entering the school.
Could we find more than a handful of people in America with this kind of courage?

Yes, we can. They're called the US military.


More terrorists die

Kuwaitis killed four terrorists, including a "boss", in a raid today.
Kuwaiti security forces killed four al Qaeda militants and captured three others, including a suspected leader, during clashes Monday in oil-rich Kuwait which is battling a surge in al Qaeda-linked violence.

Monday's gunbattle marked an escalation in the fight between authorities and militants bent on destabilizing U.S. ally Kuwait, where sympathy for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who has called for holy war against Western targets, is on the rise.

Analysts said Kuwait's swift response showed the tiny country of 2.5 million people was better placed to crush militants than vast Saudi Arabia, where al Qaeda has staged massive attacks against Western and government targets.

An Interior Ministry statement said four militants and one Kuwaiti civilian were killed, and three policemen and three militants were wounded in the clash -- the fourth this month pitting al Qaeda fighters against police in the pro-Western Gulf Arab state.
Kuwait seems serious about dealing with terrorists, unlike Saudi Arabia, which can't seem to make up its mind unless the terrorists attack them directly.


The body isn't even cold yet....

....and already the vultures descend.
Just how many Sunni Arabs voted in Iraq's election might not be known for a long time. But one thing already is certain: A lot did not.

Hailed the world over as a triumph of democracy, the vote is unlikely to bring into the fold a group that could prove crucial to peace in Iraq. Already there are strong indications Iraq's majority Shiites are most likely to emerge the clear winners, once the counting is complete.

In contrast, many Sunni Arabs shunned the vote, either out of fear or in response to boycott calls from clerics. A senior U.S. official, speaking Monday in Baghdad on condition of anonymity, cited the boycott calls, intimidation and absence of well-defined leaders as the factors behind the low Sunni turnout.

If confirmed, that low turnout could cast a shadow over the election's credibility and hand the bloody Sunni-led insurgency another reason to carry on.
Of course they couldn't possibly know this, because the results won't be announced for about ten days, but of course they are "experts", aren't they?

Seems there's a lot of those around these days.


So many bozos, so little time

Yet another "expert" claims we're losing the war on terror in the cafes in Europe. As with most "experts", he's completely wrong. If we ever lose the war on terror, it will be in the media not in the cafes. If the Europeans had a clue what the truth is (and some, thankfully, do), they wouldn't have the attitude they have toward the US. But they are overwhelmed by a socialist media that wouldn't tell the truth if it hit them in the forehead. (Don't believe me? Ask any Frenchman is their military shot unarmed civilians in the Ivory Coast. Prepare for blank stares.)
As a result of 9/11 attacks, the US was indisputably in a position of moral ascendancy - that is, the unambiguous and near-universal perception that your cause is right. It is more than sympathy. It's "actionable sympathy." Moral ascendancy is to the diplomat, military attaché, or CIA case-officer what "being ahead in the count" is to the baseball pitcher. You are in the driver's seat. It is a good position to be in when you need help.

Serving in the intelligence community post-9/11, I learned that when your country has moral ascendancy, the most powerful intelligence collection tool isn't necessarily a $50 million satellite or a highly placed agent or source. It can be simply a business card.
His is the typical whine about how we went off track in Iraq after having the whole world with us after 9/11.

Shut up, get out of the way, and let us get on with the business of killing terrorists, moral equivocation and situational ethics all at the same time. We'll deal with the bozos later.


"Experts" and the old media....

....predicted a low turnout among Iraqi expats around the world. They were wrong about the registered voters.
About 93 percent of the 280,000 Iraqi voters registered abroad cast absentee ballots in the country's election, the agency that organized the vote said Monday.

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration said that 265,148 Iraqi expatriate voters went to the special polls over three days in 14 countries.

While participation of the registered voters was unusually high, those who registered in a special nine-day campaign that ended Jan. 25 represented only 23 percent of the estimated 1.2 million Iraqi expatriates eligible to vote.

The low registration figure was attributed partly to fears of violence and retribution from insurgents but also the fact that not all countries with large numbers of Iraqis, including Egypt, participated and many voters had to travel abroad to register and then again to vote.

"I have worked on many post-conflict out-of-country elections, but this is honestly the first time I have seen this level of emotion and excitement among voters," said Peter Erben, who directed the project for IOM. Most recently he worked on the Afghanistan election.
"Experts" continue to underestimate the Iraqis. Why is that?


Fresh meat for liberals and other freedom haters

The AP reports that US military guards killed four detainees during a riot in Iraq.
U.S. guards opened fire Monday on prisoners during a riot at the main detention facility for security detainees, killing four of them, the U.S. command said. Six other prisoners were injured.

The riot broke out shortly after noon at the Camp Bucca internment facility near Umm Qasr in southern Iraq (news - web sites) after a routine search for contraband in one of the camp's 10 compounds, the command said in a statement.

"The riot quickly spread to three additional compounds, with detainees throwing rocks and fashioning weapons from materials inside their living areas." the statement said. "Guards attempted to calm the increasingly volatile situation using verbal warnings and, when that failed, by use of non-lethal force."

"After about 45 minutes of escalating danger, lethal force was used to quell the violence," the statement added.
After the incredible success of the elections, the media and lefties are dying for some "good" news. I'm sure they'll make hay with this, including extensive revisits of Abu Ghraib and great hand-wringing about the inability of US military to control themselves.


Are you proud of the UN now?

AP is reporting incredible news about the UN.
A U.N. commission concluded that the Sudanese government and militias carried out mass killings and probably war crimes in the Darfur region, but stopped short of calling the violence genocide, according to a report released Monday.

The panel recommended that the International Criminal Court investigate evidence of widespread abuses including torture, rape, killings of civilians and pillaging.

The United Nations has called Darfur the world's worst humanitarian crisis, saying the conflict there has claimed 70,000 lives since March — mostly from disease and hunger — and now affects 2 million people, up from 1.8 million in September.

While the commission was clearly reluctant to pronounce a verdict on the violence, it said many of the worst attacks "may amount to crimes against humanity."
OK, let me see if I understand this. The Sudanese government and militias killed at least 70,000 people, and the UN thinks, maybe, just maybe there might have been some crimes against humanity committed?

The biggest crime against humanity right now is that the UN has any credibility at all!


Oil For Food scam coming apart

The Counterterrorism Blog links to a Financial Times story that reveals that Benon Saven, who ran the Oil For Food program personally directed the scam, something he has repeatedly denied.
The Financial Times has just reported that Iraqi officials have told Paul Volcker's U.N. inquiry staff that Benon Sevan, who ran the program, personally intervened to steer lucrative oil contracts to Africa Middle East Petroleum (AMEP), a Swiss-based oil trading company. Documents from Iraq's state oil marketing organisation, Somo, names AMEP as "the company that Mr Sevan cited" to the Iraqi oil minister after Mr. Sevan visited Baghdad in the summer of 1998, and Sevan's name appears thereafter in Somo documents, often next to that of AMEP.
Coupled with the news that Kojo Annan, Kofi Annan's son, has admitted that he was involved in brokering deals, it appears that UNSCAM is rapidly breaking loose.
THE son of the United Nations secretary-general has admitted he was involved in negotiations to sell millions of barrels of Iraqi oil under the auspices of Saddam Hussein.

Kojo Annan has told a close friend he became involved in negotiations to sell 2m barrels of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company in 2001. He is understood to be co-operating with UN investigators probing the discredited oil for food programme.

The alleged admission will increase pressure on Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who is already facing calls for his resignation over the management of the humanitarian programme.
Let's hope that the truth comes out and the guilty parties are held accountable. (Hat tip to Captain Ed.)


Hammorabi celebrates Iraq's victory

Hammorabi has much to say about the elections, and he sends thanks to all who have supported the Iraqis in this world-changing endeavor. Let it never be said again that Arabs and other middle-easterners don't want democracy or the hateful racist statement that they can't "handle" democracy. The Iraqis handled it quite well, thank you.

It's time for the people of the world who opposed the war to admit they were wrong about Iraq, wrong about the "insurgents" and wrong about the just cause of democracy in the Middle East. And it's well past time for the countries of the Middle East to show respect to their citizens and implement changes to allow their people's voices to be heard.


More good news from Iraq

Chrenkoff has released part 20 of his Good News From Iraq series. As with all the previous ones, this is a not-to-be-missed roundup of good news.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

PLEASE NOTE: Media Lies has moved.
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You have got to be kidding me!

