Saturday, June 14, 2003

ITS THE FRENCH AGAIN. Draw your own conclusions.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The first-ever pyramid of Shoes Against Landmines came to Iraq’s capital city Friday, displayed in a run-down park in the middle of a Baghdad traffic circle.

The pyramid served to draw attention to the cause of Handicap International, a French, nonprofit organization aimed at stopping the use of land mines.

But for the half-dozen homeless Iraqi children who seek safety daily by hanging around U.S. soldiers providing security at the nearby Palestine Hotel, they saw the pyramid not as a political statement, but as an opportunity to clad their bare feet with new shoes.

They went away barefooted.

Read the whole thing here.

HOW MANY HAVE TO IMPLODE before we no longer have an Axis?
Hundreds of police had attempted to lock down Iran's capital yesterday after three nights of protests and clashes between democracy supporters and militants aligned with Iran's hard-line Islamic regime...

...Criticism of the supreme ayatollah is usually punished by imprisonment, and public calls for his death had been unheard of until this week.

Something for us to keep an eye on. Read it here.

REPORTEDLY HE LEFT TOWN WITH A BILLION DOLLARS in cash...is the only human being who can complete an international call from inside Iraq...and still he writes his letters by hand? Which part of this just doesn't quite add up?
It is unclear if the letter is authentic and even if Saddam Hussein is still alive. But the editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abdel-Bari Atwan, says the newspaper will print the letter Saturday.

Mr. Atwan says the handwriting and signature on the letter are the same as four others attributed to Saddam Hussein and faxed to the newspaper after the Iraq war. Mr. Atwan says he has no indication where the letter, dated June 12, was faxed from.

Read the rest here.
MORE PROGRESS.
Bremer told the House committee that while security remains a problem throughout the country, electricity and water have been restored to many regions, in some cases to levels exceeding their pre-war levels.

"Things are much better here than they were two months ago," Bremer said. "Our focus now is on the economy and the rather important challenge of creating jobs."

Bremer said he is pursuing a two-stage approach to job creation in Iraq.

The first step is to pump money into the Iraqi economy by hiring Iraqi day laborers and military personnel to help with construction projects, an effort for which he established a $100 million fund Tuesday. The money is drawn from the Iraqi central bank and assets seized by the United States and its allies.

The second phase is helping Iraqis design an entrepreneurial private sector, which in turn will create jobs.

Given the condition of the economy, the hobbled oil industry and the country's socialist leanings, however, phase two is "going to take longer," he said.

Bremer said American occupation forces would begin training a new Iraqi military to take over some security duties and give jobs to defeated enemies.

Read it here.


I SUPPOSE SOME MAY NOT get how, having survived combat, one is anxious to re-enlist. This Marine is doing just that.
“We tagged ’em, bagged ’em, we drove ’em down” for questioning. One (Iraqi officer) got scared and he started crying and giving us information. We persuaded the other two to confirm the story.”

Indeed.

Read his story here.
PROGRESS.
Qatar Airways became the first airline to operate commercial air services into Iraq in 12 years, when it began twice-weekly flights into the southern Iraqi city of Basra on June 10.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker flew on the inaugural flight from Qatar Airways’ hub in Doha Qatar, to Basra last Tuesday.

Flight QR476 also carried much needed human and medicine aid — a present from the people of Qatar to the people of Iraq.

Read it here.
BY THE WAY. Today is also the deadline for Iraqis to give up their weapons. But I'm not betting the farm on that happening.
ANOTHER GOOD REASON TO CONTRIBUTE to those raising school supplies for Baghdad can be found here.
On the humanitarian front, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned today that the situation in Baghdad was "ripe for exploitation of children" following a flurry of news reports indicating an increase in the number of children on the streets of the capital.

In the chaos of the post-war environment, UNICEF said, normal community networks for the protection of children were not fully functioning, and the agency strongly supported getting all Iraqi children back to school as a way of protecting them from exploitation and injury.
CAN THERE BE ANY MORE SUCCINCT, IF UNINTENDED INDICTMENT of the welfare state, and its effect upon the self-sufficiency of its citizenry? When one will sell one's freedom for an entitlement to bread, democracy and economy are unlikely to flourish, but tyranny may.
But locals said the harsh U.S. crackdown would only alienate Iraqis and stir up discontent.

"What does America expect? We are eating bread from the same flour that Saddam distributed. The United States has not done anything for Iraq," said Jasem al-Obeidi.

The article is here.
EVERYONE WANTS TO HELP Part 2. Received a note today from the Administrative Assistant at The Baptist Courier, the publication of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. At the encouragement of CPT Patti's mother-in-law, she sent me this link. Thanks Mom...and thanks to those at the Courier.
South Carolina Baptists are sending nearly 2,800 food boxes to war-torn Iraqi families as a part of a larger International Mission Board effort that is expected to collect as many as 95,000 boxes from Southern Baptist churches across the country.

The food boxes, each containing enough food to feed an Iraqi family of five for about a month, were collected at three sites in South Carolina: First Church, North Spartanburg; the South Carolina Baptist Convention building in Columbia; and the Charleston Association offices...

...When Mike Hamlet, pastor of First Church and Phillips, associate pastor, realized that the complicated guidelines for packing the boxes might discourage participation, they asked their congregation to buy 22 tons of the specified food items from local grocers to set up a warehouse in its fellowship hall.

Church members and community residents then paid $60 and took shopping carts down the aisles. At each stop, a sign indicated how much of a particular item was needed. They took their filled carts to an assembly area, where volunteers helped them pack boxes correctly, before loading them on a truck...

...In addition to nearly 70 pounds of staple food items, each box has a note that includes John 1:17 in Aramaic.

“Every time an Iraqi family opens a box, they will see a label that says it is a gift of love from Southern Baptist churches in America,” Phillips noted. “That’s a witness for Christ.”

John 1:17 reads: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


IN HONOR THE THE ARMY'S BIRTHDAY I want to quote the late MG Jim Wright, the 45th Quartermaster General. Were he alive today he would say:
Two-hundred and twenty eight years ago today the Continental Congress authorized the creation of the United States Army. Two days later, when that Army got hungry, they created the Quartermaster Corps.

Go Gators...keep doin' good in Baghdad.
SATURDAY, JUNE 14TH. THE 34th day of CPT Patti's deployment. Fittingly, it is Flag Day and it is the Army's 228th Birthday. No word from our girl since last Sunday.

Learned from some others in the Gator family that the e-mail connection CPT Patti used last Sunday is not dependable in the least, which would go a long way to explain no contact since then. And the phone situation isn't getting better with any haste. Still, we hear that the Gators mostly work out of the Police College and the Shaab Stadium - which are considered secure enough that soldliers are not required to wear their body armor nor Kevlar helmets. That is a huge advantage for our folks, as they work in incredible heat.

Keep praying for our girl, please.

Friday, June 13, 2003

EVERYONE WANTS TO HELP. That was the subject line of a note I got from a long time dear friend whom we shall refer to as Defense Contractor Guy. Having noted that wide athletic tape is one of the things CPT Patti always needs since she has some trouble with her feet...well, you read it.
"I was at physical therapy (turns out I have the back of a 70 yr old) and mentioned that I have a friend in Iraq. They just kicked in 4 very large rolls of atheletic tape for Patti - I'll be putting a package together to send off this week."

Folks, I cant begin to adequately express my gratitude to the friends and family and strangers who continue to step forward for our girl, her troops, and the people learning to be free. God bless you all.

DEMOCRACY 101. Soldiers do it all.
Baghdad -- U.S. Army Lt. Tom Casey and the rest of the 1st Platoon are combat soldiers, armed and trained to take out enemy fighters. But in recent weeks, their mission has expanded, and now they are trying to help build grassroots democracy in Iraq...

