Saturday, August 30, 2003

A man believed to be an al-Qaida operative, found with 11 surface-to-air missiles, has been arrested in Iraq by U.S. troops and has acknowledged he had been training with Ansar al Islam fighters to use the weapons against American forces, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

The arrest marks the first time the U.S.-led coalition has apprehended someone believed to be a member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network who is operating in Iraq.

The unnamed suspect was captured during an Aug. 20 raid in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the capital, along with two other unnamed men, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. At least one of the other two men was believed to be a member of the extremist group Ansar al Islam, the official said.

Intelligence officials said they found the suspected al-Qaida member's account, given during interrogation, credible.

And he "looked not fine".

Imagine that.
Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite television Thursday quoted witnesses as saying that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was seen in Iraq's northern city of Mosul and he "looked not fine."

Some witnesses said they saw the former Iraqi leader several days ago in Mosul, 450 km north of Baghdad, and he "looked in psychological and physical trouble," an al-Arabiya announcer reported in Arabic.

And conditions for soldiers are improving.

Thousands of dollars have been spent to have local contractors put doors and windows in the buildings where the soldiers live and wire them for electricity. Showers and portable toilets have been set up in the camps.

Almost all of the soldiers now live in buildings, and most of the rooms have air-conditioning. Soldiers say the cool air is the biggest blessing.

They have been suffering through temperatures in the mid 120s.

"It is nice that we have air-conditioning," said Spc. Chris Beck of the 2nd Battalion. "It makes it bearable."

Capt. Eldridge Brown, the commander of B Company in the 3rd Battalion, said conditions were awful when the temperatures were at their peak. "There was no way to escape the heat," he said. "Now we have a place to go back to and keep cool."

His troops are living in a complex once used by the Iraqi military. All of the soldiers in his company sleep in air-conditioned rooms.

As the living conditions improved, so did the food. Gone are the days of three "Meals, Ready to Eat" and hot purified water.

When they arrived in Baghdad, the soldiers were given two bottles of purified water a day. Not only was there no way to keep it cool - it was roughly the temperature of hot coffee - soldiers said it caused diarrhea.

Now bottled water is available and it is kept cool in ice-filled coolers or in large freezers.

With the cold water came hot chow. The soldiers at the supply area and brigade headquarters get a hot breakfast every morning and a hot dinner every night. The paratroopers stationed elsewhere in the city get hot food for dinner every night and three hot breakfasts a week.

Spc. Shane Ely, the 3rd Battalion commander's driver, said hot chow is the highlight of his day. "Monday, Wednesday, Friday and at night is what I look forward to," he said.

The food is shipped from Germany. Each battalion prepares its own food. Staff Sgt. Ronald Williams supervises the kitchen at 2nd Brigade's headquarters. He and his staff started providing hot meals in May, and morale rose immediately, he said.

"The Army moves on stomachs," he said, paraphrasing a saying attributed to Frederick the Great.

Mission pace slows

While the conditions have gotten steadily better, the mission pace has slowed. Soldiers said they now have fairly set schedules and responsibilities. The 2nd and 3rd battalions are responsible for security in the Al Rashid district of southern Baghdad. The 1st Battalion is attached to a brigade from the 1st Armored Division based in the northern part of the city.

To pass the time and stay in shape, the paratroopers have resumed physical training. In the mornings and evenings, soldiers can be seen running or lifting weights. Some compounds have basketball courts or volleyball courts, which are crowded when the sun goes down.

All of the camps have a weight room. Pfc. Jonathan Heeb works out four times a week in the weight room at the brigade's supply area.

"There is nothing else to do here," said Heeb, who is in the 407th Forward Support Battalion. "You have to do something to pass the time."

The bloody bombings of Tuesday, August 19th, challenge those anti-war activists who say that terrorists hate us because of America's warlike policies.

On Bloody Tuesday, Islamic terrorists struck not U.S. targets, but United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. The U.N. opposed the war but their more positive attitude toward the Arab world didn't stop the killers from murdering U.N. humanitarian officials, along with innocent Iraqis.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has been doing just what critics from the left want it to do-compromising with Palestinians, releasing their prisoners, withdrawing from their towns. Palestinian officials even proclaimed an official truce--but that didn't stop their terror organizations from claiming "credit" for a bus bombing killing more than 20 and injuring over 100.

These events prove that attacks of Islamic fanatics bear little connection to American or Israeli policy--but stem from the blind bloodlust of these evil killers.

They don't need to be understood. They need to be stopped.

One of the principal political leaders of Iraqi Shi'ism, Hakim, who had returned from 24 years of exile in Iran after the fall of Saddam Hussein, died in a car bomb yesterday as he was coming out of the traditional Friday prayers held at the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf.

Let us begin with a standard murder-investigation question: Who profits from the crime? In the case of Hakim, three potential profiteers-from-crime come to mind.

* The first, and possibly the likeliest, are the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime.

For almost two decades, the Ba'athist regime regarded the late Shi'ite leader as its principal enemy. Over the years, the Ba'athists killed large numbers of Hakim's family, including his eldest brother, and tried for years to bribe many more to submit to Saddam's rule, but with no success.

By murdering Hakim, the remnants of the Ba'ath Party may be trying to extend the current violence in Iraq to the heartland of Shi'ism, which has so far been generally calm.

This is a strategy of chaos designed to raise the cost of occupation while persuading world public opinion that Iraq is running out of control. The remnants of the Ba'athists know that the stabilization of the Shi'ite heartland is the key step towards normalization in Iraq.

* A second possibility is the group of shady characters formed around Muqtada Sadr, a young Shi'ite mullah who is desperately looking for a role in postwar Iraq. Sadr's current aim is to eliminate all others who may provide the Shi'ites with leadership.

Sadr, who recently visited Tehran to win support from the Islamist regime there, has not openly challenged the U.S.-led coalition. In fact, his group has cooperated with the coalition forces to keep tension under control, especially in parts of Baghdad.

His current strategy seems to be aimed at presenting himself as the sole credible interlocutor for Tehran and Washington, at a time when Iran and the United States are becoming involved in what amounts to a proxy war in Iraq.

The young Sadr has denied any role in the murder. But suspicions that his group was involved will not go away. The murder last spring of religious leader Abdel-Majid Khoi, also in Najaf, and the assassination of several other Shi'ite clerics in the past four months have established a pattern that leads back to the Sadr group.

* The third possibility is the group of hard-line Khomeinists in Tehran who see Iraq as a battleground between their brand of "Islamic revolution" and the United States.

Having publicly warned Hakim not to join the recently created Governing Council in Baghdad, Tehran hard-liners could present his murder as a warning to others who might wish to cooperate with the U.S.-led coalition.

Iranian Khomeinists have been angered by Hakim's repeated assertions that he and his party do not regard present-day Iran as a model. Hakim's espousal of a secular and democratic system for Iraq was a serious blow to Tehran's ruling mullahs, who have always dreamed of "exporting" their revolution to other Muslim countries.

Iraq, the biggest of only three Arab states where Shi'ites are the majority, was always seen by the Khomeinists as the prime target for an Islamist revolution.


