Saturday, July 12, 2003


Uday Hussein confirmed the link between his father and Osama Bin Laden?
Through an unusual set of circumstances, I have been given documentary evidence of the names and positions of the 600 closest people in Iraq to Saddam Hussein, as well as his ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

I am looking at the document as I write this story from my hotel room overlooking the Tigris River in Baghdad.

One of the lawyers with whom I have been working for the past five weeks had come to me and asked me whether a list of the 600 people closest to Saddam Hussein would be of any value now to the Americans.

I said, yes, of course. He said that the list contained not only the names of the 55 ''deck of cards'' players who have already been revealed, but also 550 others.

When I began questioning him about the list, how he obtained it and what else it showed, he asked would it be of interest to the Americans to know that Saddam had an ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

I said yes, the Americans have, so far as I am aware, have never been able to prove that relationship, but the president and others have said that they believe it exists. He said, ''Well, judge, there is no doubt it exists, and I will bring you the proof tomorrow.''

So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.

The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is ''responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.''...

The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. The story of how the document came about is as follows.

Saddam gave Uday authority to control all press and media outlets in Iraq. Uday was the publisher of the Babylon Daily Political Newspaper.

On the front page of the paper's four-page edition for Nov. 14, 2002, there was a picture of Osama bin Laden speaking, next to which was a picture of Saddam and his ''Revolutionary Council,'' together with stories about Israeli tanks attacking a group of Palestinians.

On the back page was a story headlined ''List of Honor.'' In a box below the headline was ''A list of men we publish for the public.'' The lead sentence refers to a list of ''regime persons'' with their names and positions.

The list has 600 names and titles in three columns. It contains, for example, the names of the important officials who are members of Saddam's family, such as Uday, and then other high officials, including the 55 American ''deck of cards'' Iraqi officials, some of whom have been apprehended.

Halfway down the middle column is written: ''Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan.'' (For more about the list, see accompanying article on this page.)

The lawyer who brought the newspaper to me, Samir, and another lawyer with whom I have been working, Zuhair, translated the Arabic words and described what had happened in Baghdad the day it was published.

Samir bought his paper at a newsstand at around 8 a.m. Within two hours, the Iraqi intelligence officers were going by every newsstand in Baghdad and confiscating the papers. They also went to the home of every person who they were told received a paper that day and confiscated it.

My thanks to Instapundit for pointing us to this story.

By the way, about the author of the article, Instapundit has to say "Those who know Judge Merritt -- a lifelong Democrat and a man of unimpeachable integrity -- will know just how significant this is."

You simply must read the whole thing here.
Marine Maj. Ian Stone is convinced the near daily killings of U.S. and British troops in Iraq are not a result of widespread anti-occupation sentiment.

"You can't convince me that there are segments of the population who have become disenfranchised or disillusioned with the United States," said Stone, 35, a Pensacola reservist who has just returned from Iraq.

"When we got there, we were considered the liberators by the vast majority of the population who lived under the tremendous brutality of the Saddam (Hussein) regime.

I can tell you that the majority of the population wants the Americans there, and they want the Americans to provide security," said Stone, who called airstrikes in on targets for the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines as they fought on the front lines on the march toward Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Stone is certain these attacks are the work of pockets of Hussein loyalists who are afraid to face the troops.

"They learned early that they can't face us in battle," he said. "The only way to face us is to suck us into an environment to take potshots at us."

Read it here.

Discusses the problem with media reporting, and the need for us to keep it all in perspective.
There's an common saying in the journalistic community that goes "if it bleeds, it leads."

Nothing personifies this policy more than the daily reports from Iraq of violent acts perpetrated upon coalition forces by every conceivable sort of enemy combatant. It's not that I object to being informed of current events in the region, but what disturbs me is that these are virtually the only news stories we seem to be getting on a continuous basis from that country...

22 U.S. military personnel were killed in combat in Iraq between May 1, the day that President Bush declared an end to major hostilities in that country, and July 1.

That is an average of 11 combat fatalities per month.

We may well pray that none of our young soldiers will be killed at the hands of our enemies, but when one considers that 11 children are murdered by their parents every single day in the United States, that number doesn't seem so very daunting.

Again, it's all a matter of maintaining a little perspective.

Read it all here. You will feel better.

As for me - since hearing from COL Tucker that the media accounts are giving us only the bad side of the story, I have taken the approach of looking a little bit harder for the good stories, or at least recognizing the "bad news bias" in the press.

And I've been finding the good news stories.

But not with anything like the frequency of spying the bad-news bias.

Point: When I spoke with CPT Patti this morning, her voice sparkled, and her spirit lifted me up.

Compare that to the headlines in your newspaper, indeed if there are any there today on this subject.

Now - which are you going to believe?

Keep it all in perspective.

This example is incredible. Note the headline from this Patkistani news source. Then see what follows in the story.

Headline: Several US soldiers killed in missile attack in Baghdad -- Detail Story

US military base in Ramadi city of Baghdad, whereas heavy blasts were heard in the south of the city.

US army patrol came under fire on the outskirts of the flashpoint town of Fallujah on Friday night, an AFP correspondent reported.

It was unclear whether there were any casualties.

An American military spokesman said he had no knowledge of the incident.

In other words, we heard a rumor, published the worst-case (best case, depending on our politics?) headlines, and go off to smoke a hookah pipe somewhere.


I reckon when you are the erstwhile mouthpiece for Saddam, it is a wise decision to get out of town.
''This departure is accompanied with mixed feelings. It has sadness and hope,'' al-Sahhaf told the station as his plane left Baghdad. ''My only solace is to be optimistic and remain faithful, and to side completely with the truth to stay alive and continue working.''...

Al-Sahhaf, who is in his early 60s, said he wants to find something ''useful'' to do for his family and fellow Iraqis. He said his family including a wife, daughter, son and five other relatives were happy to leave Iraq, though the ex-minister says he hopes to return someday.

''Every time I leave (Baghdad), I think that maybe I won't be back on that road (to Iraq) again,'' al-Sahhaf said. ''But I hope and pray to God that I can return.''


" side completely with the truth to stay alive and continue working."

Baghdad Bob wouldn't know the truth if it jumped up and kissed him on the lips.

The rest of the farce is here.

Brothers from Cincinnati are in Baghdad.
Michael wrote of going on patrols, looking for weapons and members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. His unit, he said, captured two of the former Iraqi leaders included in the famous deck of cards.

Both have told their parents of the extreme poverty they have witnessed in Iraq. In one letter, Patrick described being invited to lunch with an Iraqi family, sharing a meager meal of lamb and rice with several people eating from a single bowl.

"I think that has made more of an impression on them than anything else," Vicki Schmalle said. "They have seen how fortunate we are in this country."

Nice story here.

The Aussies control the Baghdad airspace.
There are two runways at the airport and the plan is to shift all military operations to one side and have civilian craft use the other.

For someone who’s been putting in constant 14-hour days in the tower, Squadron Leader Stephen Edgeley seems to smile way too much. He says that’s because he’s doing a job he likes.

“And we don’t have the same amount of constant traffic you would at, say, a large American airport,” he added.

But Browning, whose unit consists of personnel taken from across Australia, says there’s probably only three airports in his country — Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — that regularly handle as much traffic as his controllers do in Baghdad.

Read it all here.

UPDATE: More Baghdad-based Aussies in the press here.

The worst thing about the Iraqi summer is not being able to drink a cold Australian beer, they said. Iraq is an alcohol-free zone for the Australian Defense Force.

I bet.

Please note language that otherwise you might just skip over. In the first news release below note that it says "Iraqi civilians led a joint 1AD and Iraqi police patrol.