...When they are not out chasing criminals and confiscating weapons, they and many other soldiers stationed in Iraq are at the forefront of an experiment in nation-building whose success or failure could well be the difference between a successful U.S. occupation of Iraq -- or disaster...

...In just three weeks, however, they have helped Baghdad's residents select 56 neighborhood councils. They have about 30 more to go -- and by the end of June hope to have established an interim City Council.

"We had to task it to the military because, as usual, they are the only guys on the ground and with sufficient numbers," said Lt. Col. P.J. Durmer, who works with the U.S.-led civil administration...

Yep. The rest is here.
SUPERBLY WRITTEN ARTICLE from the Washington Post.
"He exceeded what he should have done," he said of Halling. "And that's why these three men sitting here in front of you today are alive."

"Some people label soldiers 'heroes' who don't reach that level, in my professional opinion," said Sgt. Chris Dozier, the ramrod-straight and tall leader of the 2nd platoon of the 401st Military Police Company out of Fort Hood, Tex., to which Halling belonged. "But Jesse was a hero. And that is what every soldier in the platoon thinks about him."

The room grew smaller, and the soldiers found a wall to stare at for a couple of minutes, blinking.

It is a must read, and you can find it here.
WISH I'D THOUGHT OF THIS. But instead, I ripped it off from The Dissident Frogman.
Just another thought about the WMD buzz on the fact that, 80 years later, there are still passersby who regularly - and totally unexpectedly - step on unexploded WWI shells in the north-east of France.

We're talking about a rather small area, rather populated and cultivated by men over 80 years.

And shells that just fell there. Not hidden.

And not found either.
GUESS WHAT...IT MADE IT.
The girl released the balloon from the back door — her 14-year-old brother, Nicholas, told her that was the way to Bahrain.

Cierra stood in the back yard and watched the balloon float away until it disappeared over the horizon. That night, she wrote a letter to her dad.

“I am sending you a balloon with my address on it and yours so if you see a balloon floating, try to grab it daddy ’cause it’s from me because I wanted to see if it would work,” Cierra wrote. “I miss you very, very, very, very much.”

You've gotta read this.

DOUBTLESS NONE OF THESE GUYS will volunteer to work as Chancellor Schroeder's campaign manager...
Thirteen mayors of German cities came to Washington to plead their case: American troops are welcome, indeed necessary, in their communities.

But the mayors may not be flying home feeling all that good. The lord mayor of Kaiserslautern, Bernhard Deubig, told reporters that he asked members of Congress about a report in the Wall Street Journal that said some 75 percent of American forces in Germany could be withdrawn.

Read it all here.

SHOW THIS FOOTAGE ABOUT A THOUSAND TIMES and we'll declare the museum back to normal.
The Vase of Warka, one of the most treasured antiquities looted from Baghdad's famed museum after the fall of Saddam Hussein, was safely returned yesterday, officials said.
The ruling U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority said the vase, a centerpiece of the Baghdad Museum, was brought back by three Iraqis in a car and handed over to security staff at the museum, along with other looted items.

Of course this was the vase about which Secretary Rumsfeld quipped,

“Television is merely running the same footage of the same man stealing a vase over and over,” he joked, adding he didn't think there were that many vases in Iraq.

The whole thing is here.
I'D LIKE TO KNOW IF WE'LL BE TRAINING THEM. You can do worse than receive training from the best military force on the planet. And one would think those who had their butts handed to them by the Marines and the 3d ID might just be impressed enough to pay attention.
The task of building a new Iraqi military will get under way in the next few weeks at selected training and recruiting sites, the American administrator of Iraq said yesterday.

Speaking over a satellite video hookup from Baghdad, Paul Bremer said the project will serve not only to restore a necessary element of Iraq's long-term security but also address the short-term problem of hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers being without work since the war.

The rest is here.
IF THIS WERE TV NEWS instead of print media, would the editors have instructed the newscaster to hold up both hands and make the finger-quote gesture a la Dr. Evil?
U.S. troops have killed at least 70 people in a "terrorist" training camp in Iraq, a U.S. military spokesman said on Friday.

Hey Reuters...I think your bias is showing.

Read it here
.
THESE ARE OUR GUYS. Read about what they are doing.
This was a mission in which the chaplain went along — just in case.

Early on Thursday, roughly 250 soldiers of the 1st Armored Division raided one of the busiest downtown marketplaces in their first Operation Market Sweep, searching street vendors for weapons and drugs and trying to give order to the chaotic open-air bazaar.

“With an operation this large, and a chance of possible casualties, a chaplain always comes along,” said Maj. Bryan Walker, chaplain to the 1st Brigade of the 1st AD.

The whole story is here.
THIS IS MOSTLY GOOD TO HEAR although admittedly this is not deepest, darkest central Baghdad where CPT Patti is. But that lack of spare parts means CPT Patti and her folks are working like crazy.
Baghdad is no more dangerous than New York City, Col. Arnold Bray said Thursday in an interview from Iraq.

Bray is the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which is built around the 82nd Airborne Division's 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

On Tuesday, the 2nd Brigade suffered its first death since the war in Iraq began. The soldier was one of 10 American troops killed in Iraq in the past two weeks. But Bray said that while there is danger to the troops, it is not as bad as it is being depicted in news reports...

...The 82nd troops are being supplied by the 1st Armored Division. Bray said the soldiers are getting three bottles of water a day and at least one hot meal.

There has not been a shortage of water, he said, but most soldiers have been avoiding the purified water supplied to them in large tanks or "water buffaloes" because it gets hot. But as of Monday, Bray said, many of the water buffaloes will have ice in them.

One pressing supply problem is a lack of parts for the brigade's Humvees and trucks.

"The vehicles are not holding up at all," Staff Sgt. Damon S. Wodever said. He is in the 1st Battalion of the 325th. "It has been a major issue, as well as getting parts for them."

Read it all here.
BY WAY OF SUPER SIS-IN-LAW in California, she send this website where the cold packs can be purchased for a better deal than the lady in the earlier story gets.

You can get to the site by clicking here.

But for future reference you may also want to write down the site address. It is

www.first-aid-product.com/industrial/instant-cold-compresses.htm

Thanks, Sis.
WE ARE BORG. Resistance, while not futile, just leaves you in the dark.

It occured to me that some of you may have no concept of what things are like here in the military community with nearly all the soldiers deployed. I thought I'd give you a glimpse.

Once we found out the brigade was on orders to go to Baghdad, the spouses began discussing what we would do while the soldiers were gone. It was interesting to me that many folks were seriously considering "going home" (that is, back to the USA) for much, if not all of the deployment period.

The community leaders and those with a lot of experience in these things all said the same thing...staying in this community is the better strategy...because here you will find more support than in the states.

I wasn't sure I bought that, but it wasn't a decision I had to make...I have a job here, I live here...so I stayed here.

It has only been in the last two weeks or so that I have come to understand that those who argued for staying here had a good point.

It works like this.

In the 33 days that CPT Patti has been gone, I have heard from her three times on the phone, once via email, and once on the telephone answering machine. As I mentioned below, I've not heard from her since Sunday. That is five contacts in just over a month.

But every day I come to work...and I talk with the ladies in the office. And if Julie hasn't heard from her husband, perhaps Christina has...and tomorrow it might be Doris or Deb or Justine or Carmen who gets a call or a note or a letter. And every time one of us hears from our soldier, there is information in that communique that is shared with all the others.

Just in the office then, if the contact rate is constant from family to family then any among us benefits as our contact rate goes from 5 to 35 over the same period of time. And that is just in the office. That doesn't count the contacts made by friends in the stairwell or the family readiness groups or the checker at the commissary.

Now certainly, when Doris hears from her husband, this is not remotely the same as me hearing from CPT Patti in terms of emotional impact. But in terms of situational information, it is nearly as good.