I'm proud to say that a reader of CPT Patti's website (and father of a soldier in Baghdad) got the ball rolling on this by writing to his congressman.

Now, in the words of that reader "Take this to your Congressman and ask them to sponsor this House Resolution. I have got the ball rolling on my end now all we need is to let them know that lots of people out here are concerned."

Some of you may have already noted that the postage sometimes exceeds the cost of the goods you are sending. This would be a real bonus to the families and friends of the troops.

If you have no experience in communicating with your congressman, all he or she needs to know is that you request support for "HR 2705".

1st Session

H. R. 2705

To amend title 39, United States Code, to provide for free mailing privileges for personal correspondence and certain parcels sent from within the United States to members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty abroad who are engaged in military operations involving armed conflict against a hostile foreign force, and for other purposes.


July 10, 2003
Mr. LUCAS of Kentucky introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Government Reform

To amend title 39, United States Code, to provide for free mailing privileges for personal correspondence and certain parcels sent from within the United States to members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty abroad who are engaged in military operations involving armed conflict against a hostile foreign force, and for other purposes.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 30th. The 111th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Friday, August 29, 2003


On August 27, Amina Lawal, a 32-year-old Nigerian single mother, sat in an Islamic sharia court in Katsina state in northern Nigeria and nursed her two-year-old daughter, Wasila. Wasila had been born over nine months after Amina was divorced and, in Nigeria's Islamic courts, this is taken to be prima facie evidence that Amina committed adultery.

If her appeal of this conviction is denied, she will be buried up to her chest, and the surrounding throng will throw stones at her until she is dead. The stones used must not be so small that they will inflict no damage, nor so large that they will kill her too quickly. She must die slowly and painfully in front of the crowd.

Of course, in any adultery case, there must also be a man involved, and Amina testified that she had not willingly committed adultery but had been raped. However, to convict a man of rape, Nigeria's sharia courts usually require that there be four male Muslim witnesses.

Though the courts are not yet clear on this, it may be (following precedent in other Islamist jurisdictions such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and Pakistan) that up to eight male non-Muslim witnesses, or 16 female non-Muslim witnesses, would also suffice for the conviction of a male Muslim.

However, since Nigerian adulterers and rapists — like those in other parts of the world — do not usually perform in front of crowds, the man has been acquitted, and Amina and her daughter stand alone...

(T)errible as is Amina's plight, her situation is but a symptom of a larger problem afflicting Nigeria and other African nations. Nigeria — along with Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa — is subject to major campaigns by radical Islamists to spread their ideology.

When radical Islam gains a foothold, stonings, amputations, and religious executions follow. But the effects are even wider than these barbarities. In such regimes, questioning the government is effectively equated with questioning God. Since extremists maintain that their laws and rulers are authorized directly by God without any human mediation, any political opposition is, by definition, blasphemy, and thus punishable by death.

Thus the victory of radical Islam, even when it is won peacefully, necessarily leads to the defeat of democracy, of any republican virtues, and of any human rights.

In the 118 days between May 1 and August 26, there were 63 American battlefield deaths in Iraq.

About two weeks ago, the left-wing press recognized that this did not sound as dramatic as they wished. So they started totaling all military deaths in Iraq, including those from accidents, which happen in military life every day, everywhere.

This brought the total up by another 78. They're more comfortable with that total number, 141. But the true battlefield number is 63.

This is significant, because in the first stage of the war, from March 19 until April 30, 112 Americans died in combat, and 29 in various accidents. In those first 42 days, that meant almost 3 combat deaths per day. In the 118 days since then, there has been about one combat death every other day — 63 in 118 days. (The accidental deaths have been fairly consistent: 29 in 42 days early on, and after May 1, 78 in 118 days.)...

The nine Democratic candidates for the presidency in 2004 are already campaigning bitterly on this and other "bad news" issues in Iraq...

President Bush, largely silent just now, and biding his time, has powerful arguments waiting in rebuttal. He welcomes the strategic error of the Democrats in attacking him on the issue of war — where he is far stronger than they — rather than on domestic issues, where they have advantages.

For one thing, terrorist attacks all around the world dropped sharply in 2002 and even more so far during 2003.

Second, there has been no further terrorist attack in America in almost two full years. There have been multiple threats, and any day another tragedy may yet occur. But the nation is not where it was prior to September 11, 2001.

Afghanistan is no longer an open, free training ground for al Qaeda. Iraq is no longer threatening Iran and Kuwait. Also, no longer sending funds to Palestinian homicide bombers. Iran, Syria, and even Saudi Arabia are being more careful, now that they are closely watched. These are large steps forward for the Middle East. More must be done.

Since March thousands of terrorists from around the world have flocked to Iraq to wreak death on Americans. They are still pouring in, drawn like moths to flame. They hope to kill Americans. Instead, they themselves are being killed in droves. In early August, for instance, in an American sweep north of Baghdad, while eight Americans were being killed, more than 300 Fedayeen who engaged them died in combat.

Every terrorist who rushes to Baghdad to kill Americans is one less who is attacking Americans at home. The American strategy is to fight them in Iraq, and other places outside the U.S., rather than to sit and wait for them to come to harm us in New York, Washington, or Los Angeles.


Another masterfully insightful piece by Victor Davis Hanson. You really should read the whole thing here.
It is not hard to determine who wishes the United States to succeed in rebuilding Iraq along lines that will promote consensual government, personal freedom, and economic vitality: Hardly anyone. At least, few other than the Iraqi and American people.

Surely not the Baathist holdovers in the Sunni triangle. They will not only incur hatred for their past sins from a newly empowered democratic citizenry, but will also be doomed to slough off to the sidelines, since their antiquated skills — acquired through intrigue, murder, and banal bureaucracy — will be of less use in a newly structured society...

The theocrats all over the region wish us to fail as well. Modernism emanating from Iraq would undermine the strictures of the clerics, in empowering women and eroding the fossilized structures of a tribal society.

(And) what are Shiite extremists to do in Iran should their more prosperous brethren in Iraq find that freedom, affluence, and Islam are not always so incompatible after all?...

Compared to Saddam's murderous fascist regime, the Saudis' medieval monarchy was sold to us by the oil lobby as a "moderate voice." But in contrast to an emerging neighboring democracy across the border, Saudi Wahhabi theocracy might soon begin to appear downright repulsive. Who knows what might happen should the Iraq experiment succeed and Arabs flock to Iraqi universities, malls, and tourist sites — and then return home wondering why commensurate freedoms and affluence are not found there?

If I were one of the corrupt grandees of the Arab League, I would empty my capital of as many fanatics and crazed killers as possible and with dispatch export them all to Iraq, to nip all that nonsense in the bud...

Little needs be said about the U.N. After its decade-long impotence where it came to disarming Saddam, and the circus last winter concerning the American invasion of Iraq, its officials will now have no interest in seeing the United States create a just society when they themselves could not...

The U.N. has simply ceased to be the liberal, Western-inspired utopian body that arose from the ashes of World War II with the promise that reasonable, civilized nations could adjudicate differences rather than killing each other over perceived grievances. Instead, it is a mobocracy, where majority votes reflect a passive-aggressive stance toward the United States — guiltily desiring our money and support, while still eager for a televised forum in high-profile New York to pose and showcase its cheap, easy defiance of America.