Symbolically and psychologically it is HUGE that this was led by Iraqis.

Makin' progress folks!
July 11, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-35



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces continued to strike pockets of resistance in Iraq in the effort to stabilize the former war torn country.

Iraqi civilians led a joint 1st Armored Division military and Iraqi police patrol to an improvised explosive device located over a gas pipeline in a market in Baghdad. The IED turned out to be a hand grenade inside of a soda can. First AD engineers were called to the scene to detonate the IED.

A 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment patrol team detained 31 individuals after observing them stealing ammunition crates from an ammunition storage point in Al Qaim. The 3rd ACR transported the individuals to a detention holding cell in Al Asad for questioning.

In the last 24 hours, the 1st AD conducted five raids resulting in 182 detained individuals and 24 mortar rounds, 12 pistols, five assault rifles, seven rocket-propelled grenades, and four anti-tank rounds confiscated.

Elsewhere, Coalition forces continued aggressive patrols throughout the country over the last 24 hours conducting 26 raids, 1,134-day patrols and 958 night patrols. They also jointly patrolled with the Iraqi Police conducting 205 day patrols and 221 night patrols. On their own, Iraqi Police conducted 10 day and six night patrols.

The total raids and patrols resulted in 99 arrests for various criminal activities including three for murder, three for car jacking, three for aggravated assault, nine for burglary, and 18 for looting.

July 12, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-36



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces continue to help rebuild Iraq through reconstruction and humanitarian aid. Employment issues and school rebuilding have dominated humanitarian efforts over the last 24 hours.

In Karbala, Coalition forces received more than 445 applications for the next Facilities Protection Services training class, which will begin next week. FPS personnel are responsible for guarding power plants, water treatment plants and other infrastructure services.

The selection process for FPS personnel continues in Fallujah as well. So far, Coalition forces have screened 223 FPS personnel, and 68 have completed training. Additionally, Military Police in Fallujah have begun staffing a Quick Reaction Force at the mayor’s office.

In Khanaquin, in the Ba’qubah area, Coalition forces assisted in the selection of more than 50 police department trainees. Trainees have already completed their first week.

Coalition forces are rebuilding communities in the Baghdad area through the efforts of soldiers involved in Task Force Neighborhood. Task Force Neighborhood is a partnership between Coalition forces and Iraqi civilians. U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians in Baghdad are working together to rebuild the Community Center in the Ad Hamiyah district. Many members of the community, including children, are volunteering their time on this project.

Also in Baghdad, Coalition forces reviewed the progress of a project to refurbish the 17th of July High School for girls in the Kadhimyah district. Coalition forces purchased chairs, desks, air conditioners and laboratory equipment for the school at a cost of $4,749. The school’s administrator stated that the project has made a significant impact on both students and teachers.

July 12, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-37



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Two 4th Infantry Division soldiers were wounded and one subsequently died from a non-hostile gunshot incident.

Both soldiers were evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital for treatment.

The names of the soldiers are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The incident is currently under investigation.

Completely unprecedented...Patti and I got to talk for nearly half an hour today. Which means we were able to get past the "how are yous" and such.

For those of you who have asked if you can adopt a single soldier who might not be getting packages, hang on. CPT Patti was clearly annoyed that the list of those names wasn't complete. She assured me it will be tonight.

Among the things she said to me that makes me feel better - she said that all classes of supply are now being "pushed" to her company. What that means is the higher unit in the supply chain is delivering to CPT Patti's location. This greatly reduces the amount of exposure her soldiers have around Baghdad.

The exception to the above is that when there is fresh food available, CPT Patti's crew has to go and pick that up. That isn't happening a lot yet...hopefully as it picks up, the bad things in Baghdad will subside.

CPT Patti's troops may among the busiest in Baghdad. You see, her company provides the food, the ammunition, the spare repair parts, the water and the fuel for the vehicles for 4200 soldiers in Baghdad. Those supply items are consumed every day. So the Gators' mission never stops.

Not a lot of down time for the Gators.

But then, I'm guessing that a lot of down time in Baghdad is probably not a good thing these days. Keeping busy probably is.

CPT Patti says she feels very good about their mission. She says "it means everything to be the lifeline to these 4200 troops in the 1st Brigade Combat Team". (Recall yesterday about the necessity of soldiers believing in their mission...)

CPT Patti admits the MREs are getting old. (Quick note here - since some of you know I once was in charge of the Army Food Program and MRE development - Army doctrine says that MREs will be the primary food source for only up to 30 days. We are well beyond that now...not sure what is preventing more meals from being fresh food). Anyway, she says the dry and canned foods we send augment their meals nicely.

Please add Ramen noodles (beef or chicken flavors) if you are packing care packages for CPT Patti. And please get the "Cup o' Noodles" brand, the one that comes in its own styrofoam cup so she can add water and microwave (yes, they have a microwave oven).

She also is raving over some chewy granola bar that has "almonds, peanuts, honey and cranberries" in it. I've got to track that one down. But perhaps you know what she means.

I asked about TV and Radio. They do not yet have TV signals, but do have DVD players and such. And they haven't been able to find AFN radio signals yet either. I'll work on that.

She told me that their sleeping quarters all have at least a swamp cooler. (If you don't know what a swamp cooler is, read this site here.) Air conditioning is another matter, because they don't yet have sufficient power to push the air conditioning units.

And folks, she sounds terrific. I asked her about her spirit...she says it is good. She confesses to having the occasional down moment, "but it passes" she said.

Tells me they are getting their battle rhythm...which is an army term for adapting to the mission at hand, and perfecting their craft so that days become almost routine, instead of a break-neck pace of solving a whole bunch of problems for the first time.

And she tells me that the new battalion commander is just wonderful to work with.

If you will, keep praying for her. It seems to be working.
SATURDAY, JULY 12th. The 62d day of CPT Patti's deployment.

At 1:20a.m. this morning she was able to make an internet connection and send me an email note.

In part here is what she wrote:
I usually eat the goodies you send me and one MRE and the UGR meal. I really really love the fruit cups and mandarian oranges. Keep sending those.

Also, could you please send me boxes and boxes of the Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bar flavor fruits, nuts, and cranberry. It has been circling around here and I ate two the other day. MMMmmmm, good!

Please send more Gatorade powder mix - Lemon-Lime and/or orange.

I always can use more beef jerky. My favorite is the Oberto kind.

Keep up the wonderful packages and letters. I am keeping everything!

OK so it was less a note than a shopping list and a description of her eating habits. Hell, I'm just glad to hear from her.

And those of you who have asked me of late what does she need...well here it is. (By the way, the mandarin oranges she is talking about are orange pieces in syrup - they come in a pack of 3 I think, packed in clear plastic cups so she can eat the fruit with a spoon. Find them at the grocers along side more traditionally canned fruit.

Friday, July 11, 2003


But Weasels and other Europeans are sometimes fun to watch.

There is a real brouhaha going over here as Italy's Prime Minister Berlusconi recently insulted a German Minister of the European Pariliament by comparing him to a Nazi.

Then Italy's tourism minister said all German tourists were "hyper-nationalistic blondes", which prompted Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to cancel his Italian holiday (vacation).

Today Das Bild, a popular newspaper in Germany (if not exactly a paragon of journalistic virtue) strikes back.
Germany's Bild newspaper is organising a free flight for Germans to the Italian resort of Rimini in an attempt to prove wrong the Italian minister who called Germans ''hyper-nationalistic,'' loud and arrogant.

