Saturday, August 16, 2003


The apple of one man's eye goes to Iraq.
Their mission faced early turbulence. During a stop in the Azores Islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Katie mysteriously vanished. A navigator arriving on another plane found Katie in a hangar, folded and defaced with vulgar graffiti.

"Not a very auspicious beginning," Arnold conceded.

Cleaned up and straightened out, Katie made it to a number of countries in the Persian Gulf, where she was the centerpiece of hundreds of photographs. Wearing her Air Devil's Inn hat, she was perched on a dismembered tank turret, in the cockpit of a wrecked plane and in the hold of the C-130. She eventually tagged along on more than 20 combat missions, qualifying her for a ribbon, Williams said.

Among the photographs is one showing the beaming blonde model holding two cardboard beers in the doorway of an Iraqi airport, just below an image of Saddam Hussein that had been obscured by a circle and slash.

The cardboard cutout was signed by dozens of soldiers from around the world, including a group of Lithuanian troops, who wrote a paragraph along Katie's midriff.

"I have no idea what it says," Williams said.

For moms, dads, wives and husbands waiting, it's always scary and nothing returns to normal until their loved one is safe at home.

"The war is not over," Linda King, of Lower Salem, Fivecoait's mother, said."We still have moms and sons still apart."

While the rest of the nation deals with the biggest power blackout in U.S. history, a sluggish economy, West Nile virus, school openings, gas prices and a runaway computer worm, moms, like King, wait for sons and daughters to return from Iraq.

Remember Iraq?

It's been more than 100 days since President Bush declared an end to major combat in the Iraq war.

Communication is still difficult. Letters, a brief phone call, e-mail if they ever get a chance, are infrequent at best.

"When it really hit me is when I received a letter from Flint. We were having a garage sale. Somebody was mowing his lawn, others were playing in a local softball game," King said. "Many of our sons are being attacked every night. You feel guilty you are doing anything. They are fighting so we can do this."

Amid the daily distractions, families of American soldiers still serving in Iraq would simply like people not to forget.


Except Syria. Sand weasels that they are.
The UN Security Council has approved a resolution welcoming the emergence of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. Some Security Council members expressed regret that the resolution did not establish a timeline for ending the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. But a majority of members said the Governing Council marked a move in the right direction, toward restoring Iraqi sovereignty. The resolution also established a new UN mission in Iraq that is expected to gain a larger political role and potentially broaden contributions to Iraq's reconstruction.

United Nations, 15 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Iraq's month-old Governing Council has received a vote of confidence from the United Nations Security Council to help carry forward efforts toward building a sovereign government in Iraq.

Security Council Resolution 1500, which passed 14-0 yesterday, with one abstention, stopped short of recognizing the Governing Council as the legitimate representative of Iraq.


1st Infantry Division soldiers at Fort Riley train for their year-long mission.

Somehow it makes me feel a bit better to read about soldiers training to replace the soldiers there now.
Soldiers from a 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery platoon practiced Friday morning under 1st Division Road. As officers and reporters looked down from the overpass, a six-vehicle convoy crept around a curve. It stopped well short of the overpass, and soldiers jumped from their vehicles to look for anyone who might lie in ambush.

Minivans, cars and gravel trucks kept rumbling along the overpass. Trainers didn't stop them, because the soldiers will have to watch out for enemies amid the bustle of civilian life when they reach Iraq.

The soldiers quickly noticed Pvt. Matthew Witherspoon, who was loitering on the overpass. Witherspoon, dressed in a sweat suit, was playing the part of an Iraqi guerrilla. For all the platoon knew, he was simply a civilian.

"Remove your hands from your pockets," a soldier shouted as his colleagues trained rifles on Witherspoon from a distance.

"Huh?" Witherspoon replied, and the soldier repeated the command.

In an instant, Witherspoon pulled his hand free and hurled a dummy grenade. The soldiers, their rifles loaded with blanks, answered with a stream of gunfire until Witherspoon fell.

But the soldiers still couldn't assume they were safe. They moved slowly over and under the road with their rifles pointed in every direction until the convoy passed safely, 15 minutes after it had first stopped. Another soldier playing an enemy was hidden in nearby trees, but he never came out.

"They did everything right, so he ran away," Maj. Marty Leners said.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A power generator hummed in the corner of a popular Baghdad menswear shop where Leith Tamimi sat smirking Friday as he listened to news of the massive electrical blackout that plagued the northeastern United States for the second day.

"It's not in Iraqi nature to be happy when someone is suffering, but I thank God for allowing them to see how we live," Tamimi said. "I saw Americans on TV and they were enraged. If they were enraged after two days without power, how do they think we feel after four months?"

Iraqis, who have endured widespread power outages since the U.S.-led war ended in April, expressed little sympathy for the Americans who got a dose of life without lights or air conditioning -- or water, for some -- when a major electricity grid shut down Thursday afternoon.

Baghdad residents gloated over stories of New Yorkers stuck in subways and some seemed disappointed that power was restored Friday in large swaths of the affected area. Many Iraqis said they believed the blackout was a gift from God to show Americans the hardships of life without electricity and, they hoped, to speed up coalition efforts to bring electricity back to Iraq.

"Imagine how we've been waiting here for electricity," said Talib Alrubaiyi, a 54-year-old English teacher. "I don't want to hear about Americans complaining over two little days. Their power is back, but how long will we wait?"

Just baffles quickly people forget. For nearly 30 years they may have had electricity at their disposal, but they couldn't use it to watch anything on TV except shows about Saddam, couldn't use it to power the internet or satellite dishes because those were forbidden by the Butcher of Baghdad.
Working closely with Iraqis, the international Coalition Provisional Authority is focused on security, economic rebirth, strengthening basic services and the establishment of an independent, democratic government.

Stability is enhanced by the fact that nearly 200,000 former Iraqi soldiers and officers have been paid their monthly stipends. The economy is strengthened by the fact that banks are opening throughout the country and a new currency is being urgently prepared.

Step by step, Iraqis' lives are improving as transportation is restarted, university students finish their exams for the year, food distribution systems continue working and more than 150 newspapers compete in a new marketplace of ideas.

Cultural life is reawakening, too. Iraqi athletes, including the famous soccer players, are playing joyfully, without fear of torture. The Iraqi Olympic Committee, previously the bastion of Uday Hussein's brutality, is reconstituted with free Iraqis.

Baghdad's symphony and theaters are reopening. The international community is focused on rehabilitating the marshlands in southern Iraq, where the ancient civilization of Marsh Arabs was almost destroyed by former president Saddam Hussein. And thousands of treasures from Iraq's National Museum have been recovered.

So far, it seems to be working.

Although Iraqis who are seen collaborating with coalition forces are risking their lives, many are taking the chance if there is a payout.

For example, units are offering $100 for information on the location of a homemade explosive device. Attackers have planted bombs on the sides of roads and in the median, using remote detonators to set them off as American military convoys pass.

Someone who comes in with information on someone who has a large stock of weapons will get $200. Information leading to the capture of a person who planned to attack coalition forces will be awarded $500. That is more than what most Iraqis make in an entire year.

Of course, a tip that leads U.S. forces to Saddam will bring in a cool $25 million. The U.S. government has already paid the man who tipped coalition forces to the whereabouts of Saddam’s sons Odai and Qusai, who were killed by U.S. forces in a gunbattle July 22 in Mosul.

Military intelligence officers suspect that foreigners are in Iraq paying Iraqis anywhere from $50 to $500 to kill coalition forces. By offering cash for information, commanders are hoping to put those financing the attacks out of business. Essentially, they want to outbid the terrorists who are recruiting locals.

“We’re trying to counter that with the rewards for info,” Elsen said.

Money isn’t the only incentive to get Iraqis to cooperate.

A few soldiers have also found creative ways to get Iraqis to turn over weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Some troops have traded pistols and pinups of near-naked American models to get weapons.

August 16, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-35



Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division detained Said Ali Al Karim, a cleric in Ba’qubah Aug 11, pending charges of distributing materials to incite violence against Coalition forces, funding attacks against Coalition forces, and possession of illegal weapons.