What seems lacking in the Arab controversy about Iraq, however, is a proper debate that takes into account the desires of Iraqis themselves and the overall Arab interests.

The editor-in-chief of Cairo's mass circulation weekly Al-Mussawar, Makram Mohamed Ahmed correctly noted in last week's issue that there are "negative implications" for the Arabs' refusal to recognise the Iraqi council. Ahmed described the Arab position as "paranoid" as well as "insulting" to the Iraqis, and labelled the policy of Egypt's Foreign Ministry as "unjustified".

The diplomatic tug of war over the (Iraqi Governing) council's legitimacy has proven to be irrelevant and in some cases self-defeating. One of the keys to understanding the current situation is that Saddam's fall has had a positive effect on the region and its stability. The new regime in Iraq will find it difficult to continue Saddam's regional ambitions and will certainly play a moderating role in the region's politics...

In his numerous statements in Cairo, Al- Jaafari tried to explain that it is not a perfect solution, yet it is the most representative governing body Iraqis could hope for. He repeatedly noted that the council was never meant to be the end point of the Iraqi political reconstruction but only its beginning. The clear message brought by the council's delegation to Cairo was that it is in the Arabs' own interests to extend a hand to the Iraqis to help them overcome current difficulties.

Indeed, the consequences of failure in Iraq would be serious for the region and for global stability as a whole. If reconstruction continues to falter, Iraqi public opinion will coagulate in opposition to the occupation and armed resistance will mount. On the other side of the world, the American public may increasingly resent sustaining an intervention costing American lives and around one billion dollars a week and the US may be tempted to abruptly withdraw its troops from the growing chaos.

This is a worst case scenario, possibly a recipe for civil war and the Balkanisation of the country into ethnic and sectarian entities. Iraqis and Arabs have a shared interest in preventing this scenario. As the delegation's tour has showed, the Arabs must make more of an effort and Iraqis should be given a far greater role in running their own country, particularly in creating a credible Iraqi authority.

The bombing of the United Nations building in Baghdad that left 23 dead, including UN special envoy to Iraq Sérgio Vieira de Mello, with increasing speculation that non-Iraqi terrorists might have been behind attack, is keeping the drama of Iraq on centre-stage. The cost of losing Iraq is too great to contemplate.

This incident about two weeks ago prompted riots in Sadr City in northern Baghdad.
The U.S. army has relieved of duty the commander of a Black Hawk helicopter that intentionally knocked down a black Shiite flag in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad two weeks ago, military sources told United Press International Thursday.

The officer in command of the helicopter, who has not been identified, directed his crew to "tear the flag down" and has been relieved of duty, the source said. The pilot of the helicopter is grounded from flight until a review is conducted of his flying record. It is unlikely he will be allowed to return to flight, the source said.


No coach of the year honors for those guys.
“There were beatings. The players are now starting to talk more. Most want to forget about it and look to the future.”

He said punishment could range from being forced to kick a football-sized stone for hours on end, beatings on the soles of their feet, food, water and sleep deprivation and even being forced to stay out in the sun in 55-degree Celsius (131 degrees Farenheit) heat.

Jail terms, he added, were the most common form of punishment.

Iraq’s youth team were thrown in prison for a month in 1998 when they failed to win the Asia Youth Cup that year, the journalist added.

Saad Naser Jamil, Iraq’s goalkeeper, said the team would always be afraid of losing.

He recalled phone calls from Uday or his associates before, after and sometimes even at halftime to threaten players about reprisals.

Midfielder Ali Waheb Setet also spoke about pressure applied by Uday but said that was all over now with Uday killed and Saddam in hiding.

“When Saddam was there we had to play good and there was too much pressure,” he said. “After every game there was pressure. But now it is a different situation. It is much better now. That is all behind me. This is a new era. It is only football now.”

An interesting perspective on those who wish us to leave Iraq.
Almost all the U.S. and coalition casual ties in post-war Iraq have been in flicted in the so-called "Sunni Triangle," which includes Baghdad and the towns to the north and west of the capital.
The region is predominantly Sunni Muslim; it was — and still seems to be — sympathetic to Saddam Hussein.

And, much like many Germans in 1919, the locals apparently don't understand that their leader lost the war.

For sure, they didn't witness the utter destruction visited on Saddam's vaunted legions. As a result, they tend not to take American military might seriously.

More to the point, the Sunnis seem also not to realize that coalition forces are all that stand between them and the bloody vengeance of the people they oppressed for three decades: the Shi'ites of the south and the Kurds of the north — who together form a majority in Iraq.

If the Americans were to pull out of Iraq prematurely, it's likely that the Shi'ites would fall upon the Sunnis in a civil war that would make Lebanon's look like child's play, with casualty numbers out of Rwanda.


And yet another soldier tells us how the vast majority of Iraqis appreciate the Americans.

If you are a long time reader, you know this is a consistent report from every soldier we have found speaking on the subject.

So ask youself why the headlines all deal with the tiny fractions...
The willingness of Iraqis to approach and work with coalition forces to provide information reflects how tension has diminished since the 315th’s arrival in Baghdad May 1.

Chun said Iraqis are accepting the operations better because posters that once disappear in three days can now be found hanging after three weeks.

Davis said, considering Baghdad’s population, only a small number of people hate the coalition enough to bring harm to the forces.

“There are 5 million people in Baghdad. I believe 99.96 percent of them are happy with us here,” Davis said. “Eventually that small percentage (who are against the coalition) will be drowned by people saying, ‘Shut up. Life is better.’”
It's a fair bet this Baghdad baby won't run into anybody else in Iraq with the same name.

His parents named their six-week-old son George Bush, to show their appreciation for U.S. efforts to get Saddam Hussein out of power.

If the couple had had twin boys -- the other baby would have been named Tony Blair, because the father says both the U.S. and Britain liberated Iraq.

The boy's mom tells Associated Press Television News that all Iraqis hated Saddam's regime -- and that President Bush saved the Iraqi people from Saddam.

As the woman did the interview, little George Bush screamed in his crib.


I'm not sure how this applies to CPT Patti and the Gators, because they had received that very large generator.

Still, the 1-36 Infantry guys are ours too, and obviously it affects them.
Follow-on units that rotate into Iraq in 2004 may have enough power to keep air conditioning on 24 hours a day through the sweltering summer, but the troops who are there now will be lucky to keep their current half-on, half-off power schedule through the rest of their yearlong deployment, according to U.S. officials.

“It ain’t going to get any better while we’re here,” 1st Armored Division commander Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the 1-36th Infantry, earlier in August.

Iraq’s largest city, Baghdad, where the 35,000 deployed soldiers from the 1st AD are based, is getting about half of the 2,600 daily megawatts it requires to operate full-time, Dempsey said.

“That’s about as good as it’s going to get for us,” said Dempsey, whose division is scheduled to return to Wiesbaden, Germany, in March or April...

Individual military units often purchase smaller generators for their sleeping and living quarters, but the extreme heat and dust cause frequent breakdowns.