It appears that John Kerry still can't admit that he lied about Cambodia! What a bozo! I hope he runs in 2008. Bloggers will tear him up in the primaries and he'll never recover.


Donald Sensing highlights....

....a brave Iraqi who, if he were a US soldier, would surely receive the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice.


What's it like to serve?

Tbone writes about the life of a US military person. It's not all glamour, a lot of it is really tough. Yet every one of these people has made a decision to serve fully aware of the life they are choosing. They echo our forebears in ways that many of us are only vaguely aware of and some of us are completely ignorant of. They put their lives on the line daily and ask nothing in return.

But the hardest part of all is being away from their families.
I also miss my wife terribly. I bring a small photo album with my favorite pictures. When I feel bad, I find a private corner somewhere and look at photos of my wife and kids. I read and re-read her letters when I get them (mail is very slow to get overseas). I call her when I can, but it isn't very often. Sometimes looking at her photos only makes me feel worse because I know I am looking at someone I can't touch for a long time. I miss the company and the intimacy. I am not alone, but I sure feel lonely sometimes.

I also miss the comforts of home. Sometimes I sleep on a fold out cot. Sometimes I sleep in a tent. Sometimes I go without a shower for days or weeks at a time. Sometimes I go without ice cubes or cold drinks. Sometimes I go without hot food, instead eating Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) out of a plastic bag. Sometimes I work 18 hours a day for months without a day off. Sometimes I go to a memorial service for a fallen comrade. One day blends into the next until you feel like a machine or a zombie.

Mix all the above with a dose of diarrhea from eating local food, a pinch of stress because your wife just wrote that your son is failing the 9th grade, and a whole load of anxiety because mortars are going off around you and you have a recipe for a soldiers life. It is a difficult and unglamorous life. I am trying not to whine too loudly...hope I don't sound too ungrateful for all the good things I experienced along the way.

So please, the next time you see a serviceman, thank him (and her) not only for the job he does but also for the hardship he endures in the process. Having written this down, I feel a little better. Thanks for listening. Talk to you all later.
Yes, please remember the American serviceman and woman and do something special for them today. And remember, when you go to bed at night, many men and women are enduring great hardship on your behalf because they chose to. They deserve our respect. They deserve our admiration. And they deserve the best this country has to give when we need to take care of them.

Tbone, whereever you are, our prayers are with you and our family. And thanks!


More pictures of the election....

....from Hammorabi. The lame and elderly were carried on the backs of the young to the voting stations! You have to see these pictures.


The face of victory

What does victory over evil look like? It looks like this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this.

Enough said?


I never thought I'd say this....

....but God bless Geraldo Rivera. He has the guts to tell the truth. Click on this link and view the video. If we had more reports like this, the American people would back this war 100%. (Hat tip to The Adventures of Chester.)


Blogger scores exclusive interview....

....with the head of security for the Iraqi elections. Here's the entire interview.
Q. How has today gone?

A. Today was very, very good. Better than we ever expected. For sure, the people of Iraq love democracy. For sure they love liberty, and are not afraid of terrorism. For us, for me, the time of terrorism is over. Today, we won all the battles against terrorists.

Q. What went wrong and what went right today?

A. For me, our plan was executed very well. We deployed our forces well, and had good coordination and communication. But there were problems with identification systems and badges. There were also media problems.

Q. What challenges remain?

A. The big problem now is the risk of attack on polling centers. The problem is that the National Guard, Police, and Coalition want to leave the polling centers now because they think it is all over. Our plans considered this. We thought of everything. We have repeatedly ensured that all forces understand they cannot leave the polling centers until the ballots leave. But at the lowest levels they don't understand this requirement. There may still be a danger that people want to attack ballots and invalidate the results.

Q. What did you think of when you were voting?

A. Voting is a new freedom for us. It is the first time for us to vote freely and peacefully, without tension, and without force. It gave me a lot of pleasure.

Q. What is the relevance of the elections to Iraq's future?

A. These elections will do a lot of things for the future. First, the Iraqi people have won self confidence. The Iraqi people have won democracy. Iraqis understand how democracy can work in the future now. It is because of your [American] scientific methods. For us those are new things.

Q. What would you say to America today? What would you say to the world?

A. We thank the Americans because they saved us from the dictatorial regime and we hope that all the world will see we can live well with a modern life, a democratic life. You've helped us find the true road. We thank you very much for working with us on the plan. It has been a result of cooperative work between the Iraqi Government and the Multinational Forces and the Election Commission, as well as internally between the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense. This has not been the result of one person, but of many groups working together. This cooperation has given me much pleasure.

Q. What will be the result of the elections?

A. The result? All the major lists will win. There will be some lists with 100 members and others with 60. This is the road of democracy. The people can choose as they like. We can now see the road to democracy and to the free life.

Q. What will change from the last two years?

A. You know, in the last two years, we have won a lot of things with you. And you see the Iraqis are kind. You don't see bad people on this day. You see the people who are kind, who work well. I hope that we find a system for the next phase with the new government. In the past two years we have had many difficulties and made normal mistakes, as all new governments do. But with your help, we discovered new solutions, and I hope we can implement those solutions in the coming years. We learned together. We can face the problems of the future.
In case you're wondering, I won't be blogging any "news" today. I'm ignoring the wire services, the old media and the pundits.

What do they know?


Iraq the Model says....

....The people have won.
We would love to share what we did this morning with the whole world, we can't describe the feelings we've been through but we'll try to share as much as we can with you.
We woke up this morning one hour before the alarm clock was supposed to ring. As a matter of fact, we barely slept at all last night out of excitement and anxiety.

The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted "vote for Allawi" less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said:
"You're a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people's choice. This is Iraq's army, not Allawi's".
This was a good sign indeed and the young officer's statement was met by applause from the people on the street.
The streets were completely empty except for the Iraqi and the coalition forces ' patrols, and of course kids seizing the chance to play soccer!

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.
We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.
Do yourself a favor. Read it all.


Alaa celebrates the bravery of Iraqis

In a post entitled Suicide bombers vs. suicide voters, Alaa writes:
I bow in respect and awe to the men and women of our people who, armed only with faith and hope are going to the polls under the very real threats of being blown to pieces. These are the real braves; not the miserable creatures of hate who are attacking one of the noblest things that has ever happened to us. Have you ever seen anything like this? Iraq will be O.K. with so many brave people, it will certainly O.K.; I can say no more just now; I am just filled with pride and moved beyond words. People are turning up not only under the present threat to polling stations but also under future threats to themselves and their families; yet they are coming, and keep coming. Behold the Iraqi people; now you know their true metal. We shall never forget the meanness of these bas....s. After this is over there will be no let up, they must be wiped out. It is our duty and the duty of every decent human to make sure this vermin is no more and that no more innocent decent people are victimized.

My condolences to the Great American people for the tragic recent losses of soldiers. The blood of Iraqis and Americans is being shed on the soil of Mesopotamia; a baptism with blood. A baptism of a lasting friendship and alliance, for many years to come, through thick and thin, we shall never forget the brave soldiers fallen while defending our freedom and future.

This is a very hurried message, while we are witnessing something quite extraordinary. I myself have voted and so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance.
Today is an historic day for Iraq and for the world.


How do Iraqis feel today?

Ask the Friends of Democracy.
Our correspondent in Zy Qar province filed interviews with local voters. (Click here to listen in Arabic.)

The citizens of the Zy Qar governorate went in mass to the polls in spite of difficult conditions and threats, all for our dear Iraq. In front of one of the voting centers, we met citizens to get their opinions about elections.

Question: Ms. Zeinab Jabbar, what is your feeling on Election Day?

Answer: For the first time, we have an opportunity to give our opinion in all justice and equality and without pressures. We all have the same desire to elect people who represent the real sovereignty and build a new Iraq, and Iraq of justice, stability, without oppression, away from confessionalism and nepotism where all the citizens will be equal. I hope all Iraqis hopes will be fulfilled through these elections.

Q: Ms. Alaa Rabih, what is your feeling on elections?

A: My feeling is a feeling of nationalism and revolution. For the first time, we feel secure and stable, we will have a new constitution and live in a peaceful Iraq.

Q: Mr. Ahmad Salman, what is your feeling on Election Day?