So - in terms of filling in the situation over there, we become like the Borg from Star Trek...we are part of a collective conciousness that shares individual details to create a mosaic. This allows each of us a greater understanding of what our soldiers are going through than we could ever glean by the few contacts we have with our own.

So, over time our understanding is greater for being here than it ever could be elsewhere. And that is a comfort.

It is also beneficial to our soldiers...because it is through this collective conciousness that we learn of the shortages in comfort items for our soldiers...and this instructs us in assembling meaningful care packages for the troops.

And, as you might imagine, a bond develops from the common experience. I find myself taking much more interest in the lives of those around me than I would under normal circumstances. We all ached together for the one lady in the office who had heard nothing from her husband for a month. And we all rejoiced when she received two letters in two days - and sat around her listening to her read parts of the letter aloud.

These are feelings perhaps that we should feel routinely...but as for me, I don't really. But I do now...

And that is what makes all of this special.


FRIDAY, JUNE 13th. The 33d day of CPT Patti's deployment. No word from her since last Sunday.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND AS YOU READ stories in the press of those who would accuse the administration of "bogus" claims and manipulating intelligence reports for Republican benefit.
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program.

He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

Plenty more are here.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? Why, the USA...natch.

"There's no food anywhere," said Fanny, a Liberian refugee who had trudged for two days to reach the stadium. "People are dying. The Americans must come. We want peace."

By the way...it might interest you that French troops are there today. But they don't plan to stick around. Read the whole story here.
DON'T CHEER TOO SOON. Read the whole thing first.
The attackers who shot down a U.S. military helicopter in Iraq have been killed.

That word comes from U.S. Central Command, which says a military aircraft fired on the ground forces in Iraq who shot down the Army Apache helicopter.

Major Brad Lowell says the attack succeeded in killing the hostile forces.

The helicopter was shot down in western Iraq. Neither of the two crew members was injured. They were rescued almost immediately as coalition troops secured the crash site.

It was the first military aircraft downed by ground fire since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime two months ago.

Meanwhile, Central Command says an F-16 fighter-bomber has crashed southwest of Baghdad. The pilot safely ejected and was rescued by ground forces. The cause of the crash is unknown.
THEY SHOULD FIND THE HEAT to be less of a problem, I presume. But where will that division find translators with those credentials???
Spain is to take a leading role in a multi-national stabilization force in Iraq, in the sector designated to be led by Poland, Spanish Defense Minister Federico Trillo said Thursday.

"Spain is going to co-lead a division" of the multi-national force in the Polish sector south of Baghdad, he told a press conference.

Polish Defense Minister Jerzy szmajdzinski confirmed the Spanish participation, saying that Spain will take deputy command of its division of some 8,000 troops.

The division will comprise three brigades: a Polish one with 2,300 troops, a Ukrainian one with 1,700 troops and a Spanish brigade with 1,100 soldiers, he said on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Read the rest here.
WHAT IS THE SOUND OF ONE WEASEL CRYING?
Brussels-based Nato headquarters may move to another member country following a cost-benefit analysis ordered by the US House of Representatives.

In an amendment to the Nato defence budget, congressmen say that it may be more beneficial financially to move the Alliance headquarters to an alternative base...

...The move comes at a time when Belgium has fallen out of favour with the US on the politico-diplomatic front.

After joining Germany and France in a stance against the Iraqi conflict without UN approval, Belgium’s controversial law of universal competence further stressed relations...

...Universal competence allows for the trial of a person or persons for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity — although jurisdiction had allowed for cases of foreign origin to be tried, the law was amended following US pressure so as to avoid it being used for political means.

Most recently, US army commander General Tommy Franks faced a series of war crimes allegations under the law, including the bombing of a market and non-action in the face of pillaging in Baghdad. The Belgian government stepped in and returned the case to the US to be dealt with domestically.

The US Ambassador to Belgium suggested earlier in the year that Brussels risked the loss of Nato HQ if the so-called genocide law continued to be a problem.

Read more here.
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. Believe me, no one is more amazed than I am that Amber Frey popped up on CPT Patti's website. You just have to read it to believe it.
I am writing this letter to express my feelings and concerns about two important people in my life.

In December, police in Modesto asked for help in finding missing mother-to-be Laci Peterson. My daughter, Amber Frey, courageously came forward to reveal her relationship with Scott Peterson.

This year, my son Jason stepped up when our president called. He is presently in Baghdad, Iraq, proud to serve as a captain in the U.S. Army.

A NEAT LITTLE STORY.
Ahh, capitalism.

“Yes, this is capitalism at its best,” said Ali Khalis, who parked himself and his minivan on a busy downtown street to sell satellite dishes, receiver boxes and related services.

“This is my new income and it is good,” the former air-conditioning repairman said through a translator.

Everyone wants a satellite, he said. “With no or little power, no one uses air conditioning. I had to make a living.”

Indeed. Read it all here.
APPEARS THAT SOMETIMES PROGRESS takes odd forms, and baby steps.
Roughly 300 Iraqi journalists, who have worked for 35 days with no pay, went on strike Wednesday, getting their first taste of new-found democracy in Iraq and the negotiations process with the Department of Defense.

“I’m happy to see this happen, it’s a sign of democracy and though the show must go on, people have their rights,” said Ahmad Al-Rilkaby, who heads up the newly formed Iraqi Media Network.

“This is the first strike of the Iraqi media,” he beamed.

The story is here.
HAVE YOU MAILED YOURS TO CPT Patti yet? It is 113 degrees in Baghdad today. Perhaps one of you with medical connections back home can get a discount like the lady in this story.
There are any number of dangers a soldier in Iraq faces that no one can control.

But Char Harley has found she can do something about one of those dangers: the heat.

Daniel Harley has been in Baghdad since May 31. He was deployed to Kuwait on Mother's Day, May 18, spent a week and a half there and has been in Baghdad ever since.

Char says temperatures topped 100 in Kuwait, and similar heat was expected in Baghdad.

Char said the extreme heat has had both her and her daughter-in-law, Lidia, worried about Daniel's health.

"What's going to help 114 degrees?" Char said.

Lidia, who lives in Giessen, Germany, where her husband is normally stationed, spoke to Daniel on May 24 and asked her husband what she could do for him, Char said.

Daniel -- who is part of a peacekeeping force searching vehicles and guarding posts -- asked that she send him ice packs since the heat is so extreme. She sent him fewer than 10 packs, since the rest had sold out.

So Lidia asked her mother-in-law for help.

Char, who works for Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center -- Plymouth, wondered if she could get instant, one-use cold packs from the hospital at a cheaper rate than the normal $3 to $4 per pack.

IF THIS IS HOW CONFUSED THEY ARE ABOUT SADDAM...imagine their confusion over the USA. And now we are hoping they can change their minds about us as we appear to occupy their country. Sheesh, this stuff is hard.
At the al-Kumeit secondary school in Baghdad, an 11th-grade student, Yaaser Akram, 15, said he was very confused. For 10 years he was taught that Saddam was a brilliant leader who should be idolized by all honest people.

Akram is now surprised to hear so many people saying the exact opposite.

"The name of Saddam had a value among us, but now, I do not love Saddam. I feel I have been deceived. I am shocked to hear about his crimes against our people," Akram said.

Nazaht Salman was al-Kumeit's teacher of patriotism -- a subject that encompassed lessons on how to love Saddam and the Baath Party, how to resist "hostile propaganda" and to report any "enemy activities."

Salman said when classes resumed this month, many students asked her why she had not told them the truth about Saddam's regime before the war.

"Frankly, I was embarrassed but I told them I was forced to conceal the truth in order to protect both them and myself," Salman said. Patriotism class has now been dropped and she now teaches history.