Fourth Infantry Division soldiers conducted a raid on his home August 10. The Division conducted a previous raid on his home July 3. As a result of the information found during the second raid, Said Ali Al Karim was taken into custody.

Documents asking the Iraqi people to fight against U.S. forces and one letter supporting the September 11th attacks against the United States were retrieved from Said Ali Al Karim’s home. Additional documents found were checks to other suspected former regime loyalists, as well as a one billion Iraqi Dinar stock receipt from Saddam’s bank issued to an individual in the former regime.

In April 2003 he issued a Fatwa to wage a holy war against U.S. Forces. Karim is also suspected of placing a 50 million Iraqi Dinar bounty on a U.S. commander. Weapons seized during the raids included AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade equipment.

Said Ali Al Karim, known as “The Prophet,” is a former regime loyalist leader, a member of the former Ba’athist party and a counselor to Saddam Hussein.

Oh...and a real bastard too.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 16th. The 97th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Friday, August 15, 2003


I can't begin to tell you how bad this could get for her. In the first place, it isn't within her pay grade to determine whether there is a reason to be there.

Secondly, since she used her email privileges to send these messages to the TV station, she may wind up costing many soldiers email privileges - and that could really be bad for her as soldiers have ways of getting revenge.
Like other troops, Mary is sweltering in 120-degree heat, with no air conditioning, eating packaged meals for months and drinking only two bottles of water a day.

She's written us here at KIRO 7 Eyewitness News saying, "the military expects us to be happy out here. I'm very happy serving my country, but not when the government fails to take care of you."

"We volunteered our lives to be out here and we get treated worse that people in prison."

Private Yahne also writes, "There is no real reason for us to be out here!!!!, We're protecting the oil is all, and as far as the supposed war ending, it hasn't. Not when everyday soldiers are still getting mines placed in front of convoys. Rocket propelled grenades thrown at us."
The 82nd Airborne Division's equipment was on the move Thursday.

A convoy of vehicles was on Interstate 95 in the early afternoon, heading for South Carolina ports for shipment to Iraq.

The equipment is from the division headquarters, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and supporting units. The 507th Corps Support Group and other units of the 1st Corps Support Command are helping with the move.

The units from the 82nd will replace the 3rd Infantry Division, which will return to Fort Stewart, Ga.

The 82nd paratroopers are scheduled to begin deploying to Iraq in September. They are expected to stay in the country for about six months. With their arrival, two of the division's three brigades will be deployed in the effort to root out Saddam loyalists and rebuild Iraq.


But the details are fuzzy..."other compensation powers", "incentive and other measures".

Stay tuned...we'll try to follow this one all the way.
Undersecretary of Defense David Chu answered sharp criticism from Democratic presidential candidates over a press report that the Pentagon favored cutting the pay of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because it supported letting the special increases expire.

"No one ever said we wanted to reduce pay in Iraq and Afghanistan," Chu, who is in charge of military personnel and readiness, told reporters.

"We prefer other compensation powers to ensure that we target benefits on the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan," he added, citing incentive and other packages that the Pentagon is authorized to use...

But Chu and Defense Department spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the Pentagon planned all along to use incentive and other measures to keep paychecks in Afghanistan and Iraq at current levels, even if danger and family separation pay went down.

"There is no intention of allowing compensation for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to fall," Chu said.

"The premise that we would somehow disadvantage U.S. forces in combat is absurd," added Di Rita.

They said that the pay of troops serving in Kuwait near Iraq was also unlikely to change.

Meanwhile, a White House spokesman has this to say.

"We support extending the pay provisions," White House spokesman Jimmy Orr said late Thursday afternoon after a day in which Bush's political opponents bashed him for what they said was a callous attitude toward combat troops who are still suffering casualties.

"We intend to ensure they continue to receive this compensation at least at the current levels," the Defense Department said in a separate statement about members of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.

The issue stems from congressional action April when the House and Senate increased the imminent danger pay for the first time in more than a decade to $225 a month from $150. The family allowance was raised from $100 to $250 monthly.

However, the increases, which were retroactive to last October, are set to expire on Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, unless Congress and the president continue them.

Last month, the Pentagon sent Congress an interim budget report detailing requests for spending cuts. It said the Defense Department supported rolling back the increases, which it said would cost more than $25 million a month to continue. It said that in addition to supporting a pay rollback, Pentagon experts would launch a study of the entire issue of combat pay.


One Arab calls it like he sees it.
Ever since the latest phase of the Iraqi crisis started last autumn, most Arab countries have found themselves in a hole. What is surprising is that they to continue to dig, making the hole deeper.

The Arabs’ initial predicament was understandable. Until the last minute they did not believe that the US would invade. They hoped that the whole thing would blow over. One Arab leader described the crisis as “a summer storm.” At the end of January, Amr Moussa, the Arab League Secretary General, told me during a dinner in Davos that he was “absolutely sure” there would be no war. When asked why, he said, “Something will come up.”

Well, what came up was the US-led invasion. The Arabs had developed no policy to prevent it or, when it happened, to influence its course. More than three months after the fall of the Baathist regime, there has been no attempt at developing a common Arab analysis of the war and its aftermath. Instead, most Arab states have had recourse to their traditional methods of negation and dissimulation. They have refused to recognize the newly created Governing Council, and toyed with the idea of suspending Iraq’s membership of the Arab League. They have used the United Nations as a fig leaf to hide their lack of a policy on Iraq.

Asked by the US to allocate peacekeeping troops to Iraq, some have said yes, some have said perhaps, and some have made noises that mean neither yes nor no. The general mood is one of rejectionism, saying no because it is believed, wrongly, that Arabs like naysayers.

Please read it all. It is worth it.
A letter purportedly written by deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein called on Iraq's powerful Shi'ite Muslim clergy to call for a jihad (holy war) against U.S. occupation, Al Jazeera television reported on Wednesday.

''If the hawza (Shi'ite seminaries) calls for a jihad, this would unify the whole Iraqi people against the occupation,'' said the letter that the Arabic satellite channel said was written by Saddam in answer to questions sent to him.

The authenticity of the handwritten could not be immediately established. Al Jazeera showed footage of the letter without giving details of how it was obtained

I am not a journalist. But I see things happening under the guise of journalism today that give me pause.

Among these things is the willingness of journalists today to serve - wittingly or un - as the shills of evil.

Let me explain.

First, we begin with a premise: The rational world knows that Saddam Hussein was a tyrannical, murderous thug who murdered his way into power in Iraq. That he is gone is a good thing for the people of Iraq.

In this premise I do not require you to believe that current Iraq is necessarily a good thing...only that being rid of Saddam Hussein is a good thing.

OK - now. You are the Managing Editor at a news outlet. Someone knocks on the back door and a masked man delivers a package. He says "this is from Saddam Hussein".

Someone opens the package. It is a video tape...or perhaps a letter. The message is by now a familiar one - someone claiming to be Saddam exhorts Iraqis and other Arab "brothers" to rise up in jihad against the Americans.

What do you do? Do you publish it or not?

Is it news? Debatable. It is not as if this message was successfully delivered elsewhere by the purported Saddam. No public speech, no purchased TV time? In fact, nothing whatsoever that would be difficult for someone on the run.

All they did was to deliver the message to you. If you were not a news outlet, you would not have received this message.

Indeed, if the news outlet ceases to exist, so does the man who delivered it, and so does the video tape or letter itself.

In other words, this is only news if the news outlet exists to MAKE it news.

Which isn't the job of news outlets.

But, if you are the decision maker at Al Jazeera television, you publish this as if it were a story.

And you spread to the word that Saddam is calling for a jihad against the Americans.

And you give the entire text, laying out the author's reasoning.

Doubtful that you have verified the source. But you publish it anyway.

So you have to ask yourself...are we a news organization, or have we just become a mouthpiece, indeed the only possible mouthpiece by which Saddam, the tyrannical murderous thug can spread his message to millions of Iraqis and Arabs?

Or, put another way, if I don't publish this thing...Saddam cannot speak to the masses.