''Bild will show how friendly, cheerful and pleasant German holidaymakers really are,'' the top-selling daily said, continuing a campaign against the comments from Italian junior minister Stefano Stefani that prompted Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to cancel his Italian holiday.

Bild staged a ''beach demonstration'' in front of the Italian embassy in Berlin on Thursday with topless models on deckchairs to prove how ''beautiful, sexy and charming'' the Germans are.

Bild also published a list of Italian phrases German tourists may need in ''these difficult times.''

The phrases include:...

"Great wine, do you have any other warm drinks?,''


The Italians are not happy over this...consider this:

Local authorities in Pesaro (Italy) said Wednesday they were considering suing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for damages as a result of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's decision to cancel a planned trip to the Italian resort.

And small wonder because the article goes on to say:

Up to 10 million German tourists visit Italy each year. Many of them travel to Italy's Adriatic Riviera, not far from Pesaro.

Read it all here.

Of course, Chancellor Schroeder was featured on this site recently upon his triumph in the German courts in obtaining an injunction against a magazine for speculating that he dies his hair.

The mainstream German press are less enthusiastic than Das Bild about the friction between Germany and Italy, accusing the chancellor of distraction techniques.

"Berlin’s Die Welt newspaper wrote that German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder can definitely rely on his political instinct when in hot water.

Temporarily, Germany has forgotten about its domestic problems and seems more interested in where its leader will be vacationing."

And Americans will also recall that when Schroeder was staring defeat in the face, he lambasted the USA and President Bush over Iraq in order to save a faultering election bid.

Curiouser and curiouser.


And soldiers are not social workers.

We talked about this here on Monday, July 7th saying "And therefore, in my opinion we get into the business of "exemplary participation" meaning we send soldiers to areas of the world just as volunteers flock to Habitat for Humanity building sites. "

And now the Washington Post, that is the left leaning Washington Post says it a whole lot better than I ever could.

It was the left that led the opposition to war in Iraq. Now it is the left that is most strenuous in urging intervention in Liberia. Curious.

No blood for oil, it seems, but blood for Liberia. And let us not automatically assume that Liberia will be an immaculate intervention. Sure, we may get lucky and suffer no casualties. But Liberia has three warring parties, tons of guns and legions of desperate fighters. Yet pressure is inexorably building to send American troops to enforce a peace.

There are the usual suspects, Jesse Jackson and the New York Times, but the most unapologetic proponent of the no-Iraq/yes-Liberia school is Howard Dean, Democratic flavor of the month. "I opposed the war in Iraq because it was the wrong war at the wrong time," says Dean, but "military intervention in Liberia represents an appropriate use of American power...

The only conclusion one can draw is that for liberal Democrats, America's strategic interests are not just an irrelevance, but also a deterrent to intervention. This is a perversity born of moral vanity.

For liberals, foreign policy is social work. National interest -- i.e., national selfishness -- is a taint. The only justified interventions, therefore, are those that are morally pristine, namely, those that are uncorrupted by any suggestion of national interest.

Read the whole thing here and be smarter all week.

There is more discussion here about us marching off to Liberia.

There is not even a peripheral, much less a vital, U.S. interest at stake in Liberia. It might be possible to find a country that is less relevant than Liberia to America's security and well-being, but it would take a major effort...

There is suffering going on in numerous places around the world. Indeed, the scale of human misery is far greater in such places as the Congo, Cuba, Myanmar, North Korea, and Sudan than it is in Liberia.

From a moral standpoint, how can the Bush administration justify intervening in Liberia while declining to use force in those other cases? Yet if the United States intends to intervene everywhere bad things happen, our military will be busy in perpetuity.

Humanitarian intervention is, therefore, an impractical, bankrupt policy.


As happens with any deployment, "Dear John" letters have begun arriving in Iraq. Always devastating, they arrive now not only as written correspondence, but also as phone calls or e-mails. Most are generated by the uncertainty of the current deployment.

"When I read the letter, it brought tears to my eyes," says a young corporal in Iraq who has been married for about a year and asked not to be named. Army press officers provided his remarks in response to a query about morale. "She said she can't deal with the stress of being alone.

"I was looking forward to getting the job done and getting home to my wife," he says. "Now, I don't even have that."...

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who is investigating this issue, says the military now has "fewer warriors, more missions, longer deployments, frequent moves, more spouses working and more children."

Bruce Bell, a senior research psychologist with the Army Research Institute, says key factors that can drive good soldiers out of today's all-volunteer Army are frequent deployments, shorter periods at home and deployments with no known date of return. All three are at work for many of the GIs now overseas.

"I would not recommend having the soldiers out as long as we have," Bell says.

Read it all here. It isn't pretty, but it is authentic.

And reminds us once again that it is all a simple formula. Greater presence around the world requires greater numbers of soldiers which means a larger, not a smaller army.

Unless you've got nominations for the big jobs that just won't get done.
The system isn’t perfect. There’s no separate prison for those who have been convicted, so they live in the jail with those waiting to see a judge. And the Iraqi police force is still small and developing.

But for the city of 500,000 people, with four times that in the entire province, the process is moving steadily.

“It’s not the perfect system,” White said. “But it’s better than it was.”

Read and understand that progress is happening, but still requires time.

Senator Kerry hopes that he can spin the rhetoric on the conflict in Iraq...and is betting that you won't catch him doing it.

"The president was flown to an aircraft carrier to announce that hostilities in Iraq had ended," Kerry, a highly decorated Vietnam combat veteran, said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

"Now, clearly, it's time for the president to step forward and tell the truth that the war is continuing and so are the casualties."

No, senator. The President did not announce "hostilities had ended". In fact, what he said was: "(M)y fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

So to this nonsense senator, that the President should step forward to "tell the truth that the war is continuing and so are the casualties", do you senator take the American public to be complete idiots?

We all know the war is least those of us who have any sense of global awareness. In fact, in that same speech from the aircraft carrier the President said "We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. "

Sounds a lot like "it isn't over yet" to me. What about you senator, now that you've been reminded of the facts outside of your little charade to gain political points on the backs of US servicemen and women?

And those of us with loved ones in Baghdad can tell you the body count on any given day, senator. As the president said just yesterday, senator: "There's no question we have a security issue in Iraq, and we've just got to deal with it person to person. We're going to have to remain tough.''

All in all senator, your efforts to spin and shave this into political points for your presidential campaign disgust me.

You are a veteran. You should do better by your brothers in arms.

What's worse is that you believe you can get away with this revisionism because you hold with such little regard the intellect of the average voter.

Go away and come back when you have a real message.


Huge symbolic step here.
Representatives of the major political, ethnic and religious groups of Iraq — some of them skilled politicians, some of them exile leaders coming home and others political neophytes united by their suffering under Saddam Hussein — will declare the first postwar interim government in Iraq this weekend, Western and Iraqi officials said tonight.

In an interview tonight, L. Paul Bremer III, the top American administrator in Iraq, said that in the course of negotiations over the new governing structure, he had made a number of "tactical adjustments" to meet the demands of the Iraqis. One of those adjustments, Iraqi political figures said, was to grant assurances that the majority of the council's members would be Shiites.

Mr. Bremer said the governing council would appoint and supervise a council of ministers that would run the government, send diplomats abroad to represent Iraq, establish a new currency, set fiscal and budget policy and, perhaps, take a prominent role in national security even as the country remains garrisoned by American and British troops.

"If they appoint a minister and he doesn't perform, they can fire him," Mr. Bremer said. "That's pretty executive."

And a step forward for a country that once upon a time truly put the "execute" in the term "executive".