It's all here.
A FAIRLY DETAILED ACCOUNT claiming that Chemical Ali (Ali Hassan al-Majid) was alive and well many days after the Pentagon declared him dead.
Officials at the Nursing Home Hospital said the emergency room, busy throughout the war, looked even more crowded around midnight on April 9, the day Baghdad fell.

"I was awakened at night and told that there was someone in the emergency room. I walked there and looked up and there was Ali Hassan al-Majid sitting on a stretcher next to two bodyguards," the hospital's former director, Abdel Aziz al-Bayaa, told Reuters.

"They (the bodyguards) both had shrapnel wounds. One was slightly wounded and the other had a serious injury."

Majid, who was accompanied by Iraq's then defence minister, Sultan Hashim Ahmed, discussed the war with Bayaa, who said as little as possible to avoid annoying him in any way.

"He said there was no problem in Baghdad and that he and his men were just visiting different areas of Baghdad. He joked with his bodyguards," said Bayaa.

"I asked him how the president was doing and he said 'the president is great'. But he looked like he was very upset and wanted to cry."

Interesting stuff...read it here.
THE FIRST POST WAR CONTRACTS for Iraqi oil to be let today or tomorrow. Will this help stifle those who profess to believe we are in there to steal their oil...or will this just further encourage them? If you don't mind, I'll just sit this bet out.
The spokesman insisted there would be no discrimination against firms from countries which had declined to take part in the US-led war.

"It is a completely open bidding procedure," he said.

The story is here.
LOOKS A LOT LIKE A SHOOTING WAR TO ME.
A U.S. helicopter gunship was shot down in western Iraq on Thursday, just hours after U.S. fighter jets bombed "a terrorist training camp" in central Iraq.

The two incidents came as U.S. ground forces were winding up a massive sweep north of Baghdad aimed at finding those organizing attacks on occupation forces. Thursday's events marked a sharp escalation of U.S. military operations in central and western Iraq, where guerrillas have intensified their attacks on U.S. forces in recent weeks.

A statement by the U.S. Central Command said hostile forces shot down an AH-64 Apache helicopter belonging to the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. A pair of Apaches fired upon "irregular forces" at the crash site, while U.S. ground troops secured the site and rescued the uninjured two-man crew.

It was the first aircraft to be shot down by ground fire since the end of war to oust Saddam Hussein two months ago. Central Command did not say where it went down.

Hours earlier, U.S. planes attacked a site they described as a terror camp, 150 kilometers (95 miles) north of Baghdad at about 1:45 a.m., U.S. Central Command said. A firefight then broke out, and one coalition soldier was slightly injured.

Read the rest here.
A WELL WRITTEN STORY about how individual soldiers are doing their best to return things to normal.
After arguing with her for 15 minutes, he threw up his hands. "Let's make a deal," he groaned. "If you stay open tonight, and you convince some of the other shops here to stay open too, I'll come by on patrol," he said.

He returned at 8 p.m., as the setting sun cast an apricot glow over Palestine Street and merchants across the street were bolting their doors. Obeidi was staying open, as were a barber, a fruit vendor and a used-car salesman on her block.

As Moore drove up in his M-113, accompanied by three other soldiers from the 3rd Infantry and three from the 1st Armored Division, which is assuming responsibility for the neighborhood, Obeidi jumped up and clapped her hands. "Ooh," she said. "You brought the whole Army!"

Read it all here.
THURSDAY, JUNE 12th. The 32d day of CPT Patti's deployment. Sorry I am late in writing today...internet connections were unavailable earlier.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

AND HERE IS A RATHER FRANK EXPRESSION by some National Guard soldiers who are told by Army National Guard recruiters that the Guard serves "one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer".
National Guard Sign
AND THE IRONY HERE IS that some female servicemembers upon learning of possible deployment or extended field duty in the near future, will get pregnant precisely so they DON'T have to go.
A Marine gave birth aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer in the Persian Gulf last month, marking what Pentagon officials believe is the first time an active-duty woman delivered a baby on a combat ship in a war zone.

As a rule, the Pentagon does not deploy pregnant service members to war zones. Navy regulations, which also cover the Marine Corps, require a pregnant servicewoman to notify her commanding officer no later than two weeks after diagnosis.

A Pentagon official said the Marine in this case told superiors that she did not know she was pregnant.

"She never told anybody she was pregnant," the official said. "I think she claimed she didn't know she was pregnant. The good thing was the Boxer has a complete hospital on board, so that was not a problem."

Read the rest here.
OFF TOPIC BUT TIMELY and good reading. Extracts from Jonah Goldberg's commencement address at Hillsdale Academy.
Instead I'd like to give you some advice I think might be useful for anybody going to college.

First, don't ever date anybody in your dorm for at least the first semester. It won't work out and it will make your life really complicated.

Second, don't buy a mini-fridge until you're sure your roommate hasn't got one.

More important: Understand the difference between clich├ęs and wisdom. Kids today, for good or ill, are pretty well-trained when it comes to finding the deficiencies of ideology. But clich├ęs are not only accepted without question on campuses today, they are far too often deemed to be a substitute for actual thinking.

We've all heard something along the lines of "better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished." This sort of thing is spouted on campuses across this country as if it is an argument, as if it's a self-evident argument. It's not. Maybe it's a sentiment. Or an expression of principle or even a priority. But more often it's a copout for kids — and professors — who wish to sound intelligent rather than be intelligent.

Why is it better that ten guilty men go free? Ten career criminals will do far more damage to society out of prison than the price society will suffer with one innocent man in jail. By the way, we call them "career criminals" for the same reason we refer to "career accountants" — they make a living out of being criminals. A strict utilitarian might say, better to punish the one innocent man for the sake of the larger society. On the other hand, a civil libertarian may ask "Why ten men? Why not 100? Or 1,000? Why not let them all go?" After all, we can say with pretty high confidence that somebody in jail today is innocent. We just don't who he is. So why not let them all go in order to make sure the innocent aren't punished? In other words, if you want to say that you'd prefer to err on the side of protecting the rights of the innocent, fine. But that's easy to say, and more important, it's not an argument.

Read the whole thing here.

AND JUST FOR FUN Dave Letterman's Top Ten Reasons I'm Proud to be an American, presented by soldiers of the 622d Movement Control Team, Fort Eustis, VA.
7. "I don't see Yao Ming playing basketball in Belgium"
THE TIMES THEY ARE A'CHANGING. CPT Patii's YBIL (Younger Brother in Law, aka Helo Boy) sends this story.
In A Massive Shift, U.S. Plans To Reduce Troops In Germany (Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2003, Pg. 1)

The Pentagon plans to significantly shrink the U.S. force of 70,000 troops in Germany, a military stronghold for half a century, and put far more American forces in Africa and the Caucasus region. The move-part of the most radical redeployment of American forces since the end of the Cold War-is driven by the increasing importance that the United States is placing on protecting key oil reserves in Africa and the Caucasus region near the Caspian Sea, as well as addressing concerns about combating terrorism.

We touched on this subject earlier here with this story

A group of Army wives took some serious jabs Monday at the Bush administration’s notions for restructuring U.S. military bases in Europe.
These weren’t just any wives. Those speaking out included Holly Petraeus, wife of the 101st Airborne Division’s commander Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, and the wives of several field-grade officers.

They testified at Fort Campbell, Ky., at a field hearing of the Senate Committee on Children and Families to talk about problems military families face during deployments.

A proposed shift of bases from locations in Germany, where families accompany service members, to new sites in Eastern Europe where families wouldn’t come along, popped up in the hearing when the women spoke about the family stress sparked by the ever-increasing pace of deployments.

Petraeus said the top concern in the minds of many at Fort Campbell is that a downsized military is being called on for too many deployments.