A: A good feeling, a feeling of a revolution happening.

Q: Ms. Batoul what is your feeling on Election Day?

A: This is a celebration. I hope for justice, equality and security and that democratic operation ends without any loss.


Iraqis celebrate freedom

Hammorabi celebrates the new day of freedom in Iraq, confirming the desire of every human to be free. Turnout was so large people asked for an extension to vote.
It was unexpected turn out in Baghdad and most other parts of Iraq especially the south and central Iraq.

Some polling station run out of voting papers and boxes were full in many stations!

Many people asked for extension of the time allowed.
According to the news the Iraqis outside Iraq when they heard about the large and unexpected numbers of Iraqis went for voting, they also encouraged and decided to go. This make larger than expected numbers in London and other countries.
Ali calls it The best Eid I ever had and exults over his chance to tell the terrorists and Ba'athists that he would not be defeated.
he voting center that was chosen in our district is a high school in the middle of the Neighborhood . This was the same place I went in 1996 to cast my vote in a poll asking if we wanted to have Saddam as a president for life or not. I had to go at that time. The threats for anyone who refused to take that poll were no less than the death penalty. Still our district was one of the places were one could vote secretly, occasionally though. They trusted our neighborhood because it's mainly Sunni military officers who live here with their families. I and some of my friends chose "NO" but we were scared to death as we marked the paper and remained so for days.

This time we went by choice and the threat was exactly the opposite. As I was walking with many people towards the center explosion hit and gun fire were heard but most were not that close. People didn't seem to pay attention to that. Some of them even brought their little kids with them! It's like the Eid but only a thousand times better.
The joy he felt from voting is almost forgotten in America, we are so spoiled and take democracy so for granted.
I'm still thrilled as I'm watching Iraqis vote allover Iraq through TV. Al Arabyia just reported that 6 thousand people in Fallujah have voted till now out of 60 thousands who have returned to their homes (total not voters). I listened to that and I felt enormous admiration and respect to those 6 thousand heroes. Things are difficult in Baghdad but it's still incomparable to Fallujah. I'm sure that the number will rise towards the end of the day.

I'm stil overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions that I don't know what to say more. The only things I can feel so strongly now are hope, excitement, pride and a strange internal peace. I have won my battle and I'm watching the whole Iraqis winning their battle too. I'll try to write to you later my friends.
A'ash Al Iraq, A'ashat America, A'ash Al Tahaluf. (Long live Iraq, long live America and long live the coalition)
This is a day the whole should celebrate, but many will not. What does that say about the world?

Iraqis suffered under Sadaam for thirty years — the world did nothing. Millions were killed in Rwanda — the world did nothing. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in Sudan — the world does nothing. Jews were slaughtered in the holocaust — the world did nothing. How long must evil reign? How long will good men sit idly by while their fellow men die at the hand of butchers? How long?


Saturday, January 29, 2005

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The polls are open....

....and voting has begun. The polls opened at 11PM Texas time (CST) and will close in the morning, Texas time. We should know the results by noon tomorrow.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has more and agrees with me that the violence will be light and surprise the "experts".


Interactive Iraqi election coverage

Friends of Democracy will be live on C-Span tomorrow, and they're asking viewers to interact with them during the show. Submit questions or comments, and follow the dialogue as the Iraqi election results are discussed live on this historic day.


Iraqi expats vote in Australia....

....and endure harassment from Wahhabis and a bomb scare.
An Australian polling station for Iraqi exiles voting in their homeland's historic election was closed for an hour on Saturday after a riot broke out and a suspicious bag prompted a bomb scare, organizers said.

Bernie Hogan, the head of Australia's (search) overseas voting program, said the riot erupted when a group of around 20 protesters started yelling insults at voters leaving the polling center in a Sydney neighborhood dominated by Iraqi Shiites.

Hogan said the protesters were holding up the same black flag with white lettering that has appeared as a backdrop in videos released by Iraqi insurgents featuring foreign hostages begging for their lives.

Thair Wali, an Iraqi adviser for the International Organization for Migration, said the protesters' flag and Arabic slogans identified them as Wahabis, followers of an austere brand of Sunni Islam practiced mostly in Saudi Arabia.

Wahabis are suspected of having influence over militants waging a 17-month insurgency in Iraq.

Wali said the fight broke out after the protesters took pictures of voters.

"This is scary for the people, taking photos of the voting," he said.
This is how the Wahhabis are. Personal choice is not allowed. Anyone who gets out of line is intimidated, and if they stay out of line, they are beheaded.


US Embassy in Baghdad attacked

The US Embassy in Baghdad was attacked with mortars killing two Americans. Shortly after, coalition forces arrested seven "insurgents".
U.S. forces captured seven suspects shortly after the rocket attack on the embassy that killed one civilian Defense Department employee and one naval officer. Of the four injured Americans, two were military, one was a civilian and the fourth was as yet undetermined, a military official said. A State Department spokesman said none of their injuries were life-threatening.

Earlier on Saturday, eight people were killed in a homicide bombing and a roadside explosive killed a U.S. soldier.

The explosion rocked the U.S. Embassy a little past 7 p.m. on Saturday when a rocket landed outside the southern edge of the palace that houses American civilians and military personnel. The embassy is approximately 350 yards from the nearest border of the heavily fortified Green Zone. Concrete barriers and a 10-foot-high fence surround the compound, meaning the attack was probably the result of indirect fire.

U.S. forces were able to trace the trajectory of the rocket, and eventually homed in on two cars driving away from the launch site, officials told FOX News.

An unmanned surveillance aircraft followed the cars to a house in southern Baghdad. U.S. military aircraft and tanks full of soldiers surrounded the house, where seven people were apprehended. Five tested positive for rocket material, but all seven were taken into custody for questioning.
Those surveillance aircraft are coming in handy.


On the eve of elections....

....Ali revels in his freedom and looks forward to casting his vote — Hammorabi says says "Yes" to democracy and "No!" to terrorists — TBone send best wishes to the Iraqis and prays for the safety of the coalition forces — Friends of Democracy reports that journalists have been barred from the polling places in Samawa, citizens in Najaf revealed a weapons cache to Iraqi National Forces, and streets near polling places in Baghdad are closed until the elections are over.

Just a few more hours until Iraqis vote.


Centcom reported on Wednesday....

....that they had detained 314 "insurgents" in the Mosul area since Jan 5, 2005. Today, Centcom reported that they had detained 341 "insurgents" since Jan 5. In other words, since Wednesday, they've detained an additional 27 "insurgents".
Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Forces from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) continued operations to ensure security for the elections, detaining ten individuals in northern Iraq Jan 29.

Multi-National Force Soldiers detained eight individuals suspected of anti-Iraqi activity while conducting a raid south of Mosul. Suspects are in custody with no MNF injuries reported.

Iraqi Intervention Forces detained two individuals suspected of anti-Iraqi activity while conducting cordon and search operations in the Saliy Al Noor Mosque in southeastern Mosul. The IIF also confiscated weapons from the individuals. Suspects are in custody with no IIF injuries reported.

Military officials have said the Mosul area is becoming safer with each seizure and removal of dangerous weapons and detention of anti-Iraqi insurgents. Since Jan. 5 Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Forces have detained 341 individuals and confiscated numerous weapons and munitions. The operations will continue to increase as elections near to ensure the safety of Iraqi citizens wishing to vote.
My sense is that things have changed dramatically since Fallujah, despite the drumbeat of negative reports from the media.


Friday, January 28, 2005

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Media bias and the Iraqi war

Thomas Sowell has published a column on the effect that media bias is having on the Iraqi war effort.
There are still people in the mainstream media who profess bewilderment that they are accused of being biased. But you need to look no further than reporting on the war in Iraq to see the bias staring you in the face, day after day, on the front page of the New York Times and in much of the rest of the media.

If a battle ends with Americans killing a hundred guerrillas and terrorists while sustaining ten fatalities, that is an American victory. But not in the mainstream media. The headline is more likely to read: "Ten More Americans Killed in Iraq Today."

This kind of journalism can turn victory into defeat in print or on TV. Kept up long enough, it can even end up with real defeat, when support for the war collapses at home and abroad.
In fact we now know that the Vietnam War was lost in the media. The communist leaders of North Vietnam wrote about it in their diaries and have admitted it publicly. Yet, as Sowell points out, the coverage of the Vietnam war is a point of pride for journalists.
Too many in the media today regard the reporting of the Vietnam War as one of their greatest triumphs. It certainly showed the power of the media — but also its irresponsibility. Some in the media today seem determined to recapture those glory days by the way they report on events in the Iraq war.