Read it all here.
U.S. soldiers withdrew Friday from a police station in this tense western Iraqi town after Iraqi officers complained that the American presence put them at risk, the head of the town's police force told The Associated Press.

Col. Jalal Sabri said the Americans left the station Friday morning. The U.S. military would not confirm his account.

Police in the town said they were willing to work with the Americans, but did not want them using the station as a base, fearing it would make the Iraqi officers the target of pro-Saddam insurgents.

"We feel more comfortable because of this withdrawal. We can solve the problems here better than the Americans and communicate better with the people,'' Sabri said.

"We have told the Americans many times that we have the capability. We asked them to give us a chance and see our work. If they don't like how we perform, they can come back.''

Fair enough. Let's try it.
''Comical Ali''...made a sudden appearance in Abu Dhabi on Friday, saying he might not return to his homeland.

Read the continued adventures of this buffoon here.

Trying to find the line between freedom and anarchy. In this case it was on the sole of this man's shoe.
Other U.S. soldiers, however, have come to the aid of the traffic police. One Iraqi officer remembers how a stopped driver, asked to produce his license, instead took off his shoe and handed it out the window, a grave Arab insult.

Immediately a soldier patrolling nearby walked up, and the driver reached for his real license.

"No, I want to see the one you gave this guy," the soldier said. The man reluctantly handed the soldier the shoe and in return got a whack on the shoulder with it before it was handed back.

Read about it here.

How 'ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, once they've see gay Paris?

I'm betting that is exactly the result Mr. Bremer is looking for.
Tarik Assad seemed the paragon of prosperity Tuesday as he lugged a new kitchen stove into the trunk of his car in Baghdad's Kerradeh district. The four-burner, Chinese-made model had cost only $90 -- a great bargain, he said.

Under Saddam Hussein, the same model cost about $150, more than a month's salary in Assad's job as an accountant for the national oil ministry. Now, the $90 is less than half his new monthly salary of $200.

"Thank God," he said. "My wife will be happy."

The down side is that the old Stalinist type state manufacturing behemoths can't compete, so folks will lose those jobs in the near term.

But just as free markets trample inefficiencient practices, so too do they bring opportunities.

Read it all here.

It's true that Syverson opposes the war. He has written his position, in its most succinct form, on the sign next to Bryce and Branden's photographs.

"Iraqi Oil," it says, "Isn't Worth My Sons' Blood."

"I think you can be against the war and still be a good American," Syverson says. "We're a proud family, and we support our troops."

Many of the Syversons, in fact, are the troops. All four of his sons enlisted; three chose military careers. Syverson himself was never in the military, though he says he came close to being drafted to serve in Vietnam. His late father, Ralph, was an Air Force navigator who earned a Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II.

The story raises a fundamental question - can you oppose our actions in Iraq and still support the troops?

I suppose that hinges upon one's definition of "support".

CPT Patti's father, Pastor Paul served in Viet Nam. He, like so many others, received the scorn of much of the nation, which seemed to blame the soldiers for the politicians decisions.

We seem to have moved well beyond that...most of us no longer blame soldiers for doing their duty.

Still, as an old soldier myself, I'm not sure that "support" is simply the absence of blame and a wish that you return home safely.

"I love you and hold you dear, but I don't believe in the mission that you bust your butt to do every day" seems to me to be the implication.

Of course, the disagreement may be much more fundamental than that. From the father's sign we can infer he believes the USA went to war in Iraq to obtain Iraqi oil.

I am disappointed in the cynicism of that position. Nowhere that we have gone in recent history have we plundered for our gain. No, we have a history of sending soldiers to help others. I am certain in my heart that this notion of war for oil will be completely dispelled over time when we pull out of Iraq and leave their oil reserves to them.

It isn't an issue in my mind. I've worn the uniform. I know the nobility of the calling. And that of the United States. But for folks like the father here, I suppose the only way to prove we aren't there for the oil is to ultimately leave without it.

Sad, what little confidence he has in the nation that out of sheer circumstance must lead the world. How wonderful to me that it is our nation to whom the job falls, for to what other nation would you entrust such a job?

And so I return to question of separating support for soldiers from support for their mission.

My definition of support includes doing everything I can for CPT Patti's morale.

Before she left, and again every time I speak or write to her, I tell her how proud I am of her. That she and her soldiers are making a little bit of history.

You see, she needs to believe that in order to lead and motivate her soldiers.

And her soldiers need to believe that they are doing good and making a difference to the current and future generations of Iraqis in order to endure the hardships and separations.

The soldiers heartfelt effort is inevitably tied to the soldiers conviction of the nobility of the mission.

So, upon what does a soldier ground his motivation and hope if that soldier's closest relatives ascribe the mission to mere interests of plunder? In some ways doesn't this make the soldier have to choose between believing in one's self versus believing in one's family support system?

How does the soldier approach the question of injury under these circumstances, knowing that "should I lose an arm, my father will always believe it was a waste"?

Everyday we read stories right here on CPT Patti's site where soldiers indicate the sacrifices they make are alright...citing statements such as "There was days when we wouldn't even eat, and we would just give all our food up. It's something that I would never want to experience again. But we felt that was what we needed to do" or that we are "A positive force for Iraq".

And so, in the end, I believe that CPT Patti, my soldier, our girl, needs something more from her family and close friends beyond a lack of blame for the war, and a wish that she come home safely.

CPT Patti needs to know that she is in harms way, enduring 115 degree heat and flies and mosquitoes because she is assisting a people in nothing less noble than their liberation and offering to them the gift of liberty.

You see, those principles were sufficient for us to go to war 227 years ago.

I'd say they still are.

If you haven't told your soldier how proud you are of them lately, then today is your chance to correct that oversight.
July 10, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-34



BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Soldiers from the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion seized 12 Iraqi artifacts while conducting a raid on a residence of a suspected smuggler here on July 7.

The artifacts consisted of miniature statues, a skull and a clay bowl. A local archeologist determined one of the artifacts to be pre-Samarian, dated 3000 – 3200 BC. According to the archeologist, all of the pieces had been previously at the Baghdad Museum.

The artifacts were found wrapped in towels in a rice bag in the residence along with AK-47s, grenades, several million Iraqi dinar and communications equipment.

Coalition forces also detained two prospective buyers. All individuals are being detained pending further investigation.
FRIDAY, JULY 11th. The 61st day of CPT Patti's deployment.

It has been 8 days since I last heard from her.

Thursday, July 10, 2003


Some of you have asked for a rendering of LTC Coleman's remarks (the former 501st Battalion Commander) from the Family Readiness Group meeting on Monday, July 7th.

Check the links block on the right. You will find the link there.
Other jokes center on the danger of telling Saddam the truth.

One cool spring evening, Saddam is out on the balcony of one of his palaces watching the sun go down with Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

A flock of ducks flies close to the palace, the birds honking as they approach. The noise disturbs Saddam's peaceful mood. "Ramadan, kill those ducks," he says.

The vice president dutifully picks up an AK-47 rifle and fires away at the ducks. He fails to hit a single bird.

Saddam shakes his head, then grabs the gun and hands it to the deputy prime minister. "Aziz, kill them!" he orders.

The deputy prime minister aims and shoots off a burst of automatic fire. Again, none of the birds is hit.

Saddam is really angry at this point and pulls the gun from Aziz's hands. "Can't anybody in this government shoot straight besides me?" he asks.

He takes the gun and empties the clip in the direction of the flock. All the birds sail by, honking happily as they pass.

There is an awkward silence as Saddam blows on the barrel and places the rifle against the balcony wall. Aziz and Ramadan exchange nervous glances. Suddenly Aziz points toward the birds and shouts, "Look - dead birds flying!"