Power has been one of the biggest headaches since the end of the war, when coalition engineers were astonished not only by the extensive looting of Iraq’s power plants, but by the 1960’s-era technology and jury-rigged nature of the facilities.

August 28, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-58



CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – A U.S. soldier with the 304th Civil Affairs Brigade died of undetermined causes at approximately 11 a.m. on Aug. 27 at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

The soldier was off duty and in the living quarters at the time. After the soldier appeared unresponsive, fellow soldiers administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Other attempts at reviving the soldier were made without success at a nearby medical clinic.

The cause of death is under investigation.

The name of the soldier is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin
FRIDAY, AUGUST 29th. The 110th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Thursday, August 28, 2003


But silly to the point of absurd.

However, I can't help myself.

Saw a posting at The Corner that alerted me to the fact that certain Emily Dickenson poems could be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Go on...try it!
BECAUSE I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

But wait, there is more!

It works on this one too...and if you skip to the fifth stanza, you even get the eerie coincidence of "a Yellow Eye".

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
In Corners - till a Day
The Owner passed - identified -
And carried Me away -...

To foe of His - I'm deadly foe -
None stir the second time -
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye -
Or an emphatic Thumb -

Cool! - now I'm gonna go see if I can find some Frost that will fit the tune to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida...

A look at why you have a queasy feeling in your stomach about Iraq, when in fact things are not all that bad.
It was big news that the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq after the conclusion of major combat operations has surpassed the number killed during the war itself. In fact, however, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the VFW convention, the war produced "fewer casualties and less destruction than probably any war in history." The media, especially cable news organizations, are focusing on daily attacks on U.S. soldiers. "Each setback in Iraq is repeated and repeated and repeated," Rumsfeld said, "as if it were 10 or 20 setbacks."

Conditioned by the media’s gloom-and-doom reporting, the latest Newsweek poll finds that just 13 percent say U.S. efforts to establish security and rebuild Iraq have gone very well since May 1, when combat officially ended. On Meet the Press, host Tim Russert said, "It couldn’t be more serious." He suggested that the situation was deteriorating so quickly that the U.S. may have to bring back the military draft. On the CBS Evening News, anchor John Roberts said the conflict had "no end in sight."

The media refuse to emphasize that there are already more than 50,000 Iraqis under arms that are working in coordination with the U.S. They include 35,000 in the Iraqi police forces, 2,300 in a civil-defense corps, and 17,000 security guards hired to defend infrastructure...

Any loss is tragic. However, the number of U.S. troops dead from the war in Iraq is just slightly more than the number of Americans who died from West Nile Virus last year...

The Iraq comparison with Vietnam may be valid when analyzing media coverage. American Legion Magazine has published an article by Jim Bohannon, the talk show host who served in Vietnam in 1967-68 with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He writes that the communist strategy of "winning away from the battlefield worked—an especially fortunate circumstance for the communist cause, since they never came close to winning on the battlefield against U.S. forces." Bohannon cites coverage of the Tet offensive, when a U.S. military victory was depicted as a success by the communists. He says American reporters "exaggerated the power and popularity of the Viet Cong" and provided the American people "gloomy media depictions" about progress of the war. Bohannon concludes, "No matter how one feels about the war, few can deny that the enemy would have approved of the coverage."

Bohannon notes that former CBS Evening News anchorman Walter Cronkite wrote with apparent pride in his own memoirs that, "The daily coverage of the Vietnamese battlefield helped convince the American public that the carnage was not worth the candle." One has to consider that the gloom and doom coverage of the Iraq war is also designed to force a U.S. withdrawal and another American humiliation. At the very least, liberal Democrats carping about Iraq hope to wound President Bush politically and force him to turn the country over to the United Nations.


Fresh back from Baghdad, and not impressed with the view from here.
Perceptions make reality, so the saying goes. Sitting in Iraq, trying to bring stability to a nation that has mostly known fear and violence, I was struck by the daily reports and opinions across our nation's airwaves. The almost-daily deaths, coupled with a pessimistic portrayal of U.S. activities in Iraq, leave me bewildered.

Just a few months ago, we had toppled one of the world's worst dictators since Stalin, who killed more Muslims in the 20th century than the rest of the world combined. We were embarking upon our new mission of rebuilding a country from the ground up, a task more difficult than war, as destruction is always easier than creation.

In those few months, if I am to believe the media, we have seen our nation's resolve stagger, support dwindle and heard that our Congress is upset over the costs of rebuilding. We seem to be more focused on politics than on giving some real constructive critiques to our reconstruction efforts...

I know it is getting close to an election year, but let's keep our eyes on the ball. We have embarked on a massive project that has the possibility of turning the Middle East away from being a breeding ground for al-Qaida and despots.

The Iraqis that I saw on the streets every day do not want us to stay beyond what is necessary, but they also do not want to be Saddamed, Khomeinied or Talibanned.

That is our current choice. Do we leave the Iraqi people to be ruled by the Guilds of Violence, who have no concept of economics, politics and humanity beyond "might makes right?" If we do, we will not be able to isolate ourselves from their reach, but only force our children and grandchildren to bear the burden that we shirked.

Our leaders and soldiers are working long hours in austere conditions to help the Iraqi people. We are policing the streets to allow average Iraqis to return to jobs, go to school and do significantly more than guard their houses...

Our tasks are broad and we are working diligently to build Iraq. Our biggest constraint -- we are not a nation of Saddams. Our values restrain us from brutalizing and terrorizing the populace into compliance. Some of the thugs see this as weakness. I see it as why their cousins and brothers spend most of their time trying to get immigration visas and escape the degradation that exists in their homeland.

Therefore, there is a race here between freedom and oppression. Time will determine which side had the most resolve.

Our daily progress is having a positive impact, but I guess the reporters and politicians sitting in their royal offices in the United States can't see beyond their next career move.

The United States is willing to consider introducing a U.N. force in Iraq as long as it is under U.S. command, a senior State Department official said, the first time Washington has indicated that it would accept a significant multinational military presence in the country.

The proposal for a multinational force, which Washington has resisted, is one of several ideas being discussed at the United Nations, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Tuesday in an interview with regional news agencies.

“The American would be the U.N. commander,” said Armitage, who stressed that “that’s one idea that’s being explored. ... [We] haven’t finished our deliberations. We’ve got a ways to go.”

A multinational force under U.S. command was first proposed last week by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Such a force would be authorized but not organized by the United Nations as a blue-helmeted peacekeeping operation.

In practice, it would mean the presence of officers from other countries in command headquarters, which is now dominated by the United States and Britain.

India, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and several Middle Eastern nations have insisted on a U.N. mandate before they would send soldiers.

What you see in Baghdad when you don't focus on the terror.
Lost amid news of the horrific attacks and Iraqis' complaints about the disorder that war has brought to their nation are signs that this capital city of more than 5 million people is slowly returning to normal and that most people are getting on with their lives.

Baghdadis are getting married, and children are having graduation parties. Restaurants are crowded. Market stalls are brimming with fruit and vegetables. The city's notorious traffic is back. Refrigerators, boxes of flat-screen TVs and washing machines are piled up as stores hold sidewalk sales throughout the city.