Moving to unaccompanied unit rotations in Germany instead of accompanied tours “will be perceived as just one more deployment added to the load that they already bear,” she said.

Meanwhile, Secretary Rumsfeld has made an unusual move, potentially recalling a retired officer to active duty to take on the job as US Army Chief of Staff. Rumor around the Army is that Rumsfeld is so hard to work for that nobody wants the job. The other idea is that Rumsfeld's transformation ideas are so, well, out there that none of the 4 stars want to be associated with what they perceive to be the gutting of the greatest Army on Earth. And note the interesting tid bit about body language costing a 3 Star General a shot at it.

Leaking the news of Rumsfeld's choice for the position, which becomes vacant with Wednesday's retirement of Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, was viewed as a "trial balloon." The secretary wants to see who shoots and who salutes a rather controversial move.

If Schoomaker is formally nominated, he would be the first general summoned back on active duty to serve in a top job since President John F. Kennedy called back Gen. Maxwell Taylor from retirement in 1962 to become chairman of the joint chiefs.

Rumsfeld has been feuding for a long time with Army leadership, and he passed over nine active-duty four-star generals.

The rest of that story is here.

And one more take on the story...

The extraordinary break with convention is the latest episode in a series of confrontations between Mr Rumsfeld and the US army leadership.

Gen Tommy Franks, commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Gen John Keane, the army vice-chief, both opted to retire rather than take the top job in their service.

Recently Mr Rumsfeld sacked Thomas White, the army secretary, and publicly berated Gen Eric Shinseki, the retiring chief of staff, for suggesting on the eve of war that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed in post-conflict Iraq.

Read it all here.
OK - I'll try to post some more later today...but for now I've got other stuff to do.
HMMMMM. If true, then the enterprising Iraqi ought to compare the going rate Saddam is paying for Americans with what the Americans would be willing to pay for Saddam. That math ought to be a no brainer.

If the sightings are bogus then we see the remnants of the fear of the tyrant...or we see someone with an agenda invoking that fear. Either way it is ugly.
Saddam Hussein has been seen north of Baghdad and is paying a bounty for every American soldier killed, the leader of an Iraqi exile group said yesterday.

The whole story is here.
HOT ENOUGH FOR YA?
Baghdad, Iraq-AP -- One soldier in Iraq says it's like "someone's holding a hairdryer to your face."

The legendary Mesopotamian sun hammers down and drives afternoon temperatures to 110 degrees. But Iraqis say June is mild -- it could be 130 degrees in July and August.

Sheesh...read about it here. And send more cold packs.
I HAVE VERY MIXED FEELINGS about this story. The Associated Press has gone to great lengths here to quantify the number of civilian dead as a result of the war. Fine, that is a legitimate thing to want to know.

My heartburn begins, however, when I consider that reporters were in Iraq in the years leading up to this war (remember the CNN Scandal...accused of not reporting the truth in order to maintain "access" to Iraq?) I wonder where was the same zeal and effort to chonicle the estimated 300,000 Iraqi's who simply disappeared at Saddam's hand and now are being uncovered in mass graves.

And Human Rights Watch...where were you? And Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, do you have an adjunct organization called Campaign for Innocent Victims Under Ruthlessly Brutal Dictators?

No? I didn't think so.
The AP's finding: At least 3,240 civilians died throughout the country, including 1,896 in Baghdad. The count is still fragmentary, and the complete number — if it is ever tallied — is sure to be significantly higher.

Several surveys have looked at civilian casualties within Baghdad, but the AP's is the first attempt to gauge the scale of such deaths from one end of the country to the other, from Mosul in the north to Basra in the south...

...In the 1991 Gulf War an estimated 2,278 civilians were killed, Iraqi civil defense authorities said. No official U.S. count is known to have been made. That war consisted of seven weeks of bombing and 100 hours of ground war, and did not take U.S. forces into any Iraqi cities.

This time it was very different. In a war in which Saddam Hussein's soldiers melted away into crowded cities, changed into plain clothes or wore no uniform to begin with, separating civilian and military casualties was often impossible.

Adding to the civilian toll was the regime's tactic of parking its troops and weapons in residential neighborhoods, creating targets for U.S. bombs that increased the casualties among noncombatants...

..."Did the Americans bomb civilians? Yes. But one should be realistic," said Dr. Hameed Hussein al-Aaraji, new director of Baghdad's al-Kindi Hospital. "Saddam ran a dirty war. He put weapons inside schools, inside mosques. What could they do?"

...Some of the best record-keeping was in Baghdad, where AP journalists visited all 24 hospitals that took in war casualties. Their logs provided a count of 1,896 civilians killed. There were certainly more civilians dead. A few hospitals lost count as fighting intensified...

...It will take months or more before anything like a final count emerges. One survey is being done by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, another by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, which hopes to win U.S. compensation for victims or their relatives.
A SAD STORY ABOUT THE PRESSURES on a young soldier standing sentry in the night.
"I don't think anyone understands how it gets when you have to stare in your zone for so long," Dresel, 24, of Stamford, Conn., said later. "There came a point where I thought, 'What's that over on the left?' 'What's that over on the right?'"

They were the kind of questions that many GIs would face in a war of blurry battle lines, where the priority of preserving American lives bumped up against civilians caught in the crossfire.

After more than an hour, a figure moved toward Dresel on the sidewalk. He fired a warning shot, and through his scope he made out what looked like an old man.

"I fired off another warning shot. I yelled 'halt,' 'stop,' 'kif,' everything I could think of. Even the tank gave a warning shot," he said. "Finally, I was like, well, I've got to take this guy out."

Dresel said he fired 15 shots. When daylight broke, he was ordered to examine the body.

"All I'm thinking is, I hope this guy has a grenade, or some kind of kit wrapped to him, so I'm not just an old-man killer," he said.

When he got there, he found none of that.

"There wasn't nothing on him," Dresel said, lowering his voice. "I just killed an old guy, who was probably drunk or something."

Fellow soldiers assured Dresel there was nothing else he could have done. He isn't convinced.

"Even now I feel bad," he said. "I did do my job. But you always wonder: If I could go back ..."

Read it all here.
OH GIVE ME A BLEEDIN' BREAK. What does it say about a country that governmental property has to be marked with 'DO NOT SELL"?
She said no one should be surprised that invasion forces aren't helping people.

"All the educated people of Iraq know that the war wasn't for helping the people, but for taking the oil," Hassan said.

"Before we said, 'O Saddam'; now we must say 'O Bush' and 'O Tony Blair.' They have destroyed everything.

"You may have read or seen how people are thanking the U.S. forces, but that is not all of the people, believe me," Hassan said.

Years of sanctions and three wars have left most Iraqis with little or no access to health care. Aid workers say hospitals lack drugs, medical equipment and other supplies needed to care for patients. Most of the shortages are a result of the former U.N. sanctions, but since the end of the war, many hospitals also have been looted.

Drugs and medical equipment, stamped "Ministry of Health -- Do not sell" can be found in markets from Baghdad to Basra.

Read it all here.
THE DEADLY GAMES OF CHECKPOINT CHALLENGE continue. Read it all here.
Assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades at a checkpoint in Baghdad's southwestern suburbs, killing one U.S. paratrooper and wounding another, a military statement said Wednesday.

It said the soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade were manning a weapons collection on Tuesday afternoon when a van pulled up about 250 yards from the checkpoint and a number of men exited. They fired two RPG rounds at the squad and then fled down the alleyway, the statement released by the U.S. Central Command said.
THOSE ARE THE MISSILES THAT HELP keep you cool in summer, right?
Forty Seersucker anti-ship missiles were discovered and confiscated by 1st Armored Division (AD) forces in a Baghdad suburb. Coalition personnel will destroy the missiles.