There are more here.
Mahdi Saleh has been looking over his shoulder for weeks, ever since his name began popping up in red graffiti threatening death for the tens of thousands of informants Saddam Hussein and his Baath party relied on to enforce a maniacal control over Iraq's population.

''With the blessing of God, we will start the campaign to execute the Baathist monkeys,'' reads the Arabic scrawled on a wall in Baghdad's Aden Square. A short distance away, the warning continues with a list of several names, including Saleh's.

''These are the criminal traitors,'' it says.

Tens of thousands of people like Saleh have gone into hiding or are watching their backs since the fall of the regime in April. Hundreds have been killed by vigilantes taking revenge.

Interesting. Read it here.
Bremer stopped short of confirming that any specific mobile phone technology had been officially chosen, but said the CPA would make some recommendations to the council.

"There is no decision on the type of technology to use," the Iraqi official at the ministry said.

Selfish of me, I know. But I'd like to be able to call my wife.

Story here.
More than 80 Iraqi women were scheduled to meet in Baghdad July 9 to discuss their place in society and how they can participate in rebuilding Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority reported.

An Iraqi steering committee organized the event, with the facilitative support of the CPA, according to a CPA press release. Planned activities included discussions on constitutionalism, legal reform, education, and health and social services, the press release said.

"While differing views are likely to be expressed, there is one common aim -- to see Iraqi women play a full role in society," said the press release.

Make no mistake about it...we have a huge stake in this. For if women are expected to play a role then by definition Iraq cannot become an Islamic theocracy.

Which would be good news for the future of Iraq.

Read it all here.


More on this story can be found here. And it is good.

Fawzia al-Atia, another woman participant, adjusted her glasses, stared down at the reporter from the podium and lectured him just as she would any of her sociology students at Baghdad University.

''We know that Islam is one of the most accommodating religions in the world that defends the rights of women, and we know historically that women have fought alongside men, they traveled, they traded, but now we see that certain segments of society are using the name of Islam as a screen to create discrimination,'' she said sternly.

The men bristled at her response. ..

''We must not mix religion with politics,'' warned Othman. ''We are religious people, we are Muslims, but we must go forward.''

You said it sister.
France and Germany have rejected a suggestion from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Europe's opponents of the recent war in Iraq should contribute troops for Iraq's post-war stabilisation.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and the German Defence Ministry said a clear UN mandate was needed first.

Oh, you mean like when hell freezes over.

Story here.
The coolest thing I've gotten to do out here was a prisoner of war guard. Well, they weren't really prisoners of war. We've taken over the police's job until they get enough trained cops to do it themselves. So they were just regular criminals I was guarding.

It was still a very good experience for me. I did my best to make things very easy on them. The conditions we had them in were not that great, but ours weren't either.

They only stayed for one night, then were moved somewhere else. I took it upon myself to do as much for them as I could. I felt really bad for a lot of them. Most were thieves or own weapons, which America has recently outlawed. Only a few attacked soldiers (about three out of 20).

Almost all of them were very nice and cooperative. I always got them water and food like we were supposed to, but I went the extra mile by (as we like to say, "beg, borrow, or steal") acquiring extra stuff for them, like some ice for their water so they wouldn't have to drink 90-degree water in 100-degree weather or cardboard for the floor because they were just sleeping on the dirt.

If they had to go to the bathroom, I got up and took them no matter what I was doing (most people forced them to wait). I found lights so they could see at night, even found them some snacks like candy or peanut butter and crackers.


Read his entire letter here.
Nearly two months after dissolving Saddam Hussein's army, officials of the U.S.-led occupation said Wednesday that recruiting for a new force will begin next week.

Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton said recruiting will start July 19 in Baghdad, the northern city of Mosul and the southern city of Basra. A 1,000-strong contingent will begin training in August and a further 12,000 by year's end. The number of trained recruits will reach 40,000 by the end of 2004, he said.

Members of the four top levels in Saddam's now-banned Baath party will not be allowed to join the new army, said Eaton, an American who will be in charge of the training.

"This is the seed of the future Iraqi armed forces," he told reporters. "They will be representative of all people of Iraq."

Those eligible to join the army must be between 18 and 40 years of age. During the two-month training period, they'll be paid $60 monthly. Recruits who successfully complete training must serve a minimum of 26 months and their salaries will be determined according to rank.

"A highly functional armed force will be an army to secure the nation, not the will be unpolitical" and represent Iraq culturally, ethnically and religiously, Eaton said.

Read it all here.
Omar Abdullah Hadi, a 23-year-old money changer from the northern city of Mosul, says he was a fugitive from Saddam's regime and has no love for the dictator. But if Saddam is hiding in Iraq, no amount of money will flush him out.

"This reward bears no relation to what will happen," he says. "We are tribal people. That's the main reason they won't give him up. It's not about benefiting from Saddam. It's about our tribal customs, that say when a visitor comes into your house, you must treat him well."

We have a custom dealing with "visitors" too.

It says "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law".

Amendment III, United States Constitution.

They deserve to come home and take a long breather.

But now I get concerned as to who replaces them. They have been covering some of the most volatile areas in Iraq.

The Army's 3rd Infantry Division is beginning a phased pullout of its 16,000 troops, with the entire unit expected back in the United States by September, he said. The division, which played a central role in capturing Baghdad in April, is based at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Rumsfeld said the division's 3rd Brigade has already reached Kuwait and will be heading home this month. The 2nd Brigade, which had been in the region for 10 months, will be home in August and the 1st Brigade will return in September. He said each of the final two brigades to leave Iraq will have been in the Gulf region for 10 months by the time they depart.

In the immediate aftermath of the toppling of Saddam's government in April, it was expected that the 3rd Infantry Division would go home by June. But the soldiers were kept longer because of a surge of anti-U.S. violence in Baghdad and elsewhere in central Iraq.

Rumsfeld said there are now 148,000 American troops in Iraq. He did not say whether the 3rd Infantry Division would be replaced by another U.S. unit, although he said he expects thousands of international soldiers to begin operating in the country by late summer or early fall.

On the flip side, however...this redeployment (coming home) by the 3d ID doesn't happen in a vacuum. It will be part of a larger, overall strategy called a rotation plan.

So, it is just possible that any day now we might get a glimpse of that rotation strategy...and have some idea when our girl might head home.

However, I can guarantee you this. It won't be soon enough.
Two generator mechanics from the 501st Forward Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division, helped restore much needed power to the Iraq’s national orthopedic hospital recently...

After several failed attempts to receive help from local sources, hospital directors called Old Ironsides mechanics.

“They called UNICEF, the International Red Cross, the Iraqi Ministry of Health and none of them could help them,” said. Dr. (Col.) Gerald Greenfield, 286th Forward Surgical Team. “The hospital director came to our facility to ask for help, and the people at the 501st allocated two of their generator mechanics.”

Greenfield said electricity runs everything in the hospital. “If the generators go down, the hospital fails,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do if the generators go down. There are no options.”

No options, that is, except to call the US Army. Read it all here.

July 10, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-32



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Two soldiers were killed and one wounded in two separate hostile incidents on July 9.

A 3rd Corps Support Command soldier was shot and killed when a convoy was ambushed by small arms fire near the city of Al Mahmudiyah at approximately 6:30 p.m.

In a second incident, a 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed and one wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on their convoy at approximately 10:30 p.m. The soldiers were evacuated to a nearby medical facility for treatment.

The soldiers’ names are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

July 10, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-33



BALAD, Iraq – A 4th Infantry Division soldier died on July 9 from a non-hostile gunshot incident.