Couples sit crammed into booths in the Moonlight cafe and talk over soft drinks and sandwiches. Hundreds of traffic police officers in white shirts are back at their posts, gesturing wildly but in vain at the chaotic traffic. Electricity has come back slowly, though in most of the city it's on for three hours, then off for three hours.

"This is the fourth month without government, and look outside," says Firas Hazim, 30, who runs a light-fixture store in the upscale al-Mansour neighborhood, as he gestures to the bustling street outside his shop. "We are living very normally."


Two Florida Guardsmen on patrol stop long enough to marry Iraqi women.

And now the challenges begin.
The soldiers met after the Iraqi women, both English-speaking doctors, took jobs working with the Americans. The Iraqi women and American soldiers could flirt and visit. But as friendships deepened into romance, U.S. officers considered the relationships a security problem. The guardsmen were prohibited from fraternization during combat.

Nevertheless, a couple of weeks before the ceremony, the soldiers converted to Islam in an Iraqi court. Finally, with an American reporter watching, it took less than a half-hour in the morning sun to hear the judge's recitations of the vows. The two couples exchanged rings, signed the paperwork and were married.

The weddings illustrate the gray areas of the American-Iraqi relationship in this city, where troops are liberators and occupiers, where the United States hopes to win over most Iraqis while still fighting others.

The marriage-on-patrol was necessary because the soldiers' superior officers were trying to block it.


From a Florida Army National Guardsman.
As we're finishing up, there's yet another gunshot from very close, around the corner from where we had dismounted for a quick check of the area. We gather at the corner, but there are no follow-up shots, so we head back to base.

In general, Baghdad seems to me to be better than it was two months ago, despite the rise in bombings. Many of the huge mounds of trash are cleaned up, the curbs repainted, less gunfire at night. The endless gas station lines are much shorter, the traffic snarls less intense and there's more electricity at night, although still far from enough. Most importantly, the Iraqis of Al Wasiria seem to like these Americans, often calling out to them by name as they're on patrol.

There's a lot of contact between the Americans and the Iraqis in this sector. Staff Sergeant Christopher Blackwell of Pensacola is engaged to marry a local woman, a doctor, whom he met when she showed up to ask the battalion for help with a problem. Blackwell first asked her family for permission, then converted to Islam (for both, more of a technicality than a religious issue, though Blackwell versed himself in the Koran). They're waiting for a civil judge to perform the ceremony. Since the invasion there have been some 30 marriages between Americans and Iraqis.

This is a good piece, read the whole thing.

But a lot of work for the troops.
Instead of the more than 20 bases now scattered around Baghdad, the 1st Armored Division plans to consolidate its 35,000 troops into four major, brigade-level forward operating bases by early next year, according to the division’s commander, Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

“I’m bringing [the smaller bases] in to protect them,” Dempsey said earlier this month. “Right now, I am using 33 percent of my combat power to protect [the troops].”

That’s a level that cannot be sustained, Dempsey said. And if he tried, he said, “I’ll turn [the division] into a self-licking ice-cream cone.”

Dempsey’s plan is to consolidate at the brigade level, using four major forward operating bases, or “FOBs.” His target date to complete the job is Jan 1.

The bases will be located at Taggi, about 20 miles north of Baghdad; Baghdad International Airport, on the south side of the city; Al Rashid Airbase, on the east side of Baghdad; and “Camp Falcon,” where some of the 82nd Airborne troops are now.

All of the bases are well outside Baghdad — a major change as some U.S. military personnel are stationed in residential neighborhoods.

To me this makes sense - especially from a long-term perspective, though I suspect there will be much grumbling about it. For one thing many of the troops have spent an enormous amount of time and energy upgrading their own living and working spaces. Some of these improvements may not get to travel to the new locations.

And, some of those who currently find themselves in the category of "the haves" will now find themselves perhaps stripped of that privilege and will be sharing with the "have nots".

But let's not lose sight of the bigger issue...this move wasn't possible when we first got to Baghdad because the mission required our guys on patrol all the time in deepest, darkest Baghdad.

That has changed. And that is a positive step forward.

August 27, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-56



BAGHDAD, Iraq-One 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldier was killed and three were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack in Al Fallujah at approximately 7:10 a.m. on Aug. 27.

The soldiers were evacuated to a nearby medical facility for treatment. One soldier later died of wounds received.

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

August 27, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-57



BAGHDAD, Iraq – One 205th Military Intelligence Brigade soldier was killed and two were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on a military convoy in Baghdad at approximately 7:45 a.m. on Aug. 27.

The soldiers were taken to a nearby combat support hospital.

The soldiers' names are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 28th. The 109th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Keep this in mind anytime you hear those from the left who insist on fomenting class warfare by making reference to "tax cuts for the rich".
According to preliminary data released by the Internal Revenue Service and a new Tax Foundation Special Report, the top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers earned more than two-thirds of the nation's income (67.3%) and paid more than five out of every six dollars collected by the federal income tax (84%) in 2000. There were 32 million tax returns in the top 25 percent, all with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) over $55,225.

This group makes 67% of the income and pays 84% of the tax. Sounds like they could USE a tax cut.

And by the way...would you have guessed that an AGI of $55K would put you in the top 25%?

Link is

But not necessarily the countries usually called allies.
In a relatively modest but welcome bit of relief for American forces, troops from 21 countries including Spain, Poland and four Central American nations will begin taking over duties from U.S. Marines in south-central Iraq this week.

The changeover involving about 10,000 fresh troops comes as President Bush renews efforts to enlist more countries' help in Iraq, hoping that last week's bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad will motivate heretofore reluctant allies to take part in shoring up security.
It's true: Many men facing battle find religion quickly.

And so do their tanks.

Army Capt. Ronald E. Cooper Jr., on leave at his parents' Jonesfield Township home after 11 months in Iraq, blessed tanks and baptized soldiers in desert holes.

"Everybody was talking to God the closer we got to war," said Cooper, a chaplain. "The men were getting prepared -- mentally, physically and spiritually.

"I baptized eight men in Iraq. The engineers dug a hole and I used a baptismal liner from my chaplain's kit. The top was held in place with sandbags."

As war got closer, men pressed Cooper to bless their tanks, their equipment and themselves.

Later, after some of the thickest fighting, Cooper found himself holding a memorial service for those who died -- in a palm grove right off Highway 8, the main thoroughfare between Basra in the south and Baghdad.

"There were many times I asked myself what I was doing there," but after giving spiritual relief to the men "those were the moments I realized why I was there."

To understand what an Iraqi August is like, another soldier suggested this:

Turn your oven to 500 degrees, open the oven door and sit in front of it, with a fan blowing the hot air on your face. Then sprinkle sand into the hot breeze, and you've just about got it.

Oh yeah, one other thing, Matt said in his note:

"Had my first experience with fleas last night as I slept at some strange farmhouse. Very irritating."

Another Central Indiana soldier, Lt. Kevin McCormick, could tell you about the heat this way: His soap melted.