An extract of the Central Command daily update...the rest can be found here.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11th. The 31st day of CPT Patti's deployment. Last contact with her was on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

THIS AWFUL STORY is a bit off our topic, except it plays to the "Axis of Evil" theme. People are pressed to this, all because an insane megalomaniacal dictator must have his big Army and his nukes.
Cannibalism is increasing in North Korea following another poor harvest and a big cut in international food aid, according to refugees who have fled the stricken country.

Aid agencies are alarmed by refugees' reports that children have been killed and corpses cut up by people desperate for food. Requests by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to be allowed access to "farmers' markets", where human meat is said to be traded, have been turned down by Pyongyang, citing "security reasons".

Anyone caught selling human meat faces execution, but in a report compiled by the North Korean Refugees Assistance Fund (NKRAF), one refugee said: "Pieces of 'special' meat are displayed on straw mats for sale. People know where they came from, but they don't talk about it."

The whole disgusting article is here.
JUST IN CASE YOU WONDER, NO, the US Army does NOT train for this.
The soldier from the U.S. Army's First Armored Division climbs on a chair clutching a machine gun and shouts at the dozens of people waiting by the barbed wire barring access to the headquarters of the Iraqi Central Bank.

``Get out of here, the bank is closed,'' he yells.

The people in the crowd were seeking to exchange their 10,000 dinar ($7.70) notes for bills in smaller denominations. Since the war ended April 10, traders and shopowners are charging a 25 percent fee on 10,000 dinar bills, the largest notes in circulation, after word spread that some may be counterfeit.

It was another of the many challenges U.S. occupation authorities and Iraqi central-bank officials face in restoring and managing Iraq's monetary system. With most banks closed, the banking system is crippled. There is no official exchange rate. The value of the dinar sometimes fluctuates as much as 50 percent in a week on unofficial exchange markets.

The story is here.

EXCUSE ME SENATOR, I appreciate your trying to make a point for the folks in Idaho...but not on the backs of servicemen who have just answered their nation's call. Sheesh...I wouldn't expect even Daschle to stoop this low...and you are a republican?
Baghdad's anti-aircraft batteries have proven less of a hazard to Air Force pilots than a fit of pique nurtured by one politician from Idaho.

U.S. Sen. Larry E. Craig has abused the Senate's rules to block the promotions and appointments of 850 Air Force officers for more than a month now. The senior Republican, supposedly a loyal supporter of the military, is peeved because the Idaho Air National Guard only received four C-130 cargo planes from the Air Force instead of the eight it was supposedly promised seven years ago.

The problem is much more than just a few officers not drawing their higher rates of pay. Senate approval is needed for specific appointments to the service's top spots. Among those officers who have not been able to take up their new posts due to Craig's blockade are Maj. Gen. John Rosa, who was supposed to be cleaning up a scandal-ridden Air Force Academy by now, and Gen. Robert H. Foglesong, who has been warming a chair in the Pentagon when he was supposed to have taken over as head of all air operations in Europe.

It is interesting to note that the only reason we, the people, are aware of this scandal is that some anonymous Air Force officers have leaked the facts to the press, specifically The New York Times. The story was quickly confirmed by Craig's own spokesman, who had the gall to go right on and say that the situation could be easily resolved if the Air Force would just reassign the four cargo planes.

But pleasing selfish senators is no way for the Pentagon to make strategic decisions about the deployment of its limited resources. Craig's obvious desire to make Boise's Gowen Field more important, and thus more likely to survive the next round of base closings, is pork barrel politics at its worst.

Amen to that...and the rest is here.
HERE IS A STORY OUT OF CONNECTICUT that confirms the efforts to reestablish schools in Iraq.
In the regular course of his life, Grasso is a fifth-year teacher of special education for eighth grade students at the Region 17 school, and an assistant football coach for Haddam-Killingworth High School's team...

But, today, and every day since January, he has been Army Sgt. Tom Grasso, serving with an Army Reserve civil affairs unit in Iraq...

...(H)e maintains regular contact with his family, and with his students through letters that are read aloud by Furey-Wagner at school assemblies.

The principal task of Grasso's unit is the reopening of Baghdad schools that have been damaged, in some cases, by bombing, but all of them devastated by looters. The rapacious looting that Baghdad has experienced has stripped its schools of "desks, fixtures, everything on the walls," Furey-Wagner says. "Imagine the worst building you can. This doesn't compare."

The looting extended even to the most basic of school supplies, creating a great need that Denna Stachelek, Grasso's wife, mentioned one day to his Haddam-Killingworth colleagues.

This prompted the school's staff and students to organize a campaign to fill that need - much as they had done for schools in Afghanistan, Furey-Wagner recalled. The schools are in dire need of pencils, paper, scissors, tape, markers, crayons, rulers, glue, composition books - all the simple tools that enable student learning.

The rest is here.
BUSH AND BLAIR FIND SUPPORT in the strangest place...Iran.
An Iranian government official with ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Tehran sides with the Americans on one big issue — Saddam Hussein's weapons.

"Yes, we agree with the Americans. Our intelligence indicated that Iraq did possess weapons of mass destruction and was hiding them from the U.N.," the official said.

Read it here.

THERE IS PLENTY IN THE WAY OF BAD NEWS out there today...but that seems to be what draws the reporting. I'm trying to balance that with some of the better stuff that is harder to find.

Still, I found this story about circulating rumors to be interesting. Sort of goes along with our theme of these folks being fed lie after lie after lie. Rumors will happen in the best of times...and in these times it seems rumors are a form of lying to one's self...especially if you can blame someone else in the process.
Doctors treating a dangerous spike in cholera and other intestinal diseases say they are told by patients that they are victims of an American virus, unleashed so people will be grateful when the Americans heal them...

..."The Israelis told the Americans to get rid of our government and then take our oil," said a man parked in an impromptu gas line. "I heard that on the radio."

Said another motorist in a battered Toyota Corolla, "It's the fault of Kuwait. They sent the American soldiers in here to steal and to loot, and then the Americans are repaying them with our gasoline."

Wait a minute...the American soldiers steal and loot??? Sheesh.

"TRAVELERS ON A CIRCUIT OF PAIN". An axis of evil, indeed.
Their goal: to give their relatives religious burials in graves that will mark unjustly shortened lives.

``We are looking everywhere. It is as if we are drowning and searching for a straw to hold on to,'' said Hala Taleb, clad in a black chador and looking for her brother, for whom her ``heart is still burning.''

``Saddam has given us a nightmare. He is living free somewhere, but we're still living the nightmare,'' she said Monday, her eyes watering.

The five first met Saturday at the suspected mass grave south of Baghdad. On Monday, they returned together in the minibus from Baghdad, still grieving, still determined.

Human rights groups say that in Iraq, a country of 24 million people, nearly 300,000 are missing. Some disappeared in the 1980s, when Saddam is believed to have ordered the detention of thousands of communists, rival members of his Baath Party and Shiite Muslim activists. Many were never heard from again.

Read the whole thing here.
A FORMER POW TELLS his tale. Much of it is frightening...but I enjoyed this excerpt:
Were there any lighter moments?

In the third prison, a guard came to the door and blindfolded and cuffed me and took me down the hallway. They sat me down and ripped off the blindfold, and there was a guy standing there with rubber gloves and a tray of utensils.

The guy was like “Please. I am dentist and I want to look at your teeth.” I’m like, what the hell? With bombs and firefights, you want to worry about my teeth? After he examines me, he goes, “Please please, I am a dentist and you must brush your teeth.”

I’m thinking, dude, I haven’t showered in 20 days and you want me to brush my teeth?

Read it all here.
MORE ON THE DIFFERENCE between Fallujah and Baghdad.
"The people here, they don't like us — even the kids. They waved at us in Baghdad, but here they're scared when we roll up."