The soldier was evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital and pronounced dead.

The soldier’s name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification.


The rebirth of a nation. If you only read one entire story today, make it this one.
Before the second vote, every council candidate gave a two-minute speech about why they should be on the council. A 52-year-old mechanical engineer who had been arrested for not joining the Baath Party was the top vote-getter.

"I am here for the sake of our children and for the suffering of the past," Saleb Al Geilali said. "I don't know what we did to deserve this suffering. I shall pray for the coalition forces and for our people."

Dhari was the second top vote-getter and Ali Al Havday was elected to the third seat on the Baghdad City Council. The woman, Dr. Malida Sail, the coalition invitee to the meeting, received the second fewest votes in her council seat bid.

The step forward in democracy was followed by Gold standing up and announcing he was "throwing mud into the ice cream cone."

"Even in a democracy you get directives. Sometimes you call it quotas," Gold said using a word with no Arabic equivalent. "We were throwing out gentle hints about a woman being on the council, we were hoping one would be voted in. We will create an additional seat (a fourth seat) on the council for a woman. Whether you agree or disagree with this directive, you will have to do it."

Four days later, a dozen women attended a meeting of the representatives and Sail was the top vote-getter among them, officially winning a seat on the council which met for the first time less than a week later.
“Everybody was looking forward to coming over here.”

Camp Babylon, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters, has some rare finds for a military camp in the region: a pool, good chow, washers and dryers, one of Saddam Hussein’s grandiose palaces and the ruins of Babylon, the ancient city of biblical fame, conquered repeatedly through history.

The ruins aren’t much, and Saddam’s attempt at reconstruction might make an archaeologist cringe, but the mystique of the place is still attractive.

See it all here.
THURSDAY, JULY 10th. The 60th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Have you prayed for our girl, indeed all our soldiers today?

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Starting in early June mail began arriving by plane directly into Baghdad International Airport where it is sorted at a special processing center before being shipped out to 10 American different bases throughout the country where it is then handed out to the more than 160,000 American troops in Iraq.

Starting in June, the 461st Personnel Service Battalion out of Decatur, Ga., took over mail delivery duty. Hudson took his 246 troops assigned to the Joint Military Mail Terminal and moved them into an airport warehouse.

The troops cleared away an Iraqi storage facility, gutting the warehouse from top to bottom, and then converted it into a modern, although hardly high-tech mail sorting center to take on the mountain of backlogged mail and the additional 300,000 to 600,000 pounds of mail arriving daily.

According to CPT Patti, receiving packages in the mail is the biggest morale booster there is.
Krupa, 25, was assured he would return home in time for a July wedding. The Army changed plans but allowed him a brief leave that has brought his family joy and relief.

On Tuesday, his military firearm was replaced by a merchandise gun at a Bed Bath & Beyond store, as the couple registered gifts for their Santa Cruz wedding. The soldier, in jeans and running shoes, roamed the air-conditioned aisles, fingering flannel sheets and comforters -- looking for warmth wherever he spotted it.

"Everywhere he goes, he's freezing," Haggerty said. "When we're looking for flannel sheets in July, that worries me."

Its a good it here.

And it is just as COL Tucker told us it was.
While much of the country has improved access to power, it is at Baghdad's cost. The capital enjoyed 24-hour access to electricity under Saddam Hussein, said Strock, a member of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers who is deputy director of operations for the civilian authority.

"There's never been enough electricity to go around, and Saddam definitely used the provision of utilities as a political tool to reward those he wanted to reward and punish those he wanted to punish," Strock said when telephoned in Baghdad.

Now Baghdad -- with 5.5 million people -- is feeling the pinch as the coalition tries to spread electricity more equitably throughout the country. All the while, violence against U.S. forces has increased with five soldiers killed and four wounded in separate attacks over the last week in the city.

The Coalition Provisional Authority is launching a major information campaign to convince Baghdadis that the loss of power is not punishment but an attempt to spread the pain of an antiquated and oft-sabotaged power system, said Andy Bearpark, the CPA's director of regional services in Baghdad.

The rest is here.
American forces have dubbed one stretch of road near Baghdad "RPG Alley" due to the frequent attacks on troops moving through the area.

As predicted on this site.

Read all about RPGs here.

It is a succinct report on the progress and status of the infrastructure rebuilding.

And for once, instead of telling us where the shortcomings are, it gives us a sense of the progress being made.
"When I say 'we,' I'm talking about the collective efforts of the coalition military, the U.S. Agency for International Development and their British counterpart, DFID. We're talking about the private sector, nongovernmental organizations. But most importantly, we're talking about the Iraqis themselves," Strock added. "

We have found here that the Iraqi public servants are wonderfully competent and remarkably committed to serving the Iraqi people. They have worked under some very, very tough circumstances both during and after the war, and yet they continue to stay at their posts and provide services to the people."

Strock said that electricity is "probably the most important thing we're doing right now." He described the Iraqi electrical system as "antiquated," using basically "1960s technology."

"The capacity of this system is about 7,800 megawatts. And the real important figure here is the fact that due to its age and condition, they can only generate about 4,500 megawatts. The national demand right now is about 6,000 megawatts, and so you can see that right away, there will be shortages of electricity," Strock said.

Al-Ani's capture has been considered key to U.S. efforts to try to link Iraq with al Qaeda - and possibly the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults.

While both the CIA and FBI have been unable to prove the April 2001 meeting between al-Ani and Atta took place, some top Czech officials have insisted it occurred - and they say the pair also powwowed a year earlier.

Al-Ani was a vice consul at the Iraqi Embassy in Prague at the time.

See it here.

Certainly a headline you don't see everyday.
"It's true that we're suffering from a lack of water and electricity cuts, but that will sort itself out," says Mohammed Yussef, a 21-year-old Shiite in central Baghdad.

Sitting behind the wheel of an old car that he has transformed into a taxi to earn a living, Mohammed had been waiting in line for more than three hours at a filling station.

With the country's fuel pipelines and refineries suffering sabotage attacks and looting after the fall of the regime, just getting hold of fuel has become an arduous task, despite Iraq possessing the world's second largest oil reserves.

But Mohammed remains patient.

"The Americans did well to get rid of Saddam. Little by little life is getting back to normal," he says.

Read it all here.
With his dark-tinted sunglasses and modest clothing, Al Faily was congratulated by nearby friends after Col. Peter Mansoor, 43, 1st Armored Division's 1st Brigade commander, announced the winner between four candidates.

"Democracy has arrived in Baghdad," said Mansoor, who is originally from Sacramento, Calif. "Make your voice be heard. This is only the beginning and definitely not the end."

Mansoor congratulated Al Faily with a handshake and hopefully a new friendship between his soldiers and the people of the Rusfa District.

With a permanent smile etched into his cheeks, Al Faily said his biggest concern for a post-Saddam Baghdad is fixing the numerous problems created by the former dictator.

"I want to help all of my people who live in Rusfa," said the office accountant. "I want to fix the biggest problem which is the lack of security in the area."

And readers from Friedberg will want to know that 1/36 Infantry plays a big role in this story.
But the look in some of their eyes reveals the emotion is not entirely for others - it is personal, it is painful and it is eating them up.

With each passing day of heat, dirt and squalor, there is a simmering resentment among some of the men of the 2-70. Some of the repressed hostility is focused on Iraqis and some of it is reserved for commanders who are perceived to work in distant, air conditioned offices far away from the conditions they endure.