You publish it anyway?


This is among them.
The U.S. Army began training an Iraqi militia force on Friday to take on civil defense duties and pave the way for U.S. forces to leave Iraq.

Fifty young men hand-picked by tribal leaders started three weeks of intensive training at one of Saddam Hussein's main palaces in the northern town of Tikrit, which is now headquarters for the 4th Infantry Division.

Lt. Col. Steve Russell said similar training programs were expected to begin in other cities across Iraq shortly.

"Our goal is that you will take our place and take over the security of your own people," Russell told recruits and tribal leaders.

"We are training you to be the leaders of a larger force that we will be creating in the coming months," he said.

The militia will start off working with U.S. soldiers in joint patrols, but eventually will be responsible for defending key infrastructure and government buildings, Russell said.

The founding members of the new militia will be paid US$125 a month - more than twice the salary of former Iraqi soldiers - and are expected to commit to joining the civil defense force for a minimum of a year, Russell said.

It started as a somber, formal ceremony with security uppermost in everyone's mind. It ended with an American serviceman clasping hands with an Iraqi police academy graduate as they kicked up their heels, dancing to drums and bagpipes.

Apache helicopters circled above the Iraqi Public Service Academy Thursday as 145 Iraqi police officers graduated from a three-week training program for officers who served on the force when Saddam Hussein was in power...

Despite the 12,000 police already on the street in the capital, Baghdad citizens say they still feel unsafe going to work or going out to restaurants or the shops.

But Mohammed Naama, 38, one of the graduates, said that while the situation in Baghdad was still unsettled, it was improving.

``The people, they respect the police, and when they see us out in the street, it helps restore their confidence in the law,'' he said, after asking permission from his U.S. military supervisor to step away from the group of graduates to speak to a reporter.

For Abdel Aziz Khisro, Thursday was a double celebration. Only hours after his graduation, he was to be married. A Kurd, he said critics of the new system belonged to the old era. ``They're used to being oppressed and oppressing,'' he said, while watching Iraqi police link fingers with U.S. soldiers and dance in a circle.


And my guess is that someone's career just jumped the tracks.
Moving quickly to try to defuse anger that threatens to ignite riots in a Baghdad slum, U.S. military leaders admitted Thursday it was a mistake for troops to open fire on civilians who became hostile after a helicopter interrupted their religious gathering.
U.S. officials said the Wednesday shootings came after residents of the Shiite Muslim neighborhood threw stones and fired weapons, including a rocket-propelled grenade, at the helicopter because they believed it had knocked a religious banner off a communications tower. One person was killed and four injured.

The local U.S. commander expressed deep regret and vowed to scale back patrols and helicopter flights in Thawra, a poverty-stricken district of northeastern Baghdad, formerly known as Saddam City. Locals recently renamed it Sadr City in honor of a celebrated Shiite cleric.

The quick and unusual apology -- immediately dismissed by local clerics as inadequate -- comes as U.S. occupation leaders are grappling with rising Iraqi outrage over mounting civilian casualties at checkpoints and during raids.

The gesture also underscored the U.S. desire to maintain support among Shiite Muslims, 60 percent of Iraq's population and key to the nation's reconstruction.

"Our intent is not to alienate the Shia people," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. ground troops in Iraq, said at a briefing in Baghdad on Thursday.

Accounts of what happened differ. Witnesses alleged that soldiers in the helicopter deliberately tried to remove the banner, but Sanchez said it appeared to be an accident. In the ensuing fire, local clerics said, a 10-year-old boy was killed. Sanchez said Thursday that troops killed the individual who launched the RPG, but clerics, who have video footage of the incident, insist that no such weapon was used.

In his letter of apology to the clerics, Lt. Col. Christopher K. Hoffman, commander of the 2nd Squadron of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, said: "We deeply regret what has happened today. What occurred was a mistake and was not directed against the people of Sadr City. I am personally investigating this incident and will punish those that are responsible." The letter was dated Wednesday, and offered compensation and medical treatment to those injured.

A second message of apology was sent late Thursday, clerics said, offering to pull troops back "for the time being."

But the religious leaders rejected both overtures, demanding an immediate and permanent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Sadr City, an apology from a higher-ranking officer and compensation to victims in accordance with Islamic law.

In Baghdad, peak temperatures have exceeded 115 degrees for 10 of the past 11 days. “It’s like standing in a blow dryer,” Sgt. David Harris of the 1st Armored Division said between sips from a water bottle as he guarded the Health Ministry.

The relentless heat has become more than a nuisance to the tens of thousands of U.S. troops posted in Iraq. Of the 79 Americans who have died in Iraq of causes unrelated to combat since May 1, at least two — and perhaps as many as five — have succumbed to the heat, according to defense officials.

The most recent such incident occurred Tuesday, when a soldier with the 4th Infantry Division died in his sleep from what commanders described as heat stress, which has been defined as a condition in which the total net heat load on the body from internal heat production and external sources exceeds the body’s capacity to cool itself...

Maj. Michael Pelzner, the senior physician with the 501st Forward Support Battalion, counsels soldiers and commanders on preventing injuries from the heat, as well as from hostile fire.

“It’s something everybody needs to have in the back of their mind,” said Pelzner, who runs a one-room trauma clinic at the site of the former Iraqi police academy. “It has to be part of the mission.”

Pelzner said soldiers are often so focused on their duties that they pay little or no attention to their health. “Often the young guys are so gung ho, they want to complete the mission, they often don’t take the time to drink water,” he said.

Then again, the heat was the main topic of conversation at Mule Skinner Base, where soldiers of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment stood guard at a former military college.

Sgt. Scott Anderson, 42, of Fort Collins, Colo., whipped open his flak jacket and fatigues to show a soaked undershirt. Four months ago, before his stint in Iraq, he weighed 185 pounds. He said he now checks in at 170.

“You always look like you’ve come out of the pool,” he said.
August 14, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-34



BAGHDAD, Iraq-Iraqi citizens continue to cooperate with Coalition forces, preventing attacks and breaking up a counterfeit operation.

Local citizens prevented two possible attacks by informing 1st Armored Division soldiers of the location of improvised explosive devices. In the first incident, a taxi driver reported the location of a possible IED to soldiers on patrol. An explosive ordnance team determined the IED was a 155 mm shell with a circuit board and wires. The EOD team disabled the device. The other IED location tip came from a walk in source. Upon arrival, the unit found a 105 mm round with wiring set to detonate in a white bag with two rocket-propelled grenade rounds beside it.

The 1st AD, acting on a tip from a local source regarding a possible counterfeit money operation raided a house in Baghdad on Aug 12. In the raid, 1st AD confiscated millions of uncut counterfeit Dinar, pictures of Saddam, copiers, computers and various weapons. In another house search, 1st AD seized more than 4 million Iraqi Dinar; an assortment of weapons and more than 500 hundred rounds of small arms ammunition.

In other operations, the 4th Infantry Division and elements from their task force, detained four suspected former regime loyalists, in a raid conducted near Tikrit on Aug. 12. In other operations, 4th ID detained four additional individuals. Confiscated weapons include 98 rocket-propelled grenades rounds, 33 rounds of 82 mm mortars, 12 AK-47s, one 60 mm mortar tube, 43 rounds of 60 mm mortar. Additionally, 4.6 million Iraqi Dinar and military uniforms and helmets were confiscated.

In the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force area of operation, Iraqi police turned in two SA-7 missiles, six anti-tank rockets, four 82 mm mortar tubes and two cans of .50 caliber ammunition they discovered in a warehouse in Al Hillah. In another weapons find, a local source turned in more than 50 rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

In the past 24 hours, coalition forces conducted 13 raids, 843 day patrols and 639 night patrols. The units also conducted 143 day patrols and 100 night patrols with Iraqi police.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15th. The 96th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

They are mid-way through the so-called "furnace days" that run from 15 July to 15 September.

C'mon Autumn!

Thursday, August 14, 2003

IRAQ returned to the international footballing (Soccer) fold in spectacular fashion last night, beating neighbours Iran in Tehran by a solitary goal.
The U.S. administration in Iraq said corporate and private donors in the United States are sending more than 50,000 soccer balls to Iraqi children.