Read it all here.
THIS STORY RAN YESTERDAY in the dead-tree version of the Stars & Stripes newspaper. The highlighted soldier is based right here where we live and work. (Note of disclaimer, the article says Clemens is the commander of Company B, 1-36 Infantry. No he isn't...as his rank in the first paragraph indicates, he is the company first sergeant. Seems a newspaper written exclusively for military communities might have editors who would catch these little things.)
1st Sgt. Eric Clemens said he watched in disbelief as a stray cat dragged a human hand from a pile of garbage dumped in the street outside of a Baghdad hospital.

With no incinerator or proper place to dispose of medical and biological waste — and even bodies — the staff at the hospital and university in downtown Baghdad have resorted to dumping it in the Tigris River or in any nook or cranny just outside the hospital compound walls, said Clemens, commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment of the Army’s 1st Armored Division.

Clemens’ reaction when he sees the dumping of waste might be drastic, but necessary, he said.

“I pull out my pistol and tell them to take it back,” the Friedburg, Germany–based soldier said while showing two of the dump sites, which contained blood-saturated bandages, IV bags, syringes and needles, mounds of other garbage and hundreds of swarming flies.

The rest is here.
SAW AN INTERESTING story on CNN this morning about the unrest in Fallujah. One detail of that story caught my attention. An Iraqi man was concerned about the safety of his family in Fallujah...so he packed them up and sent them to Baghdad. So, in at least one local's opinion Baghdad is one of the safer places to be.

Makes me feel better.
HERE IS A SUMMARY from Central Command (CENTCOM) rolling up the activities of the division over the last day.
In raids and patrolling activity during the last 24 hours, the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad seized 130 AK-47 rifles, 13 pistols, 6 grenades, a sword, 3 rocket-propelled grenade launchers with 7 rounds of ammunition and numerous mortar, rifle and machine gun rounds. They also detained 87 people for crimes including murder, looting, weapons and curfew violations, car theft, larceny and drug dealing.

Read about what the other divisions are doing here.
TUESDAY JUNE 10th, the 30th day of CPT Patti's deployment. Have not heard from her since that first very short email received this past Sunday morning.

Monday, June 09, 2003

WANT TO SEE SOMETHING that will put a small lump in your throat? A little while ago I shared with my inner circle of friends and family a letter written by CPT Patti's Brigade Commander. This letter, which he sent back here to the spouses and familes left behind by the deployed soldiers, asked for donations of school supplies. The Colonel's sector of Baghdad has 74 schools in it, all of whom are flat broke and have no school supplies.

I had also shared the need for personal items for CPT Patti and her troops.

Today I received an email, forwarded to me by a dear friend. It is written by a woman in rural Iowa...a woman I have never met, CPT Patti has never met, and certainly a classroom full of Iraqi children have never met. It is part of a back and forth exchange between my friends mother and this other lady. Here is an extract.
"When Ann called me I said I knew you would do it [...an interview on local radio about the needed supplies]. Let me know when and time so I can listen.

I sent off 3 boxes on Thursday. First I had it all in one big box and then it was so darn big and heavy I thought it would stay in a terminal too long, So I made it into 3 packages and marked boxes 1-2-3. I did put some toys in it, I never heard back from you if that would be acceptible, but I did send some things to play with for kids from the Dollar General Store. My gosh, $34 to send all 3... I had $150 in stuff in my packages.

But this is something I wanted to do. I just lost my Uncle who I was conservator over, and he was a veteran. I had about $100 left from his account and I KNEW this is exactly where he would want me to spend it. He looked forward to my mom's packages when he was in the Korean War.

So I feel really good about it. I hope you can campaign the whole thing up on the radio and get people to send even shoebox full of items."

Thank you Alden, Iowa.

Anybody gotta kleenex?
ANOTHER TRUCKLOAD OF GOLD seized by US Forces in Iraq. We asked earlier where do they get this stuff...and this story has one possible answer.
"What was found in those trucks has to be the gold Saddam asked Iraqis to donate to fight the Iran war," al-Khayoun said. "That gold helped keep him in power."

During the bleakest years of the conflict between Iran and Iraq, Saddam and his ministers appeared on Iraqi television, exhorting citizens to contribute their jewelry to the war effort. Some of that jewelry ended up being hammered into a solid gold carriage for Saddam, which broke under its own weight during a 1996 parade.
STUMBLED UPON ANOTHER BLOG being kept by a Warrant Officer (Intelligence type) in Kuwait. It is good, firsthand reading. In his June 6th entry he quotes from an email sent by an Iraqi doctor to a US Army Colonel. Here is part of it.
Colonel, I wan to express how I feel in my heat and if you can, I ask that you pass my words to your leaders and commanders and the marines and soldiers who suffered and are suffering for my country. I want all of you to know that the great majority of Iraqis applaud your coming, your success in battle and your efforts to be kind, decent people now.

We suffered for many years and no one would help us, not even our Arab brothers. Only America had the strength, not only in military power, but also in vision, in character, in moral authority, in love for its fellowman to come to our aid. I know it is hard for the soldiers now, they have no air-conditioning in their vehicles, they must live on our streets to protect us, and they are away from their families. I want them to know that we know the sacrifices they make for us. I pray to Allah that they will sacrifice no more: too many already have sacrificed so much.

I also want to apologize for some of our young people who are not mature enough o understand what you have done and what you have given us. We have not known freedom for a long time, so it will take time to truly appreciate what a glorious gift you have given us.

Many of us blame the sanctions for all our problems. It was not the sanctions that created what we see today, it was the regime that existed everywhere, to include this very building that I work in, the Ministry of Health. It was the regime that cheated the people out of what was rightfully theirs by God's laws.

There is more to this letter, and more first hand reports from the desert here.
MORE ON THE LYING. This author believes the truth is secondary to the self esteem of the Iraqis. What a decidedly liberal position. Unfortunately this author is spreading around the same load of BS that Baghdad Bob did on behalf of Saddam...and the more these clearly delusional people read it, the harder it gets for the good guys.
The Americans dropped a "tactical nuclear bomb" on Iraqi forces. Saddam Hussein made a final radio broadcast hours after Baghdad fell, pausing three times to stop himself from breaking down on the air. And casualties among U.S.-led coalition forces? Twenty thousand dead.

Iraq's first homegrown book about the war that changed it forever is a 124-page hodgepodge of anti-American tirades and wartime rumors.

"Under the Ashes of the Stormy War," by Islamic author Alaa el-din al-Mudaris, also feeds the web of myths on the whereabouts and actions of Saddam during the crucial days before and after Baghdad's fall at U.S. hands on April 9.

"It's like a literary epic," al-Mudaris said in an interview in his office on the storied al-Motanabi street in Baghdad's old quarter.

"Some things in the book may not be true and the chronological order of events may not be 100 percent correct," he said, "but the book's aim is to restore confidence to Iraqis - to tell them, `You've fought courageously.'"

Read all the silliness here.
WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE in the Kansas City Star about the balance between occupation and reconstruction.
Increasingly, Iraq's American occupiers are fighting a more subtle war: one against rising expectations. And the people of this nation, savaged by decades of dictatorship, war and international sanctions, are growing impatient.

"I'm disappointed by the United States," said Adnan Messin, an unemployed truckdriver and occasional electrician. "The political situation is better. But everything else is worse."

"We just wanted Saddam kicked out," said Messin. "But now it's an occupation."

That is exactly what Iraq's U.S.-led administrators do not want to hear.
IT IS IRONIC THAT FOR THE TIME BEING we will continue to pay folks to do nothing. However, I am glad to see they took my suggestion on the garbage situation. Read about it here.
It was payday on Saturday at Iraq's state-owned irrigation company. But there was not a hint of work in sight.

"Nobody has asked us to do anything in weeks," said Mahmoud Hameed, a geologist who had come only to pick up his pay. "We are all just waiting to see when the real work begins."