Sometimes that pent-up rage and psychic damage has boiled over. One soldier had to be wrestled to the ground by other soldiers after he loaded his M-16 in camp after a minor dispute with another soldier. A few men have been psychologically evaluated and one soldier has been sent home because of his mental health condition.

It is not a pleasant story, but it sounds very authentic.

Those soldiers deserve to go home. But, of course, we've discussed the lack of replacement forces already.
The combat engineers inside the tan Humvees had traversed the Wedding Island Bridge dozens of times to fetch their translator. It was a routine trip, soldiers in the unit said. Cross the narrow bridge. Pick him up. Drive back over the bridge to complete their assignment for the day.

But today, as they headed onto the bridge at 9:10 a.m., the lead Humvee encountered what has become another routine for U.S. forces in this simmering city. A bone-rattling explosion punched the vehicle several feet into the air and spewed an orange fireball and a cloud of black smoke...

Because the blast did not result in a death or serious injury, it was not mentioned to reporters by the U.S. military's public information office. But military officials acknowledged that such non-fatal attacks are more widespread than daily casualty figures reflect.

The whole story is here.
July 8, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-27



BALAD, Iraq – A U.S. soldier attached to the 101st Airborne Division died of a gunshot wound in a non-combat incident on July 7.

The name of the soldier is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification.

July 9, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-28



BAGHDAD, Iraq – One former Iraqi leader surrendered and another was captured July 8 in two unrelated incidents. Both members are listed on the U.S. Central Command “Iraqi Top 55.”

Mizban Khadr Al Hadi, a high-ranking member of the Ba’ath Party Regional Command and Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) and number 23 on the coalition’s list of wanted government officials, turned himself in to Coalition forces in Baghdad.

Mahmud Dhiyab Al-Ahmad, former Minister of Interior and number 29 on the Top 55 list, was captured by Coalition forces and now is in custody.

Coalition forces will continue to work at apprehending former members of the Saddam Hussein regime.
WEDNESDAY JULY 9th. The 59th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Bet she could really use a beer about now.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Next let's examine the track record of guerrilla war. The guerrilla fighter is, of course, a staple of left-wing romanticism. Mao, Ho, Fidel, Che — these constitute the pantheon of "peoples' war." But it is hard to point to a case in which guerrillas were successful without outside support and the existence of a conventional force of some sort. The guerrillas in Iraq lack both. Rooting them out will be a matter of time. Patience is the key.

The issue of troop strength in Iraq has been a major source of misunderstanding. When critics claim that the Army is too small to do what is necessary in Iraq, they don't necessarily mean that the force in country is too small, but that the Army as a whole is stretched so thin to meet vastly expanded requirements, not only in Iraq but throughout the globe, that readiness problems will begin to undercut military effectiveness.

The Army is especially concerned about recruiting shortfalls and the potential loss of noncommissioned officers, which are very likely to adversely affect the Army's performance down the road.

Those who say the Army should not do peacekeeping in a reconstructed Iraq are wrong.

War termination is an important objective, and a favorable outcome in Iraq requires that the United States stay the course. Prospects for success are good. Even a pessimist, as long as he was objective, would have to concede that Iraq is by no means a quagmire. The situation in Iraq is progressing, despite setbacks.

But the health of the United States Army is in the balance. Today's force is overcommitted and the strains are beginning to show.

Not sure I agree that the guerillas in Iraq lack both outside support and a conventional force of some sort. Seems to me that Iran qualifies as the outside support, and the porous borders of postwar Iraq could lead to the organization of conventional forces.

Still, I agree with the overall premise. The forces are overcommitted.

Witness the news reports saying we are prepared to send Marines to Liberia. By definition and design, Marine forces are designed to be light, lethal and temporary. Marines don't plan to be anywhere longer than 30 to 60 days. Even their food rations reflect this truism.

Yet news reports say Marines will probably be the force to land in Liberia.

In my mind the message here is that (A) we don't plan to be there long (aka we are doing this for show) or (B) we don't have the forces needed to commit to the long term.

Just my opinion, but to me we have no compelling national interest to protect in Liberia. Yeah, they named their capital after President Monroe, but...well, so what?

And therefore, in my opinion we get into the business of "exemplary participation" meaning we send soldiers to areas of the world just as volunteers flock to Habitat for Humanity building sites.

I'm not criticizing Habitat for Humanity...I once was an officer in one of its chapters. But the point is I volunteered because I "wanted to help"

Clearly we do not have sufficient military forces to send them to places where it is nice to want to help...indeed it is not clear we have sufficient forces to involve ourselves seriously in places where we have a decided national interest..
The (German) chancellor sued when a news agency quoted an image consultant who suggested he was dyeing his hair to conceal grey.

With affidavits from his barber, Schroeder insisted that the article was false and that it had created a wave of stories that were hurting his image.

In April he won a court injunction preventing the DDP agency from repeating the story.

A month later an appeals court upheld an injunction that prohibits news organisations from even hinting that Schroeder's brown hair is anything other than natural.

Because as Chancellor Schroeder knows courts are for "the worst violations."

See it here.

(via NRO)
An Iraqi motorist flashes a thumbs up sign and a smile while displaying a photo of President Bush at the U.S. military police check point Monday July 7, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) (via National Review Online.)
A US official in charge of setting up Iraq's police is due to unveil later on Monday a reward scheme for information relating to the murder of coalition forces or Iraqi police officers.

Bernard Kerik, a former New York police chief, told the BBC that the minimum reward would be $2,500

Read about it here.
Burks wanted a challenge when he joined the Marines, but he never thought he'd be faced with the challenge of feeding thousands of starving Iraqis.

"There was days when we wouldn't even eat, and we would just give all our food up. It's something that I would never want to experience again. But we felt that was what we needed to do," said Burks...

While Burks is thankful to be back on leave, he's glad the Pentagon is thinking about sending in more troops.

"I wish I could go back over there right now. And it's hard for me to say that.

But with what's going on over there, I don't see how I can sit here and already come back when my brothers are still over there dying every day," said Burks.

Read his story here.
"This is a new sense of freedom for us. We are not in a very secure society yet, but at least we can say whatever we like," said Firas Behnam, 27, a worker at the former State Company for Internet Services center in the neighborhood of Adil.

Under Hussein, Iraqis could look at foreign news sites such as the BBC and CNN at least part of the time. "Sometimes it said access denied, sometimes not," Behnam said. "It depended on the news of the day, and how aggressive it was."

"Some Web sites are still closed, but if you let us know, we will reopen them," said Yaser Hassan, 30, the manager of the Adil center. "The users here want everything fast. They complain loudly when they see 'access denied,' even though they did not complain for 30 years."

They've learned to complain...

Read it all here.
The 3,700 soldiers of the 3rd Brigade are coming home.

The signs are everywhere.

Fort Benning's public affairs office says the brigade's arrival is imminent.

Family members convened Monday night to decorate the Kelly Hill gymnasium in a "Welcome Home" motif.

Col. Steve Salazar, the brigade's commander, says the "Sledgehammers" will be back as early as this week.

Most importantly, 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Buford Blount said Monday that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team will return to Fort Benning between Friday and July 18.

And they deserve it.

The only thing that concerns me is that I'm pretty sure this is the brigade that was improving security on the Baghdad Airport Road.

This is one of the so-called "carrot measures".
The rumble and roar of machinery quickly drew dozens of curious young children and their parents out into the street to see Army equipment piling tons of trash several feet high before loading it into dump trucks that left for a distant landfill. The trucks traveled to the landfill more than 100 times that day.