The first shipment of soccer balls arrived in Iraq this week. They will be distributed through the coalition forces in several Iraqi cities.

Initially, organizers hoped to collect 10,000 soccer balls to send to Iraqi children - who are obsessed with the sport. But the response of donors has far exceeded expectations and some 54,000 balls have been donated.

Ammar Showkat, the Iraqi Interim Deputy Director of Youth, said the gift is a wonderful gesture that will help rebuild Iraq's youth sports program.

The company had to work from scratch compiling school records as the education ministry was gutted and looted during the conflict and computer systems destroyed.

Three months later, the company has finished an inventory of more than 3,785 secondary schools across Iraq, excluding two areas which remained too dangerous. Japanese teams are focusing on elementary schools.

The inventory found schools in ''various states of disrepair,'' suffering from Saddam's neglect and some damage from the U.S.-led invasion and the mass looting that followed.

Girls accounted for just 38.4 percent of the student population and Creative hopes to boost enrollment with an accelerated learning program targeting girls in particular.

The inventory showed many schools, for example, lacked basic bathroom facilities. ''You can't expect young girls to go to school if you don't address that issue,'' said Bolivian-born Kruvant, who founded Creative in 1977.


The company hopes to have all schools open by October and has bought 1.2 million ''back to school'' kits for the start of the new school year. Finding secure warehouses to store goods has been a headache.

Winning the trust of Iraqis, many of whom are suspicious of the U.S. invasion, is also a challenge. Handing out small grants to rebuild schools paid dividends in getting Iraqi support.

''These grants might appear very small, but $20,000 in a community that has been neglected for so long, brings the local leadership together,'' said Kruvant. More than 200 grants worth over $4 million will have been approved by the end of August.

Creative has distanced itself from the sensitive task of ''revising'' school textbooks and stripping them of Baathist language. That job went to U.N. agencies, who while removing pro-Saddam language are leaving a major rewrite of books to a new Iraqi education department.

The company says it will have enough teachers in place for October and is relieved it did not have to weed out hard-line Baathists. ''The local community has dealt with this and driven them out,'' said Dick McCall, director of Creative's Communities in Transition Division.

Like Saddam Hussein, Yanar Mohammed tries not to sleep every night in the same place.

"For a different cause," she notes dryly, in the run-down barebones office she borrows from the Worker's Communist Party of Iraq.

Yanar, 42, left the safety and comfort of her life as an architect, wife and mother in Toronto to return to Baghdad to fight for Iraqi women's rights.

This is not an equal pay for equal work debate, or a campaign for a child-care subsidy. Her platform is elemental: Women must not be abducted, sold and raped. Those that eventually return to their families must not be murdered to restore the family's honor. Women must not be forced to wear an opaque veil over their faces and bodies...

Yanar is Norma Rae -- tiny -- just 5 feet, with thick black hair pulled into a ponytail and a snug denim shirt and khakis -- and cut from the same revolutionary cloth. She is the founder of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, a Baghdad-based follow up to the Defense of Iraqi Women's Rights organization she headed in Canada.

The dingy walls around her are roughly whitewashed. Mismatched chairs pulled to a single desk comprise her office and conference room.

It's a marked change from her life three months ago. When she left Canada with her husband, she was leading a design team to build a 50-story condominium in downtown Toronto for Burka Varacalli Architects.

Having lived through the 1991 war, she was an outspoken critic of the most recent one.

"Thank god Saddam was a paper puppet and not the power he was made out to be," she said, noting the low casualties in the city this time around.

Although she left a teenage son behind in Toronto parentless, she feels she is needed more here.

Up through the 1980s, women in Iraq, and especially the relatively cosmopolitan capital Baghdad, were free to wear what they chose and to work for themselves. Yanar earned both her bachelor's and master's degree from Baghdad University. She fled Iraq in 1993 and by 1995 had earned enough money in Lebanon to immigrate to Canada.

But in the years following the 1991 Persian Gulf War, there was a change in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, an avowedly secular leader who regularly persecuted the religious and assassinated influential ayatollahs, sensed his days were numbered. To maintain his hold in Iraq in the face of what was considered an inevitable second war with the United States, Saddam found religion. He built mosques. He touted his direct genetic link to the prophet Mohammed. And he rolled back women's rights to mollify the traditional Islamic tribes.

Three years ago, in a display of "piety," Saddam's henchmen organized the slaughter of 200 alleged prostitutes around the country. They were beheaded, stripped naked and hung upside down or tossed in front of their houses with signs that said, "The evil is out of society."

Yanar is afraid the same thing is happening again. She unfolds a handwritten note that has just been brought from her supporters in Basrah, the oil city deep in southern Iraq. Armed men went in to a house and shot four prostitutes on August 6, the note reads.

"Umm Alla was shot walking with her children on the street," she says. Umm Alla means "mother of Alla," a girl's name. It is customary to refer to women as the mother of their children rather than by name.

"This is human life and we need to defend it," she says, helpless to do anything but. "I see women abused and killed every day. It is not something to turn your back to."

Iraq began pumping crude oil from its northern oil fields Wednesday for the first time since the U.S.-led war - a milestone in the restoration of the country's oil production that augurs well for thirsty world markets.
Several hundred people calling themselves human shields camped at oil refineries, water treatment plants, electricity generating stations and similar sites during the war. Many were from Europe; about 20 were American. Several people involved in the effort said that none of the sites were attacked while human shields were present.

"That tells me we were successful," said Judith Karpova, a 58-year-old writer in Hoboken, N.J., who placed herself at an oil refinery near Baghdad. "We went there to protect innocent civilians, and I went there to protect my own country against further crimes against humanity and war crimes."

"That tell's me we were successful"???? What it tells me is you are an idiot.

Throughout the buildup and throughout the war the USA made it very clear that this was not to be a war against the Iraqi people....and it was WIDELY reported during the war that a stark difference betweeen this war and Gulf War I is that "the lights are still on in Baghdad".

Indeed, that was the point...we aren't here to punish the innocent Iraqi people.

How many times did GEN Franks make just that point on TV? Rumsfeld? Meyers?

The US military went to great pains to preserve the infrastructure that would help rebuild the peace after the war was over. Key among those pieces of infrastructure are oil refineries, water treatment plants, and electricity generating stations.

The fact these loonies are alive today is proves they haven't a clue about how the US fights wars these days. In WWII everyone of these idiots would be dead. Today, they are alive because we choose targets based on their military worth first.

Oh, and we don't avoid targets because some free-lance writer from Hoboken sits her ignorant ass in front of it. Hate to burst her bubble, but we don't care, and in most cases probably never knew she was there.

However, had she chosen to sit by an anti-aircraft missile site, or an FM communications node, she would be "the late free-lance writer from Hoboken".


Every soldier to lose $75 dollars per month in Imminent Danger Pay, married soldiers to lose additional $150 per month in Family Separation Pay.
The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120-degree-plus heat.

Unless Congress and President Bush take quick action when Congress returns after Labor Day, the uniformed Americans in Iraq and the 9,000 in Afghanistan will lose a pay increase approved last April of $75 a month in "imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances."

The Defense Department supports the cuts, saying its budget can't sustain the higher payments amid a host of other priorities. But the proposed cuts have stirred anger among military families and veterans' groups and even prompted an editorial attack in the Army Times, a weekly newspaper for military personnel and their families that is seldom so outspoken.

Congress made the April pay increases retroactive to Oct. 1, 2002, but they are set to expire when the federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30 unless Congress votes to keep them as part of its annual defense appropriations legislation.

Imminent danger pay, given to Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force members in combat zones, was raised to $225 from $150 a month. The family separation allowance, which goes to help military families pay rent, child care or other expenses while soldiers are away, was raised from $100 a month to $250.

Last month, the Pentagon sent Congress an interim budget report saying the extra $225 monthly for the two pay categories was costing about $25 million more a month, or $300 million for a full year. In its "appeals package" laying out its requests for cuts in pending congressional spending legislation, Pentagon officials recommended returning to the old, lower rates of special pay and said military experts would study the question of combat pay in coming months...