Two months after U.S. forces seized control of Iraq, U.S. officials now find themselves approving salaries for hundreds of thousands of no-show and no-work jobs.
I'VE PROBABLY DEVOTED too much space to this story...I can't get over that folks in the media, the ones we are supposed to trust to know what is happening in this world, got this story so very, very wrong, over and over.
The world was appalled. One archaeologist described the looting of Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities as "a rape of civilization." Iraqi scholars standing in the sacked galleries of the exhibit halls in April wept on camera as they stood on shards of cuneiform tablets dating back thousands of years.

Apparently, it was not that bad...

...Actually, about 33 priceless vases, statues and jewels were missing.

"I said there were 170,000 pieces in the entire museum collection," said Donny George as he stood with beads of sweat glistening on his forehead in his barren office at the museum. "Not 170,000 pieces stolen."

On Saturday, a team of U.S. investigators from the Customs Service and State Department released a summary of a preliminary report that concluded that 3,000 pieces were missing. And more importantly, of the 8,000 or so exhibit-quality, world-class pieces of jewelry, statues and cuneiform clay tablets, only 47 were unaccounted for.

Today, Iraqi officials at the museum confirmed the U.S. numbers, with a slight adjustment.

"There are only 33 pieces from the main collections that are unaccounted for," George said. "Not 47. Some more pieces have been returned." Museum staff members had taken some of the more valuable items home and are now returning them.

George conceded that during the 48 hours when his museum was being looted, he was extremely upset with the Americans.

"I was very angry at the time, so much anger," George said. "But we should stop blaming each other. We're working together now."

Amen, brother...that would be a good plan. Read the rest here.
BASTARDS.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a U.S. soldier at a checkpoint in western Iraq, a military statement said Monday. U.S. troops returned fire, killing one person and capturing a second.

An undetermined number of attackers pulled up late Sunday to the roadblock near the Syrian border and requested medical help for a person in the car. They then pulled pistols and shot the soldier, said a statement released by the U.S. Central Command.

SO NOW WE'VE MOVED from "shock and awe" to "carrot and stick", according to this article.
In the modest police station, U.S. soldiers took measurements for Iraqi officers' new uniforms. At the hospital, a military doctor asked staffers what they needed. A commander told the mayor that, when the shooting stops, his troops will leave and normal life will return.

But if another U.S. soldier gets killed, Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp, commander of the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment warned, "I'm going to sweep through, and it's not going to be fun."

In the conservative heartland of Iraq, where the U.S. Army has more than tripled the number of troops in three communities along a key supply route, that tension shows the contradictions U.S. soldiers face.

They must maintain a balance between trying to help Iraqis rebuild their shattered country, but fight the insurgents whose resentment boils over into violence.
FROM "BAGHDAD BOB" to local religious leaders. Ever wonder if these folks get tired of being lied to?
Lt. Col. James Danna, whose unit from the 1st Armored Division patrols western Baghdad, calls it "the information war."

Danna and other military officers struggle to restore electrical supplies, clean water and increase security as proof of American good will. At the same time, he said, hard-line clerics work to undermine them.

"I've got to fight the Shiite cleric who is saying, 'Don't trust the Americans, they are putting in the generator to poison your children,' " said Danna, a 39-year-old native of New Brunswick, N.J.

Read it all here.
THIS IS A GOOD STORY about how soldiers get by with a can-do attitude.
When the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division found its radio range limited, troops from the 16th Engineer Battalion set to work building a taller tower.

But first they had to find one to build.

Troops from Company C’s assault and obstacle platoon, normally trained to breach enemy obstacles, began to scrounge around their camp, a rundown resort along the Tigris River in Baghdad’s North End. In a parking lot among debris, they found their prize — a 90-foot radio tower.

The soldier’s dismantled the tower and trucked it to 1st Brigade headquarters at the Martyr’s Monument, said 1st Lt. Andrew Bichoff, 24, of Port Jervis, N.Y. Despite their training for combat missions, the platoon tackled the construction mission with relative ease, he said.

“The Army is the only organization where you can take any platoon, give them a mission, and they execute to standard, regardless of the level of training in that area,” Bischoff said.

By sunset Tuesday, the engineers had reassembled the behemoth tower with the help from mechanics who knew how to weld. Brigade communication specialists wired four FM antennas to the top, said Sgt. Deandre Favors, 24, of Detroit.

Read the rest here.
MONDAY JUNE 9th, the 29th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

I'M NOT TRYING TO BE negative here, but I think this bill is largely ceremonial. The Army already authorizes free phone calls, called "morale calls" from the Defense Switching Network (DSN) phones down range. The problem isn't that troops don't call because they can't afford to...but rather that there are too few phones...way too few phones. Still, its a nice gesture. Read about it here.
Servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan may get free monthly phone calls home if House members decide to support their Senate colleagues, who have twice given the idea a thumbs-up.

The free phone call proposal has already obtained full support in the Senate this spring in both a free-standing bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and again in the 2004 defense budget authorization.

McCain’s “Troops Phone Home Free Act of 2003,” which passed the full Senate on April 1, provides a monthly allotment of free telephone calling minutes to any servicemembers “stationed outside the United States who are directly supporting military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Under the act, deployed members would be issued prepaid phone cards “or an equivalent telecommunications benefit which includes access to telephone service,” with a value not to exceed $40 a month per person.
SORRY FOR THE LIGHT POSTING today...I'm not finding much in the way of meaningful news out there.
NO CHRONICLE OF THE soldiers efforts in the rebuilding of Iraq can ignore stories like these, even though these are the ones that you probably hear on the headlines at home. So I will post them.
A U.S. soldier was killed and four companions wounded yesterday in an attack near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, north of the capital, a military statement said.

It was at least the seventh U.S. soldier killed in attacks in Iraq during the past two weeks as unrest plagues the country.

As tension increased about the role of religious leaders in postwar Iraq, U.S. forces yesterday raided a Baghdad office of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an armed Muslim Shi'ite group with ties to Iran.

The entire story is here.
ONE WOULD THINK a key element of this story would be how the artifacts wound up inside this secret vault in the Central Bank...but it isn't addressed. The whole story is here.
The world-famous treasures of Nimrud, unaccounted for since Baghdad fell two months ago, have been found in good condition in the country's Central Bank -- in a secret vault-inside-a-vault submerged in sewage water, U.S. occupation authorities said Saturday.

They also said that fewer than 50 items from the collection of the Iraqi National Museum's main exhibition are still missing after the looting and destruction that followed the U.S. capture of Baghdad.
I THINK THE PRESS is trying to create a story where there isn't one. This article refers to President Bush flying over Baghdad, but not stopping by to visit the troops.
But if Great Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair can come, and U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of Central Command, can come, so should Bush, said Sgt. Jermaine Ellington, 25.

“It would have been nice for him to show us his support by being here,” Ellington said.

Safe or not, Ryals was disappointed by one thing: knowing Bush flew over Baghdad.

“He could have at least dropped some hamburgers or something.”
WHOO HOO!!! CPT PATTI HAS email finally. I got a note from her written very early this morning. An excerpt is below. I only cut out a line about an NCO that got sick, and, of course, the mushy stuff. Sounds as if the email is on some sort of "shared" computer, with folks waiting in line to use it. I wrote her back with a million questions, and I'll post the answers here, of course.

Man...I feel good.
Good morning, baby!

We finally have email!! Phone lines are absolutely useless.

I just want to send a quick one since we got people who need to email too. I got all your packages and your card. Also, I got a package from Cousin Cheryl. Thank you, thank you. We are all doing very well....We are really doing good. I'll write more later.
SUNDAY JUNE 8th. The 28th day of CPT Patti's deployment. She is in east-central Baghdad.