As the heavy equipment tore into the dirty, rancid field, a team of Army medics and a doctor applied a more personal touch inside a nearby clinic. A medical team temporarily converted a classroom of a nearby private girls' elementary school into a treatment room.

As soon as the doors to the temporary clinic opened, lines of women, many of them with their young children, formed outside. During the next day and a half Maj. David Harden, the dermatologist at Fort Riley, saw more than 200 patients.

Read it all here.
As for the strikes on Saddam and the bitter likelihood that he's still alive, perhaps we can draw this conclusion from the evidence of our eyes and critical capacities: America really isn't good at assassinations.

We were lousy at them in the 1950s and 1960s, especially when we went after Fidel Castro. In the past five years, using major weaponry rather than exploding cigars, we've proved incompetent in targeting Osama bin Laden and Saddam.

The United States can fight wars brilliantly. But our skills at the black arts of statecraft remain challenged - a tribute to this nation's humanity.

For one thing, we fear the harm that might be done to innocents who are unfortunate enough to share consanguinity with the evildoers. Bill Clinton couldn't get a "clean shot" at bin Laden after the failed cruise-missile attack in August 1998 because our intelligence could never locate him without women and children around. And Bush nearly didn't order the strike on Saddam because he didn't want the first pictures of the war to feature the tyrant's dead grandchildren.

Its a really good piece. Read the whole thing here.

Oh - and as for "consanguinity"...look it up. I had to.

We hear that a brigade of 3d ID has been relocated to make it safer.
Two U.S. soldiers were slightly wounded on Tuesday when an explosion damaged their Humvee vehicle on the outskirts of Baghdad, a U.S. military officer said.

An explosive device blew up as the Humvee drove on Highway Eight between Baghdad and the international airport at around 9.30 a.m., Major Ed Bohnemann told Reuters on the scene.

He described the injuries of the two soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division as light.

The Humvee had its trunk blackened and blown off.

U.S. convoys traveling on Highway Eight have come under attack several times since the toppling of President Saddam Hussein three months ago.

"We've actually found some (explosive devices) in the past couple of days and caught them before they blew up," Bohnemann said.

The whole story is here.

MORE ON THAT STORY plus news of another incident.

Reuters reporter Daniel Trotta, embedded with U.S. forces, said an anti-tank mine exploded under a Bradley fighting vehicle travelling in a convoy in the town of Khan Dhari, 30 km (20 miles) west of Baghdad, wounding the driver.

Trotta, who was with the convoy, said a Humvee military vehicle and a truck had apparently driven over the mine without triggering it.

''When the Bradley drove over it, it blew up, wounding the driver,'' Trotta said. ''The hull of the vehicle was split and the engine was spewing oil.''

The driver, Specialist Justine Howard from Georgia, was wounded in the back.

''I feel very lucky, scared too,'' Howard told Reuters as he was being taken in a Humvee to a medical facility.
Jonell Martinez and Jennifer King, leaders of the company's family readiness group, spent hours on the telephone Saturday after they learned who would be on the flight home. Their husbands - Sgt. 1st Class Varon Martinez and Sgt. Jeff King - will fly in later this week.

"Actually we prefer it this way," Martinez said, in between rushing this way and that to make sure every detail was covered before the soldiers arrived.

They got Domino's, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and Hooters to donate goodies for Monday's homecoming reception.

"We haven't slept in the last 36 hours," she said.

Sleep deprived family!
Floyd vividly remembers a conversation with an Iraqi medical student who was wounded in Baghdad and treated by Floyd´s unit. “He was driving with his uncle and cousin in Baghdad when one of our Bradleys (armored vehicles similar to a tank) shot up their vehicle, killing his relatives,” Floyd recalled. The student crawled from the car and eventually found help.

Floyd got to know the man during the week he received treatment and taught him how to play backgammon. Eventually, he asked the man for his honest opinion about the war.

“He told me that even though some innocent people are getting killed, that he was glad we were there — glad that we sent Saddam ´straight to hell,´ ” Floyd said.

Read the whole thing here.
Strock said several larger projects, including reconstruction of the country’s irrigation system and government buildings, will put thousands of people back to work.

“We’re going to have about 100,000 people at work over the next several months clearing about 5,500 kilometers of the irrigation system,” he said.

U.S. administrators may take a page from American history in rebuilding Iraq, Ponkratz said.

“We are discussing plans to form a civil service corps much like our nation experienced during our Depression in the 1930s,” he wrote. “We would essentially pay workers to form a military-like organization to complete national and local projects that would provide long-term benefit to the nation and their communities.”

It is encouraging to me personally to finally get some news about the plans and programs to rebuild. Seems these stories have been a long time coming...but in my mind indicate a nearing turning-point for their folks...and ours.

Read the whole story here.
If the latest attacks are designed to destroy the fragile trust between Iraqis and those who have come to help them, interviews with about a dozen Iraqis who work with Americans show that the tactic is not working. They say people harass them, accuse them of treason and send them death threats. But although they acknowledge the risk, none said they would quit.

"It will never stop me because I trust myself and I trust God. I want to help my country to make a new life, to get human rights, and also to get modern life, especially because we are a rich country," Mohyialdeen said. "Whenever I go out on patrol, I start praying."

Most of these workers said they would not stop working because they view the Americans as a positive force for Iraq. But there are corollary reasons as well, such as the fact that coalition forces provide the bulk of jobs in a country where jobs are scarce.

Read this rare bit of hopeful press here.
Insurgents fired mortar rounds at a U.S. supply base north of Baghdad, and American forces arrested at least 12 Iraqi suspects in a counterattack, the U.S. military said Tuesday. There were no reported casualties.

The mortar attack occurred late Monday night at a base near Balad, 55 miles north of the capital, said Spc. Nicole Thompson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military in Baghdad. She said U.S. forces subsequently caught 12 of the suspected attackers.

Meanwhile, witnesses said a U.S. military vehicle was attacked early Tuesday morning in Baghdad. U.S. military personnel surrounded the area, and an Associated Press photographer saw the charred spot of earth where the attack occurred. The U.S. military said it had no immediate information about the incident.

Whenever I see "supply base" I get a little concerned. But then I consider that if someone were to fire on CPT Patti's supply base they are also firing on the National Police College.

And as the police force rebuilds, let's hope that location has a deterrent effect.

Story here.

But although there is certainly reason for concern, it's important to put the attacks and the casualty rate in perspective, and not to fall prey to media-fanned hysteria about "another Vietnam."

First, there's the historical perspective: The last attack on Allied troops in occupied Germany took place in 1949, four years after the war's end.

Moreover, America is not facing a popular uprising in Iraq. If it were, then things would be much, much worse.

Then there's the geographical perspective: It's not as if the whole country is in flames. Almost all the problems are in Baghdad, the violence having shifted there from the Sunni triangle north and west of the capital.

Really good stuff. Read it all here.
Watch your back, watch where their hands go, don't trust them if they look nervous. Don't trust them if they won't look you in the eyes, if they approach you suddenly, or come up and talk to you just for a minute, counsels Specialist David Decker.

Keep your eyes on the rooftops, speeding cars, everyone in the crowd.

"Baghdad is a city where four million people love you and five percent wish you dead," Decker, from the Military Police, said on Monday after three soldiers were killed in less than 24 hours.

Sort of the flip-side of the Ba'ath Party...where 95% of the people wished they were dead.

TSA sends volunteer baggage/passenger screeners to Baghdad International Airport.
Six men and women left Saturday from Rochester to help secure what was once known as the Saddam International Airport.

The airport in Baghdad is not open yet, but the Defense Department wants to make sure flying out of Baghdad goes smoothly when it does open.

Story here.