It's rare for the independent Army Times, which is distributed widely among Army personnel, to blast the Pentagon, the White House and the Congress. But in this instance, the paper has said in recent editorials that Congress was wrong to make the pay raises temporary, and the Pentagon is wrong to call for a rollback.

"The bottom line: If the Bush administration felt in April that conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan warranted increases in danger pay and family separation allowances, it cannot plausibly argue that the higher rates are not still warranted today," the paper said in an editorial in its current edition.

On Capitol Hill, members say the issue will be taken up quickly after the summer recess when a conference committee meets to negotiate conflicting versions of the $369 billion defense appropriations bill.

"You can't put a price tag on their service and sacrifice, but one of the priorities of this bill has got to be ensuring our servicemen and women in imminent danger are compensated for it," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

"Since President Bush declared 'mission accomplished' on May 1, 126 American soldiers have died in Iraq, and we are losing more every day," Tauscher said. "If that's not imminent danger, I don't know what is."

Read the whole story here.
As the smoke was billowing Tuesday from a fire at a pipeline near Baghdad, oil analysts were focusing on restoring security to ensure a steady growth in Iraq's severely disrupted energy production. The Tuesday fire was the fifth major incident since May.

Sabotage and fires are derailing the flow of Iraqi oil to global energy markets. The attacks on pipelines and power stations are aimed at impoverishing Iraqis and making their lives miserable. Those who do it follow the old Leninist adage, "the worse, the better."

Saddam's loyalists and foreign jihadis who come to Baghdad to fight the infidels believe that by escalating Iraqis' suffering they will drive the Americans out of Iraq and across the ocean.

Lack of security and the rickety infrastructure are among the factors which slow down the process of post-war reconstruction and contribute to Iraqis' misery.

At the offices of "Habaz Booz" the printing presses are churning out the latest issue of Baghdad's only satirical magazine.

Under the former regime, the editor, Ishtar el Yassiri, would never have been allowed to print the publication.

"It is slightly strange for me, of course. I am writing freely. I am not used to this. Everyone is writing what they want. It's good."

She is right when she says "everyone" is writing. Baghdad used to have 15 different newspapers.

Now by all estimates it is well over 100.

And they look a lot different these days.

In the past the party controlled everything. Saddam Hussein's picture had to be on every front page.
Now there are images of American troops on the streets of Baghdad. How times have changed.

Out on the street, in the baking sun, Julie Khan is trying to sell subscriptions for her newspaper.

Even Julie, who left northern England and moved to Iraq 10 years ago, is finding it all a bit bewildering.

"This sudden new found freedom is something a bit hard to come to terms with. The idea of democracy is also something very difficult for us as a community to come to terms with."

Almost every sector of society now seems to have a voice.

That, though, comes with a price. Some see freedom as a chance to print anything.

There was for instance the recent report on the sunglasses US soldiers use to see through women's clothing!

Responsible journalists

But other reports are more dangerous.

The al-Mustiqilla newspaper went further, publishing an article calling for all those who collaborate with the US to be killed.

The Coalition Provisional Authority which runs Iraq shut it down.

Not censorship, says their chief spokesman, Charles Heatley.

"When there are clearly incitements we do have words with those concerned.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has given seven foreign airlines permission to fly into the southern city of Basra once that airport reopens, the New York Times reported.

The seven airlines are Emirates, Royal Jordanian, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, and British Airways. All airlines, except British Airways (BA), will start flights to the airport when it opens. BA will not start the service immediately.
FedEx has begun parcel service to Iraq for the first time.

The Memphis-based package delivery service is using its Middle East partner, Falcon Express.

Falcon began pickups and deliveries for business customers in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul last week, but waited until Monday to announce the new service.

The service is using local employees wearing FedEx uniforms.

Falcon Express is based in the United Arab Emirates.

Falcon also picks up and delivers for FedEx in Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria and Yemen.

Making progress.
Crucial to the rebuilding of the police is an ongoing assessment of how to instill democratic values here.

"If you took the capability of training right now, it would take you 5.9 years (to train police officers), we don't have 5.9 years ... We have to come up with a mechanism to train 31,000 people over the next two years."

He is also trying to root out corruption in a climate, where before, police officers would charge five dollars for taking a basic complaint from a citizen. Kerik said he saw officers still doing this in June as basic policy and he quickly reprimanded them.

"I said, look no one is going to charge anyone money to take a police report. You are serving the public ... You are going to take the complaint, and they are not going to pay you to do it. It's part of your job. That's the kind of stuff we have to deal with."

But Kerik credits the new police for starting to crackdown on corruption. He cited officers who arrested two of their comrades, who were spotted shoving money down their pants, during a raid a few weeks ago on a former Saddam bodyguard.

Kerik also denies the crime issue is as out of control as it sometimes appears.

"I think it's a perception versus reality issue and here's why. Prior to April 9, when we took Baghdad, prior to the war, the only thing anybody saw in this country is what Saddam wanted you to see." Kerik says.

Kerik says he hopes to set up a statistics program, within six to eight weeks, to gauge crime in Iraq. A similar syste used in New York City, called COMSTAT, led to a dramatic reduction in crime in the 1990s.


Good news along the shopkeepers front.
BAGHDAD, Iraq — These are bittersweet times for shopkeeper Mohammed Kassim.

The owner of Hazan CD Center, a movie and music shop in Baghdad's Karada shopping district, knows that Iraq's economy is reeling from unemployment, rampant crime and the collapse of many government-owned companies.

But down here on the lower rungs of Iraq's economic ladder, business is booming.

Sales of CDs and DVDs at Kassim's small shop are up 75 percent compared with last year.

Temporarily free from taxes, import tariffs and government regulations on what and how they sell, small-business owners like Kassim report that they are enjoying the fruits of a free-market economy. Although overall reform of Iraq's previous centrally planned system will be difficult, economists and bankers say the postwar surge in small merchants' sales bodes well for Iraq's long-term prospects.

Under the old regime, Kassim said, he paid a $5,000 annual business license tax plus a monthly government "street sanitation" fee (though he never saw any cleaning). Worst of all, Kassim endured daily visits from Ministry of Information officials who perused his selections to ensure that they didn't include racy Western movies or Shiite-themed music, which were illegal.

"I was quite afraid," said Kassim. "Now we can offer much more, and so people buy more."

See this story, and a few other short stories here.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any hotter in Iraq, welcome to Ab al-ahab el limor al bismar al hab, or the “August days that are so boiling, the pins melt out of the doorframe.” Friday’s peak temperature in Baghdad was over 135 degrees Fahrenheit, with some soldiers reporting temperatures of 148 degrees in the full sun.

And in the un-air-conditioned warehouse that passes for sleeping quarters for the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the low temperature Thursday night was 120 degrees, according to 1st Lt. Jason Tolbert, a Woodville, Texas, native who is with the squadron.

After Aug. 15, “it starts getting cooler,” one Iraqi said. How much cooler? “More like 115 or 120 degrees.”


I've never heard of anything like this...good for them.
Long after the rest of the newly formed unit won the war and came home, the “Ninja Squirrels” still are baking in the Iraqi desert. Dismayed to learn the soldiers’ commanders planned to keep the platoon past one year — some as long as 16 months — in the interest of unit cohesion, their wives got busy writing letters and buttonholing generals.

“We’ve already done one set of holidays alone, and now we [were] looking at another,” said Colleen Carroll, whose husband, Capt. Mike Carroll, is the 5/158th Aviation’s personnel officer. “It’s a bizarre situation. I don’t know how it happened.”

Their lobbying has apparently paid off.

After two months of being told their husbands would spend a second winter in the Middle East, the wives found out Sunday that the unit has agreed to send the “Ninja Squirrels” home in October.

“We fully expect that these guys will come home after one year,” said Col. Roger King, U.S. Army Europe spokesman. “We’re going to stick to it in every case possible.”