First, there is the mainstream media's almost exclusive focus on American casualties in Iraq, with little or no attention to the often much larger casualties inflicted on the guerrillas and terrorists from inside and outside Iraq.
Sometimes I wonder if these journalists are even Americans. (Hat tip to Blackfive.)


The root of terrorist evil....

....is in Saudi Arabian Wahhabism, the extremist version of Islam that teaches that the only acceptable courses of action for a believer are to convert the "infidel" or kill the "infidel". No other course of action is acceptable. Now evidence has been adduced by the Center for Religious Freedom proving that Saudi Arabia is spreading hatred with the borders of the United States.
The propagation of hate ideology by Saudi Arabia is known to be worldwide, but its occurrence within the United States has received scant attention until now. Within worldwide Sunni Islam, followers of Saudi Arabia's extremist Wahhabi ideology are a distinct minority, as is evident by the millions of Muslims who have chosen to make America their home and are upstanding, law-abiding citizens and neighbors.

The report concludes that the Saudi government propaganda examined reflects a "totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite to violence," and the fact that it is "being mainstreamed within our borders through the efforts of a foreign government, namely Saudi Arabia, demands our urgent attention." The report finds: "Not only does the government of Saudi Arabia not have a right — under the First Amendment or any other legal document — to spread hate ideology within U.S. borders, it is committing a human rights violation by doing so."
Sooner or later the Bush administration is going to have to face the reality that the Saudis must be dealt with. I haven't seen any indication that the people of Saudi Arabia desire a change in government, so pressure will have to be exerted externally to stimulate change.

Once Iraq is stablized and Iran has been dealt with (however that plays out), the root of the problem must be tackled.
One insidious aspect of the Saudi propaganda examined is its aim to replace traditional and moderate interpretations of Islam with extremist Wahhabism, the officially-established religion of Saudi Arabia. In these documents, other Muslims, especially those who advocate tolerance, are condemned as infidels. The opening fatwa in one Saudi embassy-distributed book, published by the Saudi Air Force, responds to a question about a Muslim preacher in a European mosque who taught that it is not right to condemn Jews and Christians as infidels. The Saudi state cleric's reply rebukes the Muslim cleric: "He who casts doubts about their infidelity leaves no doubt about his." Since, under Saudi law, "apostates" from Islam can be sentenced to death, this is an implied death threat against the tolerant Muslim imam, as well as an incitement to vigilante violence;
Wahhabism is so extreme that even Muslims are at risk.
Sufi and Shiite Muslims are viciously condemned;

For a Muslim who fails to uphold the Saudi Wahhabi sect's sexual mores (i.e. through homosexual activity or heterosexual activity outside of marriage), the edicts published by the Saudi government's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and found in American mosques advise, "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and to take his money;"

Regarding those who convert out of Islam, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs explicitly asserts, they "should be killed;"
This isn't some extremist sect. This is the official religion (and government) of Saudi Arabia! Is it any wonder that most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia? That bin Laden is from there? That many Saudis have flocked to Iraq to join the jihad? (Hat tip to the Counterterrorism Blog.)

UPDATE: Wretchard has an interesting discussion about Saudi Wahhabism spreading through Africa and its effect on the indigenous people's culture.


This Centcom release....

....gives you an idea how much work has to be done to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with the Program and Contracting Office, is rebuilding various gas-oil separation plants, in the South Rumulia and West Quarna oil fields of southern Iraq.

The program's goal is to provide three million metric tons of Liquid Petroleum Gas to meet the needs of the Iraqi people. To achieve this objective, the Corps and the project team will restore the functions of 12 GOSPs scattered throughout southern Iraq.

Crude oil, as it exists in the various underground formations, blends together a variety of hydrocarbon molecules. As oil emerges from the ground and is piped to the GOSPs, it is under considerable natural pressure and very hot. Crude oil is a blend of a variety of different liquid and gaseous molecules. Within the GOSP, the crude is allowed to flow into a vessel where the pressure suddenly falls. Under the lower pressure, the gases dissolved in the crude escape, like carbonation escapes from an opened bottle of soda pop.

The GOSP's purpose is to separate the dissolved gases from the liquids, and forward the different products to their respective refining facilities. Once they arrive at the natural gas refinery, they are further separated into butane, propane, liquefied petroleum and other natural gases. These gases can be compressed and placed into home-style vessels and made available to the Iraqi people to use for cooking and heating.

Although coalition forces did not damage these facilities during recent hostilities, GOSPs have suffered from years of neglect attributed to Iraq's inability to secure replacement parts for many of the systems. Also, many facilities suffered heavy looting.

Presently, the project is in the detailed engineering and procurement phase. Many of the components germane to these facilities are specialized pieces of equipment and require significant periods of time to fabricate and deliver to the jobsite. During the second half of 2005, installation and construction will start. The project team is working hard to have these facilities performing at their design capacity by Dec. 31, 2005.
This is just one part of Iraq's infrastructure. Many other areas are in just a decrepit shape as this.


Buried in a story of gloom and doom....

....is good news.
With crucial national elections only two days away, Iraqi officials announced the arrests of three more purported lieutenants of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, including the Jordanian terror mastermind's military adviser and chief of operations in Baghdad.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh told reporters that U.S. and Iraqi authorities were closing in on al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq who is believed responsible for many of the car-bombings, kidnappings and decapitations of foreigners in Iraq.
The beat goes on. One by one the network is collapsing and its leaders are sitting in prison.

I suspect, after the elections are over, the new Iraqi government will not deal kindly with these murderers and thugs.


You won't read this in the Times

Friends of Democracy sponsored a debate of the candidates in Samawa, Al Muthanna province. They provide pictures which show Iraqis passionately discussing the issues and a narrative of the event.

Here's a sample.
The first two debaters were Mr. Mouhammad Al Zayadi from list No. 185 of the Al Mathna block and Mr. Hakem Khazal from list No. 118 of the middle Euphrates block.

The debate started with a reading from the Holy Qur'an for Iraq martyrs. The moderator then gave 10 minutes to each candidate to present himself. Mr Hakem Khazal thanked the audience for attending in spite of the heavy rain that filled the street of Al Samawa. He accused the governorate council of being a failure and of being corrupt. He said he had a clear view of the ideal program for the governorate, changing insecurity into reconstruction. He added: the citizens must not hinder our efforts by following those who take advantage of religion and of people's unawareness.
(And you thought the Iraqis couldn't even admit who they were for fear of dying!)

Reading the narrative sounds a lot like American politicians, even down to the criticism of the other's record.

Meanwhile, over at Iraq the Model Mohammed longs for the 48 hours to pass so Iraqis can prove their mettle to the world.
In 48 hours from now, the dying dictatorships and their filthy tools, the terrorists, will find themselves facing an elected legitimate government in Iraq.

The tyrants nightmare is becoming reality, now they will have to deal with the scariest word in their dictionaries; THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE.
The terrorists have challenged the bravery of the Iraqi people but they messed with the wrong people. The people have accepted the challenge; democracy and elections are not a luxury for Iraqis, it's an issue of life or death. And the terror brutal campaign has only made the people more determined to go on with the change.

The results of some recent polls that have shown how determined Iraqis are to hold the elections might have surprised you, but they weren't a surprise for us; we're not the kind of people that kneel to terror and the sights of blood and beheadings.

Saddam had tried all tools of oppression, killing and torture he could find against our people (including WMD's) but he failed to make the people believe in his hateful regime. And that's why the people abandoned him and now, he and his regime are just a bad old tale from the past.

On Sunday, the sun will rise on the land of Mesopotamia. I can't wait, the dream is becoming true and I will stand in front of the box to put my heart in it.
Doesn't that bring tears to your eyes?

Two days left until the Iraqis cement the process of implementing democracry for the first time in 5000 years!