He is the son of Ron and Linda McCormick of Noblesville.

"He finally got a bed, but it's too hot to sleep inside the building," his mother said. It's also hard to sleep when people are shooting rocket-propelled grenades at you. But Kevin has not lost his sense of humor.

"He says the terrorists just have no consideration for other people's sleeping schedules," his mother said.

On Tuesday US Marines in Iraq officially handed over to the Bulgarian peacekeeping battalion the control over the holy Shia city, 108km southern of capital Baghdad...

Some 480 Bulgarian troops take part in the international contingent that watches over security in Kerbala spared from the recurrent clashes in the other parts of Iraq. The Bulgarian contingent will be under command of Polish forces which are to take over September 3 the control over five stabilization zones chosen by the Anglo-American forces. The Polish sector is located south of Baghdad between the frontiers with Saudi Arabia and Iran.


Interviews with Iraqi armed forces members on how their defenses disintegrated so quickly.
The Iraqi soldiers in their path were hopelessly ill trained. "We never hit a single target," said Assad Ashur, 23, a Republican Guard soldier who had been stationed in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad on the Euphrates. "One mortar we shot killed about eight Iraqi civilians."

Preparation for the air bombardment was little better. To survive the "shock and awe" bombing campaign, scores of key officers had rented houses in Baghdad in early March, fearing their offices would be bombed. But few had telephones installed or had radio communications.

Instead, commanders dispatched orders on slips of paper carried by car or motorcycle to the houses.

"At first, this man would come sometimes 20 times a day with orders from the commander," said Colonel Rafed Abdul Mehdi, who had organized deployments for Baghdad's antiaircraft missiles from a house in east Baghdad. "We would move the missile launchers several times a day to avoid bombs."

But as US forces intensified their bombing of Baghdad, almost all who operated the missiles abandoned the launchers, rendering the messenger's job irrelevant. "I think the last time he came was April 5," said Mehdi, 38.

The Republican Guard's system of defense, massing its men in concentric rings around Baghdad, also proved disastrous.

"We had four concentric circles of defense. But when the US moved up through the desert, we were told to go back into the cities," said Lieutenant Colonel Tariq Mohammed, 36, of the Republican Guard's crack Medina Division, based in Suwayrah, about 35 miles southwest of Baghdad. "The huge mistake was moving the Republican Guards all the time. The soldiers were exhausted."

By early April, most of the division's soldiers had drifted off. On April 6, Mohammed simply got into his car and drove to Baghdad.


This, or something like it is a popular headline over the last couple of days. Fairly sensational, isn't it?

And I believe the fact that it does sound a bit sensational reveals a flaw in the general expectations following the major combat of this war.

You see, you've seen these words before...but perhaps they didn't take root.

The war is not over.

We are still at war.

What we are doing is not peacekeeping. In some areas, there is no peace to keep.

And while we are making progress toward a better Iraq, the jihadists of this world are now seeing fit to make Iraq the battlefield.

We are still at war.

One regrets, but is not surprised over fatalities in war. So, if the headline surprises you perhaps you need to revise your thinking about what it is our troops are doing in Iraq.

More American troops have now died since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1 than were killed fighting the war in Iraq.

After a bomb killed a soldier this morning on a highway northwest of Baghdad, the death toll since the end of major combat operations exceeded the number killed during the war, according to the Pentagon. The soldier was the 139th member of the armed services to die since the formal declaration of the end of major combat operations. During the war in March and April, 138 died...

Of the 138 soldiers who died during the war, most died in combat. The Pentagon classified 116 of the deaths as "hostile" and the remaining 22 as "nonhostile," a category that includes deaths due to illness and noncombat accidents.

Since May 1, most of the deaths have been in the nonhostile category — a total of 78, including the roadside accident today. The remaining 62 deaths were in combat situations like the bomb attack.


I almost didn't post this as it seemed beyond the bounds of possiblity. However a quick internet search seems to confirm this practice..
She was known as a gentle and pious woman who had been married to a textile merchant in Baghdad's most exclusive neighborhood. But the war, friends told the man, had left her widowed and destitute. Two months ago, the man approached Ahmed with a proposal: her body in exchange for $15 a month, plus groceries and clothes for the children.

"Don't worry," he told her. "It's not a sin."

Ahmed's hands shook and her face reddened with shame as she signed a one-year contract for a muta'a, a temporary marriage recognized only by Shiite Muslims. Like many Shiite practices, muta'a was banned under the Sunni Muslim regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Now, hundreds of Shiite women who lost their husbands and livelihoods in the war that toppled Saddam are resurrecting the practice.

"What I did was not wrong, but I regret this marriage with all my heart," Ahmed said. "It's ruined my relationship with my children. My son calls me a bad woman, a prostitute. They have no idea I did this for their sake, so I can have money to spend on them."

Clerics who support muta'a say the practice offers sexual and financial freedom to widows. Iraqi women's advocates, however, speak out against what they call the economic enslavement of women prevented by custom from working outside the home. The practice occurs in such secrecy and with such a social stigma that no one can give a firm figure on the number of muta'a contracts that have been signed since the war ended last spring, though estimates stretch into the low thousands...

Muta'a emerged at the time of Prophet Muhammad, who sanctioned it as a way to ensure the financial security of widows and divorcees during times of war. Later generations of Islamic rulers disagreed on continuing the practice. Sunnis condemned it as outdated and easy to abuse, while most Shiites maintained that banning anything the prophet allowed was heresy, Islamic scholars said...

"After the war, this type of marriage increased because of the number of widows, especially those with children," said Hazem al Araji, a religious authority and keeper of one of the Shiite holy shrines in Baghdad. "How else can they support their families?"...

"He is not obliged to pay her anything more, and he can't have sex with her until the money is paid up front," al Shadidi said. "Sometimes the payment is only symbolic; other times it's a kilo of gold. Only widows are desperate enough to accept this arrangement. It's done in secret, but it's not forbidden."

Around the corner from al Shadidi's marketplace office, 26-year-old Ahmed Risouli scanned the crowd outside his gold shop for women in mourning clothes who dared to meet his gaze. Risouli said he "can't remember how many times" he's entered into a muta'a and boasted of a surefire way to lure cash-strapped widows.

"From first sight, I can tell whether a woman will accept muta'a or not," Risouli said. "I'll give her roses and invite her to expensive restaurants. When she's weak, I kiss her and we talk about the terms of a muta'a. The only problem I have with this marriage is that the woman always falls in love with me. I tell her, `For G-d's sake! It was a deal for two days!'"

I suppose it goes without saying that societies in which women are suppressed are societies in which such predatory practices will survive.
By 2004, perhaps 90 percent of USAREUR units will have been to Iraq, most notably from the Army’s two forward-based divisions, the 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division. As a result, Army combat-arms soldiers in Europe have a 100 percent chance they will be deployed for at least six months, and more likely a year, from now until 2005.


The "Bandits" are among our own...home based here in Friedberg.
“The Bandits” — The 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment — live on Baghdad Island, a small spit of land in northern Baghdad that extends into the Tigris River.