King said his command wasn’t aware of plans to keep the “Ninja Squirrels” downrange so long until he received a query from Stars and Stripes last week. The query followed USAREUR commander Gen. B.B. Bell’s Aug. 4 memo stating V Corps units and troops would not have to stay in the Middle East past one year.

“This thing is being discussed at a lot of different levels,” King said. “This is all evolving as we go. We haven’t been in a situation quite like this before.”

Five minutes hardly seemed like enough time to get past the pleasantries and the awe of seeing their partner seated before them.

“I don’t know what to say,” Verena Klein said as she wiped away a tear during a video teleconferencing hookup between Hanau and Baghdad, Iraq.

“Me neither,” Spc. Jacob Baker said to his girlfriend. “Let me just look at you for a second.”

“I can’t believe you are so far away,” Klein said several silent seconds later.

Technology can be a wonderful thing, especially recent developments in the video realm that allow people at different locations to see and hear each other via a live camera. During the war, commanders used the technology to plot strategy. Now they are employing the same gizmo to give couples another way to stay connected and boost morale.

Some spouses say these video visits can be awkward, given the sometimes sterile and shaky feed. But they also said the chance to see their favorite soldier in living color is just too precious to pass up.

I had a five-minute Video-Teleconference (VTC) with CPT Patti on Monday. I didn't mention it here because after it was all done...well, I wasn't sure what to say.

I hope you've read the whole article. The article gives one the sense that while it is wonderful to see your loved-one's face, it does leave you somewhat hollow.

I think the idea that being able to see her but not being able to hold her is inherently unsatisfactory.

Plus, there is a delay of perhaps 6 to 8 seconds between the time one finishes speaking and hears the other begin to reply. So it is choppy and frustrating. Not an efficient means of communications for sure.

And five-minutes - hardly time to say a decent hello, much less any conversation and certainly not enough time to adequately say good-bye again.

But the thing that can't be replaced is her face looking back.

That much is priceless.
In April, Jenessa, of White Bear Lake, Minn., made herself a bracelet in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Mike Chamorro, serving in Kirkuk. Her friends liked the idea and also had relatives deployed — an uncle here, a cousin there. So she made more bracelets.

The project “erupted like a volcano,” Jenessa said, and she’s sent out 36,987 bracelets. Her e-mail is jammed with orders for 20,000 more, many from troops serving in Iraq.

“Wow. That’s a lot. Let’s see, I started this in April and it’s taken me, April, May, June, July — 4½ months to make 36,000. It’s hard to say how long it’ll take to make 20,000 more, but we’re working hard.”

She has spent her summer vacation twisting and tying, beading and baking, folding and fretting — and sweet-talking her parents, two older brothers, one older sister and anyone else she can into helping out.

“She’s become our hero,” said mom Jennifer Largent. “It started out so small and we thought what a wonderful idea that she wanted to help a few kids and families. The longer it’s gone on, the bigger it’s gotten and she’s become more of a hero, and not just to us.”


BAGHDAD, Iraq — It’s after midnight and many of the soldiers Velcro-wrapped in their bulky body armor are already dripping with sweat.

Rolling in Humvees with lights dimmed, they travel to the next house, smash open the door and yank an Iraqi doctor in his underwear out of bed.

They also bring out his two brothers and their sons.

The soldiers think the doctor is one of three men financing attacks against American troops. His name is similar to what an informant gave them. But the troops know they can never be sure on these smash-and-grab raids.

“Some of the names are misspelled in a lot of the translations that we get,” Cpl. James Westerfield said. “And you have to really verify once you get an ID to match it exactly to the person it is.”

Hours later, after some questioning, they let him go. They got the wrong guy.

August 13, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-30



MOSUL, Iraq – A soldier from the 101st Airborne Division was killed and a civilian interpreter was injured August 12 when their vehicle was hit by a taxi.

The soldier was evacuated to a nearby medical facility.

The interpreter was evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital.

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

August 13, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-32



BAGHDAD, Iraq – One 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed and two were wounded at approximately 6:15 p.m. Aug. 12 when their convoy was attacked by an improvised explosive device in the vicinity of Al Taji.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated to a nearby medical facility.

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

August 13, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-33



TIKRIT, Iraq – One 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed and one wounded when the M-113 armored personnel carrier they were riding in struck an explosive device near the town of Ad Dwar at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 13.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital. One soldier died of wounds received.

The soldiers’ names are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 14th. The 95th Day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Sanchez also spoke of a proposal to give soldiers a "mid-tour break" to see their families.

"The intent would be that between your fifth and 10th month of deployment you'd get 14 days of leave and be able to go home," Sanchez said, adding that he hoped the plan would be approved "within a couple of weeks."

In Baghdad, some soldiers said life was slowly getting better. Sgt. 1st Class Charles Ragsdale, 34, of Atlanta, was guarding the Baghdad International Airport, which he said was becoming more livable.

"The Army is doing a lot of things every day, every week, to improve the morale of the soldiers out here," he said. "They're trying to get air conditioning. ... The chow's getting better. There's TV and movies. They're doing the best they can."

US troops arrested a high ranking Iraqi officer who once served as a chief of staff of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, the military said today.

Thirteen other men, including a Saddam bodyguard, were also taken into custody during the raid on the outskirts of Tikrit, the former dictator’s home town.

All were members of a family that served as a pillar of support for Saddam’s regime, said US Lt Col Steve Russell. He declined to name the detainees.

“They were trying to support the remnants of the former regime by organising attacks, through funding and by trying to hide former regime members,” he said.

Its the whole thing here.
I tagged along the other day with Bernard Kerik, the dynamo former New York City police chief who is in Baghdad retraining the Iraqi cops. We sat in on a class where a U.S. police trainer and his translator were going through the basics of how to start an interrogation. The Iraqi policemen, who four months ago thought removing a suspect's fingernails was how to start an interrogation, dutifully took notes in their U.S.-provided notebooks.

What struck me most, though, was the new "mission statement" for the Iraqi police, posted next to the blackboard in English and Arabic. It said: "We the Iraqi Police Force protect human rights and uphold our laws by serving our citizens and community for the unity and freedom of Iraq."

That statement exemplifies just how radical and revolutionary the U.S. nation-building project in Iraq is. Half the words in that statement were meaningless here four months ago. Human rights? Laws? Citizens? They still have no meaning, but the intent to endow them with some is what is radically new. For 50 years, Iraq, and the Arab world generally, has seen only the status quo side of U.S. power: American power used to buttress the old authoritarian order. Iraqis and other Arabs are now being treated to something radically new: our ideas, the revolutionary side of American power. They still don't quite believe it.
US soldiers on duty in Baghdad have been feeling the heat in the past few days quite literally.

Baghdad has been one of the hottest cities in the world over the past few days. Temperatures have reached at least 50 degrees Celsius [122 degrees Farenheit] and the fact that American soldiers have to work in heavy jackets and patrol the streets of Baghdad in armored tanks isn't making it easy for them.

Iraqi citizens have had to keep cool by swimming in the Tigris river. It's normally considered too dirty to swim in but the heat hasn't left them too much of a choice.

The Herald Tribune found two reasonable clerics in Iraq. Wish them well.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have no idea whether these are the only two liberal Shiite clerics in Iraq. People tell me they definitely are not. Either way, their willingness to express their ideas publicly is hugely important. It is, for my money, the most important reason we fought this war: If the West is going to avoid a war of armies with Islam, there has to be a war of ideas within Islam. The progressives have to take on both the religious totalitarians, like Osama bin Laden, and the secular totalitarians who exploit Islam as a cover, like Saddam Hussein. We cannot defeat their extremists, only they can. This war of ideas needs two things: a secure space for people to tell the truth and people with the courage to tell it. That's what these two young clerics represent, at least in potential.