More bluster from the terrorists

The Ansar al-Sunnah Army group has issued ultimatums to the Iraqi people.
Following in close succession to similar statements from Al-Qaida's Committee in Iraq and other militant groups, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army has issued two final "ultimatums" to the Iraqi people regarding the upcoming democratic national elections. The statements make clear that Ansar al-Sunnah is intent upon attacking voters, election centers, poll volunteers, and political candidates--even after the election is over. The Ansar al-Sunnah Army appears to be particularly focused on potential election targets in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It is still unclear how significant these threats of violence will be in deterring Iraqi voters from going to the polls.
It remains to be seen if they can carry them out.


This is encouraging

Centcom reports that Iraqi troops foiled an attempted car bombing and arrested two insurgents, one of whom was an Iraqi Police Officer. They had been planning to blow up a polling site.
Alpha Company, 1-112 Infantry, a National Guard company based out of the Pittsburgh area, and Soldiers from the 201st Iraqi Army Battalion established a hasty traffic control point Jan. 22 north of Tikrit, in the area called Kadasia, and swiftly apprehended two insurgents.

The Soldiers operating the traffic control point identified the suspected vehicle as it approached their position, slowed the vehicle and instructed the passengers to get out of the car. The occupants of the vehicle, one of whom was an Iraqi National Police officer, were found in possession of a 120-millimeter artillery round wired as an improvised explosive device.

The Explosive Ordinance Disposal team arrived on site and destroyed the device. Through questioning, the insurgents revealed their plan to place the explosive device at an elections polling site in the area.
The fact that they only had one artillery shell makes me wonder if the "insurgents" might be running low on materiel to do their dirty work.

The MNF has been uncovering and destroying weapons caches every day for the past few weeks (since Fallujah). Perhaps they've reduced the "insurgents'" ability to conduct effective attacks.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

PLEASE NOTE: Media Lies has moved.
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Will Sunday be a bad day?

Sunday is election day in Iraq. Many pundits say it will be a really bad day with lots of attacks and murders. Will it? If this post on the Powerline blog is any indication, Sunday just might surprise everyone with the lack of violence. I'm not saying nothing will happen — just that the violence might not reach the levels everyone seems to fear.
You wouldn't know it from reading your morning newspaper, but there is growing evidence that the Zarqawi terrorist ring, the number one threat to security in Iraq, is steadily being rolled up. Haider Ajina sent us this translation of an article that appeared in today's Arabic-language newspaper alsharq Alausat:
Iraqi police forces in Alkoot [southern Iraq near Basrah announced they arrested yesterday a member of Al Zarqawi's group in the city of AlKoot.

The chief of police said that the suspect is 29 years old and has confessed to murdering a number of police and national security men, and confessed to participating in a number of car bombings in Baghdad and other provinces. The police chief added that the suspect, who will remain anonymous due to ongoing interrogations, carried forged Iraqi documents and speaks in an Arabian Gulf Dialect [i.e. a dialect of the Arab countries on the Persian gulf] and had met with a number of armed terrorist cells that used to be in Felujah.
What we are seeing here seems to be the classic pattern of rolling up a criminal network. It may take a long time to get the first break, but as members begin to be caught and questioned, their information allows the apprehension of more members of the gang. The process tends to accelerate as more members are caught. In the Iraqi context, a foreseeable consequence is that the remaining gang members will panic; will need to communicate with electronically and perhaps in person to figure out who has been apprehended and who is still on the loose, and what the gang should do now; and that when they do so, they become more vulnerable to capture. On the eve of Iraq's election, this is very good news indeed.
Don't be surprised if a lot of people are surprised on Monday morning. We already know that the good news is grossly underreported. Furthermore, LA Times reported that 15,000 "insurgents" have been killed or detained in the past year. Now we're starting to see leaders arrested almost routinely, and they are singing like canaries.

I read somewhere today (if I can remember, I'll link it) that many of the recent bombings have been surprisingly ineffectual. It may just be that the terrorists have exhausted their capability to do serious damage on election day and their blustering rhetoric is much more bark than bite.

We can certainly hope so.



....points out the obvious.
How the LA Times deals with the "surprise news" of the number of terrorists killed or captured in Iraq:
U.S. forces killed or captured about 15,000 suspected militants in Iraq last year, the top U.S. commander in the country said Wednesday, suggesting that the American military has underestimated the strength of the insurgency.
I wonder how many LA Times readers knew that any "suspected militants" had been killed or captured in the past year?
Sad, isn't it?


If only....

....we weren't human, maybe things would work better. TJ talks about some of the frustrations of working in a war zone and dealing with a bureaucracy (which every military is, no matter what anyone says.)

Some things are shortsighted.
I was driving a senior Iraqi general home this evening. When we got to his apartment complex it was barred by American soldiers. No one could come in or out. After a lengthy and somewhat heated discussion with the soldiers, they finally caved and let me drive him in. But think about that. American soldiers are blocking an entire little neighborhood of Baghdad, guilty of nothing worse than living in a sensitive area, from leaving their homes between 6pm to 6am. Again, I see the point. But I don't see the justice or sense in holding people prisoner in their own homes, especially not when those people include the leadership we expect to work with us and take over from us on security issues.
Some things are just plain stupid.
I was driving recently in the Green Zone, when I saw ahead of me a convoy of HMMWVs (unfairly maligned vehicles for technical reasons I'm glad to discuss). There was a sign on the back of the rear HMMWV, but I couldn't read it, so I kept accelerating to overtake them. It was only when I was about 25 yards behind the tail vehicle that I could finally read the bilingual sign. It said "STAY BACK 300 METERS OR DEADLY FORCE WILL BE USED"

We were in the Green Zone so I was ok, but I felt a flash of great anger on behalf of the innocent Iraqi civilians who could so easily fall afoul of such a shortsighted (literally!) message.
Bureaucracies are always a pain to deal with. It's just too easy for people to say, "I have my orders", and let common sense fly out the window. Sometimes the consequences are extreme frustration, like TJ is feeling right now.

Sometimes the consequences are deadly.


Shiites and the Iraqi elections

Through the prism of Sheik Adnan Aidani, the Washington Post examines the attitudes of Shiite Iraqis in southern Iraq. It's a lengthy but interesting piece that delves into the reasons people will vote
"We have to participate," said Amir, standing before a shelf lined with small packets of cardamom, pepper, sesame, shredded coconut and baking soda. "We don't want to feel regret in the future that we didn't participate."

A customer, Munir Ahmed, jumped in: "We wish the election was today, not tomorrow."
to their attitude toward Iyad Allawi
Conversations in Yusufan, though, tend to defy the stereotypes. Allawi, running as an incumbent, often generates praise, and at the very least, respect. To some, he's seen as formidable, drawing on Iraqi admiration for toughness. Many view him as capable, relaxed, unburdened by the rhetoric of the past and unhindered by ties to Iran fostered by some Islamic groups. A few note that he sprinkles his language with Arabic from the south, in contrast to the heavy dialect of Tikrit spoken by ousted president Saddam Hussein.

Shahim, one villager said in describing him -- decent and noble.
to their memories of abandonment by the coalition in 1991.
Hardly a conversation about history in Yusufan passes without a mention of the 1991 rebellion. Convinced of U.S. support, the rebels seized cities and towns all the way to the approaches of Baghdad. That support never came, though, an unforgivable betrayal to many here. Hussein soon exacted his revenge, with his troops leveling historic swaths of Shiite towns, bombarding shrines in Najaf and Karbala and executing thousands on the spot. Perhaps as many as 100,000 were massacred in reprisal killings.
The US has abandoned far too many in the past as they yearned for freedom. President Bush's call to abandon the callous policies of the past should be heeded by all Americans and guide our government in all its future dealings.

Let us never again abandon people seeking freedom in their hour of need.


Another crack in the wall

AP reports that King Abdullah will introduce democractic reforms in Jordan.
In a televised speech, Abdullah said he wanted to "address all our brethren in Iraq, of all groups and spectrums, and call on them to take part in the elections to be held in a few days."

The king then unveiled plans to establish elected councils to oversee development in Jordan. He did not explain how the new councils would work with existing local authorities, half of whose members are appointed by the government.

"I assert here that political development should start at the grass roots, then move up to decision-making centers, and not vice versa," the king said.
Despite what many say about King Abdullah, he has been an ally of the US, and he has steered his country toward a more open society against great resistance from the conservative muslim leaders.

This is an encouraging sign, especially since all politics is local. If Jordanians begin to enjoy democratically electing local development councils, it probably won't be long before they are agitating for more reforms.


This is....