As military encampments go, it’s one of the roughest in Baghdad — “maybe a three or four on a scale of one to 10,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commander of the Wiesbaden, Germany-based 1st Armored Division, told the Bandits during an Aug. 9 visit to the camp in 135-degree heat.

Every night, the Bandits go to sleep in their hot, stuffy tents to the sound of small-arms fire. Tracers make their way in the skies above.

And when the Bandits leave their compound on patrols, raids or supply runs, sometimes they don’t come back.

So it was no surprise to Dempsey that one of the first questions asked during his visit was “Sir, who is attacking us?”

Dempsey was characteristically blunt.

Right now, it’s former Saddam loyalists and criminals who are angry at U.S. troops’ attempts to interfere with their lawlessness. But all that’s about to change, he said.

The new enemy is terrorists, he warned. They all know the Americans are in Iraq, and the “they all want to try and get a piece of you.”

“Regional extremists are even now flocking to Baghdad because [in their eyes], it’s the superbowl,” Dempsey said. “They’re coming here now and starting to get organized.”

Dempsey is warning his troops to get ready for an enemy “that wants to make a big, big splash, like dropping the Palestine,” a major hotel where many Westerners live.

August 26, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-53



BAGHDAD, Iraq – One 3rd Corps Support Command soldier was killed and two wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on a military convoy near the town of Hamariyah at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 26.

The soldiers were transported to the 28th Combat Support Hospital for treatment.

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

August 26, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-54



A 4th Infantry Division soldier died as a result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident between Tikrit and Forward Operating Base Anaconda in Balad at approximately 6:40 p.m. on Aug. 25.

The vehicle the soldier was riding in had a flat tire causing the convoy to stop along side the road to replace the flat. While changing the tire, a passing Iraqi vehicle was involved in a traffic collision, which caused it to spin out of control and strike the soldier.

The soldier was evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital for treatment. The soldier died of injuries received at approximately 10 p.m.

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

August 26, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-55



BAGHDAD, Iraq - A 130th Engineer Brigade Soldier died on August 25 from a non-hostile gunshot wound.

The soldier was evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital, where he later died.

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

The incident is under investigation.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27th. The 108th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


And I'm glad for it. However, it is located at the Baghdad International Airport.

That is where the 1st Armored Division Headquarters is located. The airport - the one that already houses a bunch of other amenities for the troops, including Baghdad's largest PX and even a Burger King, if I'm not mistaken.

That is NOT where the troops doing the grunt work are. That is not where most of the soldiers who spend hours on patrol or standing guard are living.

I'm sure there are good reasons for putting it there...but at this point it is hard to argue against the impression that where the Generals and Colonels and Sergeants Major are, so too are the perks.
The mess hall is one of the Army’s biggest and was built in the center of Baghdad’s airport in about a month. The 502-foot-long facility is spacious enough inside to include an entire football field with room to spare.

Enormous air conditioners help cool the inside when temperatures reach 130 degrees. The facility is designed to feed 8,000 people per meal, said dining facility manager Robert Sarbiewski, who works for the U.S.-based company Kellogg, Brown & Root. The place will serve four meals a day, meaning as many as 32,000 meals will be served each day.

One half of the dome is eating area. The center is the kitchen. The opposite end will be reserved for United Services Organization entertainment tours. Nearly 200 workers cook the food under the guidance of U.S. chefs.


Troops not impressed much with local aggressors.
Iraqi guerrillas waging low-level attacks on American occupying forces are poorly organised, militarily incompetent
and quick to run, scornful U.S. commanders say.

"The enemy tactics are 'miss and run'," said Colonel James Hickey, whose brigade controls the restive area round Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit.

"They're almost running when they pull the trigger."

And note that the Iraqi's did this under the Governing Council.
Iraq took one step closer to regaining electrical stability following an Aug. 25 meeting facilitated by the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

Dr. Karim, Iraqi director, Commission of Electricity negotiated the purchase of an additional 50 megawatts of electricity a day from Turkish Karadeniz Energy Company. Coalition Provision Authority deputy director of Infrastructure Stephen Browning, and senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Gary Vogler, also attended.

The purchase adds extra power critical to the country while its electrical infrastructure is being repaired. Electrical power substations were a key target of sabotage during the war. Additionally, looting after the war left many structures in disrepair.
While many Iraqi women are hoping for a way to improve life in Baghdad, one found it. Ask 28-year-old Baghdad mother and resident Zahra Hadi about how her life has changed and she'll tell you about her new job.

She is the first female to wear the uniform of an Iraqi corrections guard -- the only female to wear any kind of police uniform.

Hadi completed a one-week corrections course at the Iraqi Public Service Academy, Aug. 14 and entered two weeks of on the job training with 33 other graduates.

"Not even Baghdad's police department has a female working with them, so this is a bit of history in the making," said Gary De Land, senior adviser to the Iraqi Corrections Service.

The training classes were held by Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority Department of Prisons. Instructors from the 800th Military Police Brigade provided guidance in the training and curriculum, and assisted in the selection process.

Hadi was a mother and housekeeper living in Baghdad. Her day consisted of house cleaning, caring for her 7-month-old son and preparing meals for her husband. She used to work part time selling tropical fish and setting flower arrangements for weddings.

But when the Department of Prisons ran an ad looking for new prison guards, Hadi knew it was time for her dream of equality to come true.

"I've wanted to do this all my life. I always wanted equality with men. I like competing in a man's world," said Hani. "I think I'm just as smart, and I can do most of those things men can do."

And now, she said smiling, "I can work as a corrections guard, and I know I will practice what I learned on how to be a professional and be treated with respect."

But I'm not sure that will help the communications with CPT Patti and crew.
The main contractor in charge of rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq has awarded struggling Lucent Technologies Inc. a $25 million contract for the emergency repair and rehabilitation of the communications network in Iraq, the companies announced Monday.

The contract is aimed at restoring service in Baghdad, where 240,000 of 540,000 telephone lines are out of service, according to Lucent and Bechtel National Inc. of San Francisco.

Before the war, about 1.1 million Iraqis subscribed to the Iraqi Telephone and Post Co. for landline telephone service. But even then, because of bombing in the first Gulf War and disrepair from trade sanctions, the network was estimated to require need $1 billion in repairs over seven to 10 years.

A leading Iraqi-American businessman said yesterday that he and others who were cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition had received a series of written warnings of an attack days before the bombing last week of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

At least one additional message threatening more attacks has been received since the bombing Tuesday that killed 23 persons, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq, the businessman said.

The warnings, typed in Arabic and English, named several targets, including the Palestine, Rasheed and Ishtar-Sheraton hotels, where U.S. and other foreign nationals are known to work, said Rubar Sandi, who just returned to Washington from his third trip to Iraq since the spring.

A very well written look at Iraq through the lens of Beirut. Read it all.
Americans are strangers in Iraq. There is something both noble and heartbreaking about those embattled young soldiers standing sentry in what for them must be an incomprehensible place. The habits of empire are not innately American.

It may have been unduly ambitious to think that America could pull off in Iraq what it did in Germany and Japan after World War II. The Islamic world is particularly raw about strangers and their gifts -- and their presence.