Jamaleddine, age 42, grew up in Iraq, sought exile in Iran after one of Saddam's anti-Shiite crackdowns, tasted the harshness of the Iranian Islamic revolution firsthand, moved to Dubai, and then returned to Iraq as soon as Saddam fell. Here is a brief sampler of what he has been advocating:

On religion and state: "We want a secular constitution. That is the most important point. If we write a secular constitution and separate religion from state, that would be the end of despotism and it would liberate religion as well as the human being. … The Islamic religion has been hijacked for 14 centuries by the hands of the state. The state dominated religion, not the other way around. It used religion for its own ends. Tyrants ruled this nation for 14 centuries and they covered their tyranny with the cloak of religion. …

"Secularism is not blasphemy. I am a Muslim. I am devoted to my religion. I want to get it back from the state and that is why I want a secular state. … When young people come to religion, not because the state orders them to but because they feel it themselves in their hearts, it actually increases religious devotion. … The problem of the Middle East cannot be solved unless all the states in the area become secular. … I call for opening the door for Ijtihad /[reinterpretation of the Quran in light of changing circumstances/]. The Quran is a book to be interpreted /[by/] each age. Each epoch should not be tied to interpretations from 1,000 years ago. We should be open to interpretations based on new and changing times."

How will he deal with opposition to such ideas from Iraq's neighbors?

"The neighboring countries are all tyrannical countries and they are wary of a modern, liberal Iraq. … That is why they work to foil the U.S. presence. … If the U.S. wants to help Iraqis, it must help them the way it helped Germany and Japan, because to help Iraq is really to help 1.3 billion Muslims. Iraq will teach these values to the entire Islamic world. Because Iraq has both Sunnis and Shiites, and it has Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. … If it succeeds here it can succeed elsewhere.

But to succeed you also need to satisfy people's basic needs: jobs and electricity. If people are hungry, they will be easily recruited by the extremists. If they are well fed and employed, they will be receptive to good ideas. … The failure of this experiment in Iraq would mean success for all despots in the Arab and Islamic world. /[That is why/] this is a challenge that America must accept and take all the way."

You really ought to read the whole thing here.

If you read this site frequently you know that I am an optimist about what we are doing in Iraq.

But I can't help but note that discussions of how the Iraqis "should" feel just aren't going cut it.

As COL Tucker told us back in July, the Iraqis respect action.

I'd suggest the Provisional Authority figure that out.
Iraqis should measure their progress by the freedoms they enjoy, not the services they don't have, the top U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq said Tuesday.

L. Paul Bremer told a news conference that while Iraqis complain of unsafe streets and shortages of power, they must also realize that the fall of Saddam Hussein has made their lives better.

''Freedom matters,'' Bremer said. ''I think it's important to ... look beyond the shootouts and blackouts and remind ourselves of a range of rights that Iraqis enjoy today because of the coalition's military victory.''

Iraqi frustration over power outages and fuel shortages has boiled over in recent days. Summer temperatures creeping above 120 have exacerbated the problems.


This one one the outcome of the investigation into the Palestine Hotel incident during the war in which a journalist was killed.

Reminds us that, well, it was a war zone and the enemy had chosen to conduct combat activities from civilian areas in Baghdad.

This ain't a video game folks, and a press pass doesn't make you bulletproof.
August 12, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-29



MACDILL AFB, Tampa: The investigation of the incident at the Palestine Hotel, Baghdad, Iraq on April 8th, 2003 is complete. The investigation was directed by the Land Component Commander, U.S. Central Command, and concludes that a tank from A Company, 4-64 Armor properly fired upon a suspected enemy hunter/killer team in a proportionate and justifiably measured response. The action was fully in accordance with the Rules of Engagement.

The following summary provides background and details of the event.

By 7 April, Coalition forces had begun to encircle Baghdad and had initiated thrusts into the city. On 8 April, Coalition forces were pushing into Baghdad and being met with fierce enemy resistance. The enemy was operating throughout the civilian areas of the city, firing a
spectrum of weapons at Coalition forces from the roofs and windows of surrounding buildings. The enemy was fighting without any regard to civilians or civilian structures. Coalition forces continued to fight their way toward the Tigris River, just across from the Palestine Hotel, an area of significant enemy contact.

The eighth of April was a day of very intense fighting for A Company, 4-64 Armor. Their immediate mission was to secure an intersection and deny the enemy the use of the Jamurohora Bridge. On A Company's first attempt to secure the intersection they were met with heavy enemy direct and indirect fire from Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), mortars and small arms originating from prepared defensive positions (bunkers) and from within and atop surrounding buildings. As they approached the intersection, they suffered two Wounded in Action (WIA). The intersection was defended by almost a battalion of Iraqi Republican Guards. Fire was so intense that A Company pulled back and requested Close Air Support (CAS) and additional fire support. An A-1O aircraft dropped a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and strafed the enemy. A Company reattacked. The enemy continued to resist with much of their fire coming from the opposite bank of the Tigris River.

Spot reports were continually arriving at A Company concerning increasing enemy movements and activities along the opposite side of the Tigris River. Additional reports disclosed the discovery of potent Anti-Tank missiles. At this point, A Company had been in heavy fighting for several hours. The Company Commander was then advised by his Task Force Headquarters that an enemy radio had been recovered and that enemy transmissions were being monitored. Those transmissions indicated that A Company was being observed by an enemy spotter who was located across the Tigris River and was directing enemy forces and fires in their direction. While still under heavy mortar, RPG, and missile fire, the A Company Commander directed his people to scan the surrounding buildings to try to find the enemy observer. A Company personnel observed what they believed to be a enemy hunter/killer team on the balcony of a room on the upper floors of a large tan colored building. They also witnessed flashes of light, consistent with enemy fire, coming from the same general location as the building.

One 120mm tank round was fired at the suspected enemy observer position. Immediately following that, monitored transmissions indicated that the enemy observer was taking fire and coordinated enemy fire directed at A Company ceased. It was only some time after the incident that A Company became aware of the fact that the building they fired on was the Palestine Hotel and that journalists at the hotel had been killed or injured as a result. However, intelligence reports also indicated that the enemy used portions of the hotel as a base of operations and that heavy enemy activity was occurring in those areas in and immediately around the hotel.

Conclusions: A Company was under heavy enemy attack. The company had positive intelligence that they were under direct observation from
an enemy hunter/killer team. The activities on the balcony of the Palestine Hotel were consistent with that of an enemy combatant. They fired a single round in self-defense in full accordance with the Rules of Engagement. The enemy had repeatedly chosen to conduct its combat activities from throughout the civilian areas of Baghdad.

These actions included utilizing the Palestine Hotel and the areas immediately around it as a platform for military operations. Baghdad was a high intensity combat area and some journalists had elected to remain there despite repeated warnings of the extreme danger of doing so. The journalists’ death at the Palestine Hotel was a tragedy and the United States has the deepest sympathies for the families of those who were killed.
August 12, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-27



AR RAMADI, Iraq – One 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldier was killed and two others were wounded at approximately 10:30 a.m. Aug. 12 when their convoy hit three improvised explosive devices as they were traveling north of Highway 1 in the vicinity of Ar Ramadi.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital. One of the soldiers has since been returned to duty.

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

The incident is under investigation.

August 12, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-28



AR RAMADI, Iraq – A soldier attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment died while sleeping at a base camp in Ar Ramadi on Aug. 12.

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

The incident is under investigation.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13th. The 94th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 11 — In one of its first major decisions, Iraq's interim government appointed a 25-member team today to draw up a procedure to produce a new constitution. Ibrahim Jafari, president of the Iraqi Governing Council, said at a news conference that the committee would not write the constitution itself, but rather devise the mechanism by which it would be drafted.

"The task of the constitutional committee is to move with all segments of society to decide on the best mechanism for writing the draft of the constitution," Mr. Jafari said.

A new constitution is seen as a cornerstone of the democratic Iraq that American leaders overseeing the occupation here are trying to bring about. The process, ultimately expected to lead to democratic elections, is part of the effort under way here to erase a history of dictatorship and misrule and begin a tradition of representative government.


The myth of water rationing is repeated in the story below. And it simply isn't the whole story.

Yes, there are limits to the number of bottles of this water that soldiers can have daily.

But, as CPT Patti told me last week, there is unlimited water available from the "water dogs" who operate the ROWPU (On-site water purification) systems. The five water dogs attached to CPT Patti's company had purified and distributed over a million gallons of water to the troops by the 1st of August.