Immediately upon returning from the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holiest ritual, a Kuwaiti man who worked for the Islamic Affairs Ministry savagely murdered his 14-year old daughter in front of her brothers and sister—because he believed she was having sex: Kuwaiti 'slit daughter's throat'.

An autopsy showed she was still a virgin when she died.
He allegedly bound and blindfolded his daughter, Haifa, knelt her down in front of her two brothers and sister and then cut her throat.

Forensic tests showed Haifa was still a virgin, police sources said. Mr Enezi is being questioned about the case. ...

The suspect - who is also undergoing mental health tests - was separated from his wife, and has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for 18 months for his extremist activities, the al-Rai al-Am newspaper reported.

The daily said that after cutting Haifa's throat the first time, he swapped the knife for one with a sharper blade as she bled and screamed in front of her siblings.

Al-Qabas daily said the brothers and sister fled from the house after the murder, while their uncle took their sister to a hospital, but she had already died.
Spare me the platitudes. If this is the Islam religion, then it should be wiped from the face of the earth until not even its memory remains.


How does he do it?

Not only does Arthur Chrenkoff crank out Good News from Iraq every fourteen days, but he publishes Good News from Afghanistan as well. Today he published his fourth Good News From the Muslim World. Where does he get the energy?


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

PLEASE NOTE: Media Lies has moved.
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Congress finally gets a clue?

The WA Times has begun an editorial series on the issues confronting the US military. In this first issue, the question of troop strength is discussed.
Official Washington is quickly reaching consensus that U.S. ground forces need to be bolstered by a significant margin over the long-term. The proposals are in the range of 40,000 to 150,000 more troops. We're inclined toward the high end of those proposals, and maybe even higher.

Historically speaking, expenditures on ground troops are absurdly low, even by peacetime standards. As the Congressional Budget Office's September 2004 report on long-term defense spending showed, U.S. expenditures on ground forces are about half what they were at the height of the Reagan defense buildup in the mid-1980s, when the United States was without a hot war to fight and waged the Cold War mostly by proxy.

That decline -- most evident at the Cold War's end and reaching a nadir during the Clinton administration -- was unsustainable well before the September 11 attacks. All the more is it unsustainable afterward, in an era with new and challenging commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

As retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales pointed out on the opposite page yesterday, these days, if all Army and Marine infantrymen were collected together in one place, they wouldn't even fill FedEx Field. It hasn't always been this way. Five years after World War II ended, amid the postwar "peace dividend" and a pre-Korean War retrenchment, the end-strength of the U.S. Army was almost 700,000. Right now, it's about 480,000.

Last week, Senate Democrats, including John Kerry and Carl Levin -- the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee -- proposed increasing the Army and the Marines by 40,000 over the next two years. In a statement explaining the move, Sen. Levin pointed up troop needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even in the short term this won't do: The Army estimates it takes about two years for any increases to affect the number of "boots on the ground" at all, so Iraq and Afghanistan would scarcely benefit.
Keep in mind, these are the same bozos who were all too happy to spend the "peace dividend" at the end of the Cold War on all their pet projects.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are equally guilty. So are the "experts". Everyone was falling all over themselves trying to spend the Pentagon's budget on "other" priorities. After the Republicans regained the majority in 1994, they continued the Clinton administration's policy of gutting the military, against the advice of real experts like Colin Powell.

Arguments like this were made routinely back in the salad days of the "peace dividend".
Although some significant savings might be achieved if the Pentagon were to undertake further changes in the roles and missions of the armed forces, there is little prospect of that occurring. The roles, missions, and functions report, released by then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell in February 1993 largely ratified the existing structure and security strategy. The General Accounting Office found that the report did not recommend significant reductions in overlapping functions and that the depth of analysis of many functions was insufficient for proposing more extensive changes.(11)

Congress was so frustrated with General Powell's report that as part of FY94 defense legislation it created its own Roles and Missions Commission of outside experts. They are scheduled to provide recommendations to the secretary of defense later this year. There are many areas in which they could offer suggestions, including redundancy in air superiority, conventional strategic attack, interdiction, and close air support; air and missile defense; and duplication of expeditionary (i.e., intervention) forces by the Army and the Marines.
Now that our troops are suffering from the shortsightedness of our representatives, everyone is clamoring for change, falling all over themselves to "support the troops". If they had been serious about supporting the troops in the 1990's, our troops wouldn't be overextended now.

As I've written before on this subject, for every person in Iraq, you need two more at home — one training and one resting. With almost 150,000 in theatre now, you need 300,000 more at home. Add to that deployments all over the world — South Korea, Kosovo, Germany, etc. — and there are no troops left to send to Iraq.

Perhaps now our shortsighted representatives will finally heed the wise aphorism — the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. You can't be vigilent when you have no one left to guard the entrance.


Fer cryin' out loud....

....let the man speak for himself. AP reports, with the headline "Top U.S. Commander: Iraq Forces Not Ready"
The top American commander in Iraq (news - web sites) on Wednesday said U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces were still not ready to take over the counterinsurgency and there was no guarantee they will ever be able to defeat it on their own.

Gen. George Casey said the 130,000 Iraqi police and soldiers still lack leaders to direct them in a fight against rebels, and local police forces who've deserted in the thousands in the face of intimidation and withering assaults by guerrillas remain a key weak point.

Training and equipping Iraqi troops to eventually take the lead role here is a central pillar in U.S. efforts to rein in insurgents and eventually pull American and other foreign troops out of the country. But the Iraqi forces have been criticized for poor training and lack of leadership.
So there's no hope that they'll ever be able to handle security in their country, right?
"Can I sit here and look you in the eye and say that the Iraqi security forces guaranteed 100 percent are going to be able to defeat this insurgency by themselves? Of course not," Casey said.

"From what I've seen in the seven months that I've been here, I believe that we can achieve capable Iraqi security forces over a period of time that can deal with the Iraqi insurgency that's here."
Wait. Just a minute ago you said.....I mean the reporter said that you said "there was no guarantee they will ever be able to defeat [the insurgency] on their own." Oh, I get it. The reporter put words in your mouth....or rather he turned your words around.

Damn reporters.


It ain't over 'til it's over

Editor and Publisher reports that Marcel Matley, one of the document examiners that CBS used is for the Bush Guard document story not at all happy with the Boccardi-Thornburgh report and is demanding corrections.
"It is professional defamation," Matley, a 20-year document expert, told E&P, from his home in San Francisco. "When you are in a court of law, it can make the difference between being considered credible or not."

He said the report has already hurt his professional reputation, claiming it was mentioned last week during his appearance in a Modesto, Calif., courtroom on a probate case. "Someone brought it up that I was the one who made the mistake in the '60 Minutes' case," he said. "I've already had this thrown at me."

Matley told E&P he had yet to hear back from CBS or Thornburgh about the e-mail. "They have not acknowledged my existence," he declared. "They have not even replied."
CBS treated their document experts pretty shabbily during the Rathergate affair, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them continue the treatment.

But I don't get the impression that Matley will go gently into the good night.
In his e-mail, Matley said there were some "excellent qualities" in Thornburgh and Boccardi's report, but he also cited 18 separate examples of alleged inaccurate or defamatory statements in the 234-page document, which the panel released on Jan. 5.

He claims he asked the review panel to tape-record its interview with him, which he says the investigators declined to do. "The panel bears the burden for all lapses in accuracy due to lack of a verbatim record," his e-mail states. He also complains that several findings in the report were based on unnamed sources, which he would like revealed.

Among his 18 examples of alleged inaccuracies or defamation:
  • Two statements that indicate Matley is not a typography specialist, which he contends is false.

  • A statement that Matley used the unclear phrase "consistent inconsistencies" to explain why he believed signatures from different documents matched. He claims he never used such a phrase, which appears to refer to the unusual ways in which the signatures were similar.

  • Stating that "60 Minutes" should "maintain a list of document examiners who are qualified to provide opinions as needed," which Matley says implies he is not qualified. He also cited a statement in the report that "there was no effort to find the best examiners possible" as hurting his professional reputation.

  • Statements in different parts of the report that describe Matley as both "timid" and "hostile" at times. "That is a subjective judgment that is entirely false," his e-mail says.