CPT Patti told me that the ROWPU water has a slight chlorine taste...but is often better than the mineral-heavy bottled water they get that comes from various points in the mid-east. According to CPT Patti, some of that bottled water tastes "like dirt".

Add a dash of Gatorade, or Kool-Aid or Crystal-light powder, and the chlorine taste is gone.

Don't believe the troops are suffering heat casualties due to water rationing. But you may believe that some troops criticize anything that the Army gives them so much they won't even try it...hence the resistance to ROWPU water.
The U.S. military has always had superb logistics. What happened? The answer is a mix of penny-pinching and privatization — which makes our soldiers' discomfort a symptom of something more general.

Colonel Hackworth blames "dilettantes in the Pentagon" who "thought they could run a war and an occupation on the cheap." But the cheapness isn't restricted to Iraq. In general, the "support our troops" crowd draws the line when that support might actually cost something.

The usually conservative Army Times has run blistering editorials on this subject. Its June 30 blast, titled "Nothing but Lip Service," begins: "In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap — and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately." The article goes on to detail a series of promises broken and benefits cut.

Military corner-cutting is part of a broader picture of penny-wise-pound-foolish government. When it comes to tax cuts or subsidies to powerful interest groups, money is no object. But elsewhere, including homeland security, small-government ideology reigns. The Bush administration has been unwilling to spend enough on any aspect of homeland security, whether it's providing firefighters and police officers with radios or protecting the nation's ports. The decision to pull air marshals off some flights to save on hotel bills — reversed when the public heard about it — was simply a sound-bite-worthy example. (Air marshals have told that a "witch hunt" is now under way at the Transportation Security Administration, and that those who reveal cost-cutting measures to the media are being threatened with the Patriot Act.)

There's also another element in the Iraq logistical snafu: privatization. The U.S. military has shifted many tasks traditionally performed by soldiers into the hands of such private contractors as Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary. The Iraq war and its aftermath gave this privatized system its first major test in combat — and the system failed.

The 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who stormed Baghdad flew home Monday, completing a nine-month deployment to the Persian Gulf.

The last of the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team landed at Hunter Army Airfield to turn in their weapons and the rest of their combat gear before being reunited with their families.

Only the division's 1st Brigade remains in Iraq, and it is scheduled to begin heading home in the next few weeks.

The division's soldiers were the first to cross into Baghdad on April 7, then held the city until they were reinforced by Marines three days later.

The unit's A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment was on the next-to-last flight carrying the brigade home. When those soldiers stepped off the plane, many broke into tears.

Spc. Deandrea Harris of Ozark, Ala., dropped to the tarmac in full combat gear and hugged the ground.

"It's so good to be home," the 23-year-old said.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Slago, a Bradley fighting vehicle commander with the company, codenamed Attack, called out for his former driver who was wounded in a firefight south of Baghdad.

"Sciria, Sciria!" he called. When Pvt. 1st Class Robert Sciria of Buffalo, N.Y., came jogging up, Slago hugged him and both men began crying.

"That's my buddy right there, he saved my life," said Slago, of Los Angeles. "He's my hero."

The infantrymen flew home on a chartered Delta Airlines flight decorated with red, white and blue streamers, U.S. flags and yellow ribbons. After months in the desert, surrounded by camouflage and olive drab, the soldiers smiled broadly at the flight attendants as they boarded the plane...

"The cycle of life is complete," said Tom Slago, himself wounded in the battle for Baghdad. "We left here, and now we're back here."

A man who says he was Sadddam Hussein’s sorcerer predicts the Iraqi dictator will be found dead.

The 62-year-old sprays perfume around the sparse, dingy room – “it smells nicer than incense” – then holds out his hands and feet for a visitor to bind, instructing him to knot the cloth three times and blow on it.

The lights go out, and small red flashes appear beneath the black cloak that covers a bowl of magic powders and water. Something pokes at the visitors - “birds,” the wizard says – and water splashes from the bowl.

The genies have arrived, and the questions begin.

Will Saddam be found? A genie answers in the old man’s voice: “Yes.”

Dead or alive? “Dead.”

And the 25 million question: Where is he? ”Dhuluaiyah,” he says, a village 55 miles north of Baghdad.

Coming from this man, the words carry special meaning. This isn’t just one of the thousands of magicians, fortune tellers and faith healers that are part of the forbidden fabric of Iraq. This is Saddam’s own wizard...

According to the magician and several others interviewed in Baghdad, Saddam was a firm believer in magic, and even applied himself, with modest success, to “studying the sands” and summoning genies.

He consulted frequently with two magicians from Iraq, one from Turkey, one from India, a French Arab and a beautiful Jewish witch from Morocco, the wizard says.

Saddam is still protected, he says, by a pair of golden statues imbued with magic. The deposed president speaks daily with the king and queen of genies - the same ones who provided the information on his whereabouts.

Other magicians also talk about Saddam, some describing fleeting meetings in which the president measured them up. Several said he has a powerful stone – a few described it as the bone of a parrot – implanted under the skin of his right arm to protect him against bullets and to make people love him.

Uh - believe that "make people love you" part has run its course...

Read what the Iranians are claiming to have heard on Saudi sponsored radio. It isn't true, of course, but that has never stopped an Arab broadcaster yet if he can spread hatred toward Israel and the USA.

The Saudi-based Voice of Iraq (VOI), monitored here in Iran's Ilam Province, revealed in its Monday night news that
Israel has secretly launched a routine weekly Baghdad-Tel Aviv flight.

VOI added, "The main objective in launching the said weekly flight between Iraq and Israel is forwarding cheap weapons and munitions for the US forces in occupied Iraq."

The VOI claimed that based on a clandestine arms deal contracts signed between the US army and Israeli military industries, Tel Aviv has been commissioned to provide for the major part of the US forces' arms demands during their unlimited stay in Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The staff at the 28th Combat Support Hospital will do anything to keep their patients comfortable, even if that means manually fanning a small, sick Iraqi child when the air conditioning breaks down.

But when it comes to their own comforts, the 300 doctors, nurses, medics and support soldiers at Camp Dogwood have it just about as rough as any servicemember in Iraq.

Regardless of rank, the soldiers all live in tents set up in the sand and without air conditioning. Bottled water is rationed, and telephones are rarely available, staffers said.

Off-hours entertainment is limited to impromptu volleyball tournaments, reading well-thumbed paperbacks, and searching out air-conditioned nooks and crannies in the hospital tents to snatch a couple of hours of sweat-free sleep.

The duty hours are either frantically busy or killingly dull.


BAGHDAD, Iraq — The drab warren of tents set up in the middle of the desert is an unlikely place for a team of brain surgeons.

But Army doctors here are performing procedures they say have never been performed outside a major hospital, including one surgery that saved a U.S. soldier’s life by removing a section of his brain.

The 207th Neurosurgical Team includes physicians who are normally stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the service’s most technologically advanced hospital facility.

Now, the same doctors who are considered pioneers in their field of neurology — the treatment of the brain and spine — have donned combat fatigues to work at the 28th Combat Support Hospital at Camp Dogwood, a remote base southwest of Baghdad.


But read it is possible it won't apply to your particular soldier.
The Pentagon hopes to have completed in roughly two weeks detailed plans on how to compensate troops deployed to Iraq.

Proposals include the leave, possible extra money for those units tagged to take on the yearlong deployment, and other “R&R,” said Navy Cmdr. Chris Pendleton, the military assistant for the Deputy Undersecretary for Military Personnel Policy.

Details have yet to be finalized and would ultimately be approved by David Chu, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness.

“We’re in the final stages of articulating a plan that would cover everything from leave for all the troops there to R&R and compensation,” Pendleton said. “It’s really quite intricate. But we think in two weeks, it’ll be ready
August 11, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-23



TIKRIT, Iraq – One 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed and two were wounded in an improvised explosive attack near the Ba’qubah police station Aug. 10 at approximately 9:45 p.m.

The soldiers were evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital for treatment where one soldier subsequently died of wounds received.

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