  • A statement in the report of Dan Rather's impression that Matley had authenticated all the documents. "I do not gainsay the honesty of his personal impressions," Matley writes in the e-mail. "But I assert categorically that I never stated nor intended to imply anything beyond my 'carefully circumscribed' observations and opinions as expressed in my written notes of eight points."
This seems to me to be a man who is serious about protecting his professional reputation. It should be interesting to watch this story develop. (Hat tip to Greyhawk.)


Time for my interview

Jennifer Larson, of Jennifer's History and Stuff, is ready to do my interview. (I mentioned this at the beginning of the month.) If there's anything that you'd like to know about me, please submit your questions to Jennifer at jenlarson@gmail.com.

The only question I won't answer is who I am (see About Me, up on the right.)


Putting it in words....

....that maybe even the left can understand. Alaa has a bone to pick with the Human Rights Watch folks, who recently complained about the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib by the Iraqis.[emphasis mine]
With all due respect to Human Rights Watch and such similar organizations; we find the timing of the report about abuses by the Iraqi security forces against captured terrorist suspects, highly suspicious coming at this particular time. Of course, all acts of brutality against innocents are highly reprehensible and quite unacceptable; however, if it is certain that the suspects in question are some of the be-headers, mass murderers and perpetrators of the daily atrocities and flagrant aggression against a whole people, they deserve to be skinned alive. Moreover, really, to ask for perfect behavior of the security forces in the present circumstances, is like asking for immaculate English eating manners and bow ties at a cannibal feast in the heart of the jungle.

In fact, most of the recent successes in capturing and rounding up terrorists can be attributed to the toughening of interrogation methods used by the Iraqi security forces. That; unfortunately, is the grim reality of the situation. It is a dilemma difficult to resolve.
I couldn't have said it better myself.


Iraqis say they will vote

Friends of Democracy published the results of a poll that shows, despite the violence, many Iraqis intend to vote.
72.4 % of all of those polled said they would participate in the elections. [Ed.: If so, Iraqi voting will vastly outstrip participation here in the U.S., where 56% of eligible voters contributed to a record turnout in 2004.]

97% of Iraqis in Kurdistan said they would participate in the elections.

96% of Iraqis in the southern provinces (mainly Shiite areas) said they would participate in the elections.

33% of Iraqis in the central provinces (Sunni Area) said they would participate in the elections.

10% of Iraqis in Central provinces (Sunni Area) said they have not yet made their mind if they were going to vote or not.

62.1% of those polled said that the elections will be neutral and free.

17.8% said elections will not be neutral and free.

66% said that the elections must take place under current circumstances.

53.3% said the security is good in their area.

21.7% said that security was average in their area.

25% said that security was bad in their area.
Gee, I thought security was terrible all over Iraq.


Centcom reports

314 individuals have been detained in Mosul since Jan 5, 2005 and numerous weapons caches have been confiscated and destroyed.

A Marine transport helicopter has crashed in western Iraq. Reader Bill Bright reports that 31 Marines have died in the crash. The cause of the crash is not yet known.

AP has picked up the story and also reports five other US military dead in separate incidents.
A Marine transport helicopter crashed during sandstorms in Iraq (news - web sites)'s western desert Wednesday, killing 31 troops, while insurgents killed five other American military personnel in the deadliest day for U.S. forces since the Iraq war began.
Today is a very bad day for the Marines.

UPDATE: Eight Iraqis were rescued when US troops apparently interrupted a kidnapping in progress. Five suspects were detained and a number of weapons were confiscated.

UPDATE 2: In an ironic twist of fate, one of the Marines killed in the helicopter crash today was from Texas, and his father was a door gunner on choppers in Vietnam.

UPDATE 3: Correction — there were 30 Marines and one sailor killed in the helicopter crash, not 31 Marines as I previously reported.


Athena reports from Jordan....

....that Iraqi TV and radio are aggressively promoting the elections.
Iraqi television channels have done a thorough job of
promoting voter participation, and have frequently carried
public-information advertisements urging Iraqis to vote. However, the
ads give little information about where and how to vote. Iraqi radio
has also devoted much time to election coverage, particularly
stations that support a radio call-in format.
Generally speaking, the media overwhelmingly supports
elections at this time, and takes great pains to stress that it is
the duty of Iraqis to take part in the election. Some stress a
historical duty, while others stress a religious duty; still others
claim that nonparticipation will only strengthen terrorist elements
trying to destabilize the country.
Just another example of the value of blogs.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

PLEASE NOTE: Media Lies has moved.
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Please adjust your bookmarks.

The blood is in the water....

....and the media will be circling, looking for more "victims".

I haven't commented at all on the Armstrong WIlliams fiasco. There's been plenty of that in the blogosphere. Now Michelle Malkin reveals that another conservative writer was accepting payments from a government agency to promote the Bush administration's initiatives.
You all know how I feel about the Bush administration's media "pay-to-pander" scandal. (Go here and here and here for a refresher.) In two word: absolutely disgusted. When I first blogged about the Armstrong Williams payoff, I wrote this:

Any other pundits who accepted money from the Bush administration, whether from the Education Department or any other bureaucracy, should come forward now and disclose. And then they should immediately return the money.

Williams refused to return the money he took to promote Bush's education and now he's crying "witch hunt." No other conservative commentators volunteered to come forward and disclose whether they had taken Bush administration money--tax dollars--for similar schemes. So now, Drudge has a preview of Howard Kurtz's Washington Post article tomorrow exposing a conservative writer I have long admired, Maggie Gallagher.

In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families. But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal...

Can't tell you how deeply disappointed I am to read this, especially given that Gallagher has been a fearless and independent (or so I had thought) voice in defense of traditional marriage.
Suffice it to say that I agree completely with Michelle, both on the writers taking payment and the government for paying them.

Stupidity comes in both colors — blue and red.


Now this is reporting

The Christian Science Monitor has been following the Methboubs of Baghdad since before the war. Now, among other things, they report on the family's feelings about voting.
Sitting in her dark, cramped apartment during another seemingly interminable power failure, Karima Selman Methboub promises to cast aside her family's fears of violence and doubts about the new Iraq to vote in landmark elections on Sunday.

"We are under the mercy of Allah - I will take all my family with me," says the matriarch, nodding at some of her eight children. "If something will happen, we will all die together."

"We will go directly, suddenly, do our job there, and come back," says Mrs. Methboub, making clear that no car bombs will stop her from a process that, she says, could hardly make things worse.
With a morose fatalism borne of resignation and weariness, families like the Methboubs all over Iraq will go to the polls on Sunday, January 30th (just five days from now!), determined to change their future, knowing that their walk to the polls could be their last living act, convinced that there is nothing else they can do. May God be with them, and may the work the coalition forces are doing make their trip to the polls the first day of the rest of their lives — living in a democracy of their choosing.


All of a sudden....

....it's "political violence"?
An American kidnapped in November pleaded for his life in a video aired Tuesday, and at least a dozen Iraqis died in Baghdad as political violence continued to plague the country five days before Sunday's crucial elections for a new National Assembly.
Political violence? Please!

This isn't politcal violence. This is malicious, hateful, evil insanity. This is treachery of the worst kind. Don't belittle by calling it political violence. Iraqis are dying every day. So are Americans. Have the cojones to call it what it is - murderous butchery of the worst kind.


Victory comes in steps....

....one foot in front of the other until the job is done.
For the men of Charlie 1-8 Cav, it had been a typically tough week in a dispiriting year of chasing ghosts.

One night they were ambushed by an attacker who melted away before they could return fire. Another night they raided a suspected insurgent safe house but found it empty - and the neighbors professing ignorance, as usual. Every day they searched homes and cars, hunting for the extremists planning attacks to disrupt Sunday's election. Almost every day they seemed to come up dry.

Then, Sunday, they hit the jackpot.
And the jackpot was?
From two nondescript houses they pass every day, the troops pulled out three 100-pound bags of plastic explosives and fertilizer, 51 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 16,000 rounds of ammunition, dozens of rifles and machine guns, and eight mobile-phone-connected switches for setting off roadside bombs. Most of the arms were in barrels, buried in the front yard.

Perhaps the most chilling finds were artillery shells fashioned into the kind of bomb that has routinely killed American soldiers; a pressure switch used by suicide attackers; eight Iraqi police uniforms and several police radios; several black ski masks of the sort worn by the people who have beheaded hostages on videotape.

The troops of 1-8 Cav have uncovered a number of such caches in recent months - one reason, they believe, that the frequency of attacks in their sector has diminished since November.
All this happened because an American military man was doing his job — paying attention and following up on leads.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could read these stories more often? (Hat tip to Mudville Gazette.)


More terrorist confessions

Hammorabi reports that Al-Fayha, an Iraqi TV satellite channel had a TV show where they aired terrorists' confessions for all the viewers to see. The confessions are quite interesting.

Third: The terrorist group financed by the Saudis as well as trained and prepared (brain washed) by Saudis. This brain wash started inside their original countries for some time

Fourth: There are Saudis, Syrians and Iraqis from previous regime in Syria to coordinate and rallying with agents in the Arab and foreign countries to get the duped youths and bring them to Syria. This occurs under supervision of Saudis who travel from and to Syria.

Fifth: The Arab media especially Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabyah TV plays major role in the whole process of terrorists rallying into Iraq.

Sixth: One of the most important issues used in rallying is Abo-Ghraeb scandal and they also tell them that Iraq is in a total war with the USA which kill, torture and rape in Iraq.


Ninth: There are agents in the Iraqi police working with the terrorists especially in Falluja.


Twelfth: Most of the terrorists are among the uneducated and know none or very little about the religion and they blindly follow any Mullah in Al-Jazeera or the internet. One of the most influential Fatwa on them was the one which was issued by the 22 Saudi Wahabi Sheikhs.
Now that the information is out in the public, the Bush administration should make pointed inquiries of the Syrians, the Iranians and especially the Saudis. Anything less would be very disappointing.

The Syrians could easily stop the border crossings. The Iranians could stop sheltering the Ba'athists, and the Saudis should stop supporting terrorism while lying about what they are doing. It's time for Bush to call them all on the carpet.


Two can play that game

The Media Research Center noticed that NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski compared spending in Iraq with the EPA's budget in a recent report.
Relaying how the "administration is going to ask Congress tomorrow for about $80 billion more in emergency funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Miklaszewski explained "that brings the total to $105 billion" for the fiscal year. "By comparison," he emphasized, "that's 13 times the budget for the entire Environmental Protection Agency."
So, in the interest of fairness, the MRC points out
The Iraq/Afghanistan spending is also one-fifth of the $510 billion set to be spent this year on Social Security and NASA spends twice as much as the EPA.

True conservatives would argue that the $7.8 billion allocated annually for the EPA is about $7.8 billion too much.
True conservatives would point out that we don't need the Education Department either. That would save another $57.3 billion.

What every happened to that idea anyway?


Syrian and Iranian involvement in Iraq....

....confirmed by Muayed Al-Nasseri, who commanded Saddam Hussein 's "Army of Muhammad" throughout 2004. MEMRI provides an English translation of a televised interrogation of Al-Nasseri in which he states [emphasis in original]
Interrogator: "Did you get support from the countries of the region?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "Yes, sir... Many factions of the resistance are receiving aid from the neighbouring countries. We in the Army of Muhammad - the fighting has been going on for almost two years now, and there must be aid, and this aid came from the neighbouring countries. We got aid primarily from Iran. The truth is that Iran has played a significant role in supporting the Army of Muhammad and many factions of the resistance. I have some units, especially in southern Iraq, which receive Iranian aid in the form of arms and equipment."

Interrogator: "You're referring to units of the Army of Muhammad?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "Yes. They received money and weapons."

"[Fighters] Met Personally with Iranian Leader Khamenei [...]. They Even Got Car Bombs"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "As for other factions of the resistance, I have reliable information regarding the National Islamic resistance, which is one of the factions of resistance, led by Colonel 'Asi Al Hadithi. He sent a delegation to Iran from among the people of the faction, including General Halaf and General Khdayyer. They were sent to Iran in April or May and met with Iranian intelligence and with a number of Iranian leaders and even with Khamenei."

Interrogator: "You mean they personally met with Khamenei?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "According to my information, they met with him personally and they were given one million dollars and two cars full of weapons. They still have a very close relationship with Iran. They receive money, cars, weapons and many things. According to my information they even got car bombs."

"Cooperation with Syria began in October 2003 [...]. Later, Saddam Hussein himself authorised me to go to Syria"

Muayed Al-Nasseri "In addition, as I've told you, Syria [...]. Cooperation with Syria began in October 2003, when a Syrian intelligence officer contacted me. S'ad Hamad Hisham and later Saddam Hussein himself authorised me to go to Syria. So I was sent to Syria. I crossed the border illegally. Then I went to Damascus and met with an intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel ' Abu Naji ' through a mediator called ' Abu Saud '. I raised the issues that preoccupied Saddam Hussein and the leadership. There were four issues: First, the issue of the media; second, political support in international forums; [third], aid in the form of weapons and [fourth], material aid, whether it is considered a debt or is taken from the frozen Iraqi funds in Syria."

"The Syrian government is fully aware of this, and the Syrian intelligence cooperates fully"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "Through the [Syrian] Ba'th party - the [Iraqi] Arab Socialist Ba'th Party operates in Syria with complete freedom. It maintains its relations and organises the Ba'th members outside Iraq. The Syrian government is fully aware of this and the Syrian intelligence, as well as the [Syrian] Ba'th Party cooperates fully in Syria.

As for the Ba'th Party, after we contacted them, they organised a meeting for me with a man named Fawzi Al-Rawi, who is a member of the national leadership and an important figure in Syria. The Syrian government authorised him to meet with me. We met twice. In the first meeting, I explained to him what the Army of Muhammad is, what kind of operations we carry out, and many other things. In the second meeting he told me that Syrian government officials were very pleased with our first meeting. He informed me that the Army of Muhammad would receive material aid in the form of goods, given to us for free or for a very low price, for us to sell in Iraq in order to support the Army of Muhammad. This was done this way due to Syria's current circumstances, international pressure and accusations of supporting the terrorism and resistance in Iraq."

Interrogator: "During our investigation we found a picture of a Syrian man. What is this picture?"

Muayed Al-Nasseri: "This is the picture of an Islamic preacher called ' Abu Al-Qa'qa', whose [real] name is Mahmoud Al-Agassi. He lives in Aleppo, Syria. I have met with him twice. He supported me and gave me $3,000. He also sent a sum of money with me for someone in the resistance here in Iraq.

Also, I forgot to mention that Fawzi Al-Rawi told me he had close connections with many factions of the resistance. He mentioned his Hareth Al-Dhari [leader of Iraqi Sunni Clerics Association], Mahdi Al-Sumayda'i, and other factions."
This "interrogation" strikes me as odd. Either Al-Nasseri was worn down to the point that he didn't care or he was drugged with some sort of truth serum. His answers seem too forthcoming, and the information he gives is too damning.


Iraqi election ads

These are a must see. When you click on Play, you'll be viewing a sequence of ads on Iraq that are quite compelling, especially the third one. The last is really interesting as well. (Hat tip to Friends of Democracy.)


Possible terror connections?

Michelle Malkin has an exclusive on a plane forced to land by the feds.
Last night, feds forced down a plane of suspected illegal aliens south of San Antonio who they say were illegally flying in American airspace. The suspected were reportedly Chinese. This detail caught my eye:

Online records of the Federal Aviation Administration show that the 20-year-old plane is co-owned by Afzal Hameed of Dover, Del. The other co-owner is listed as Alyce S. Taylor, but no address is given for her.

The FAA records state that the plane's last three-year registration was filed in 1999, and that the agency received no response in 2002 after mailing new registration forms to Hameed.

Hmmm. The obvious question is whether there is a Boston connection here; newspaper reports about the mystery plane have all mentioned last week's terror scare. Another issue below the surface is what the FAA has done to scrutinize plane registrations since Sept. 11. How many smugglers or terrorists may be operating right under the feds' nose?
Michelle has a bunch of follow-up information here, including this.
The co-owner of the plane, Afzal Hameed, is president of Alpha Tango Flying Services in San Antonio, which trains pilots and mechanics.

Guess who trained at Alpha Tango Flying Services--which, by the way, caters to Saudi Arabian flight students(!!!!):

Among their clients were three Arab flight students investigated by the FBI, including Al Qaeda operative Abdul Hakim Murad , who was arrested in Manila in 1995 and later convicted in New York of plotting to blow up a dozen U.S. airliners over the Pacific, then crash a suicide plane into CIA headquarters.
It may be nothing. Then again....

UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News picked up the story just after noon today.