But the bloodletting should not deter America from the more limited, but still noteworthy, goal of an Iraq that bids farewell to political terror at home and to its rampaging ways in its neighborhood.

The terror now unleashed seeks to drown the political question, to trump it with issues of physical security. The aim is to frighten the Iraqi people and to turn them away from this new order and its possibilities. Where people huddle in fear, more lofty goals of liberty and participatory politics die.

The analogy is not perfect, but that is exactly what unfolded in Beirut.


So now there are two different groups claiming responsibility for the UN bombing.

Yep - no honor among thieves, as they say.

The latest says it is a member of Al Qaeda.
A statement posted on the Internet in the name of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network has claimed responsibility for an attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad last week that killed 23 people, including the head of mission.
The statement's authenticity could not be verified. On Thursday, an Arabic television channel reported a previously unknown Iraqi group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Written in heavily symbolic and oblique language, the statement was signed by Brigades of Abu Hafs al-Masri and followed by the words al Qaeda in parentheses.

It referred to a previous warning issued on August 15 in which it said it would "exhaust and confuse" America and its "henchmen."

"We meant that we would carry out such a lethal and surprising attack that the enemy will not know where, when and how we will strike," the statement said.

"So why the United Nations? Number one, the United Nations (is against Islam), it is a branch of the American State Department and it wears the robes of an international organization.

"The double standard policies of the United Nations are against Arabs and Muslims. This issue does not need to be proved. It is clear like the light of the sun at midday," the statement said.

The statement called U.N. envoy to Iraq, Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello, "America's number one man."

I'm sorry - did I say two groups? No, I should have said three.

One commits evil, and lots of others want the credit. An apt description of the Arab world from where I sit.

...At least two other unconfirmed claims of responsibility have surfaced.

The first was a statement sent to the Arab television station Al-Arabiya last week, signed by a previously unknown group, the ''Armed Vanguards of the Second Muhammad Army.'' The other was in a tape broadcast Saturday by the Lebanese television station LBC from a group calling itself ''Muhammad's Army.''

TUESDAY, AUGUST 26th. The 107th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Monday, August 25, 2003

For the first time since the all-volunteer Army began in 1973, significant numbers of U.S. combat soldiers may have to start serving back-to-back overseas tours of up to a year each in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea, top Army officers say.

Grappling with large, simultaneous deployments around the world, Army planners are trying to determine how many troops will have to serve extra tours. Based on the forces they must keep in place overseas, planners have concluded they will have no choice but to force thousands of troops to return to new overseas assignment after only a short time at home. Currently, troops can deploy with their families for years to places such as Germany or Japan, but they go to war zones or potential war zones such as Iraq or Korea without their families and typically serve there no more than a year.

"The Army is monitoring the situation," says Maj. Steve Stover, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. "But we will do everything in our power to prevent back-to-back deployments."

Army officials are worried that the added tours will lower morale and cause a wave of exits throughout the Army. A key concern is that the deployments will cause an exodus of experienced, mid-career veterans such as sergeants, staff sergeants and captains, who are harder to replace than younger soldiers.

With war and death on his mind, Spc. Barry Page was baptized Sunday in the Tigris River by an Army chaplain at the sprawling U.S. military headquarters on the fabled river's banks.

A Southern Baptist working as a military policeman, Page said he decided to "reannounce his life to Christ" in the birthplace of civilization.

"I realized death is walking in this place," said the 22-year-old from Houston, his uniform and boots soaking wet. "It can be any of us. Next time it could be me."

The temperature was 120 as Page and three other soldiers waited outside one of Saddam Hussein's palatial complexes to take their turn in the water. The baptism took place behind the palace, where the river waters surround an artificial island overgrown with palm trees.

"This ground has a historical, biblical meaning," Page said. "I can say I was in the same waters. I'm glad I found peace with God."


The debate continues.
In the wake of the bombing of U.N. headquarters in Iraq, and with fatalities among U.S. forces continuing to mount, key lawmakers are suggesting that more U.S. troops may be needed to quell what has become a guerrilla war.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says no more U.S. troops are needed, but a number of military experts think the Pentagon might soon run out of combat soldiers to send in any case.

"I don't think any of us anticipated the amount and sophistication of these attacks," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in an interview from Iraq hours after the U.N. bombing Tuesday. "I think they may need more people, both in the military generally and perhaps here on the ground."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, agreed: "I'm increasingly concerned we don't have enough soldiers and Marines to do all the jobs that must be done."

The Bush administration is currently focused on getting additional troops from other countries -- some 20,000 are now active in Iraq -- and on training more Iraqis to take over security duties.

If these efforts are not successful, however, and if the violence does not subside so that 40,000 to 50,000 troops can be withdrawn by next spring or summer, the U.S. Army could be seriously overstretched, analysts say.

"Rumsfeld and the Army are taking a gamble every bit as audacious as the war plan against Saddam Hussein," said retired Army Lt. Col. Andrew Krepinovich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budget Alternatives, a think tank in Washington, D.C. "They are betting that somehow they will break the back of the resistance by early next year."

Retired Army Maj. Gen. William Nash, who commanded U.S. peacekeepers in Kosovo, said an additional four brigades (about 25,000 combat troops) are needed to supplement the 146,000 U.S. troops already in Iraq.

As the area around Baghdad endured a week of repeated violence, a happier scene unfolded in this city, a two-hour drive to the south.

American soldiers, without helmets or flak jackets, attended graduation ceremonies of the Diwaniya University Medical School. At ease with the Iraqi students and their parents, the American marines laughed, joked and posed in photographs. One by one, the students walked up to thank them, for Marine doctors had taught classes in surgery and gynecology and helped draw up the final exams.

"We like the Americans very much here," said Zainab Khaledy, 22, who received her medical degree last Sunday. "We feel better than under the old regime. We have problems, like security, but everything is getting better."

Such is the dual reality that is coming to define the American enterprise in Iraq, a country increasingly divided between those willing to put up with the American occupation and those determined to fight it. While the areas stretching west and north from Baghdad roil and burn, much of the rest of the country remains, most of the time, remarkably calm. [On Saturday, three British soldiers were killed in the south, in Basra.]

Rather than fight the Americans, most Iraqis appear to be readily accepting the benefits of a wide-ranging reconstruction.


The media lash out over death of their own.
Mazen's death came just days after a U.S. military inquiry exonerated a tank crew for firing on a Baghdad hotel housing journalists on April 8, killing a Ukrainian-born Reuters cameraman and a Spanish cameraman. The investigation concluded the tank crew had reason to believe hostile forces were using the building to direct fire on the Americans.

That is little comfort to the families of those killed. They don't believe the Pentagon's version. Many of the 100 journalists in the hotel that day deny the tank crew came under any fire. ...

How many journalists will be killed or hurt by U.S. armed forces in Iraq before the Pentagon carries out a public investigation that does more than whitewash the "shoot first, ask later" actions of its troops?

Unless the Pentagon accepts responsibility for the mistakes of its soldiers and punishes recklessness, the message it is sending to journalists is clear: We have little regard for you unless you're embedded with our troops, where we can keep an eye on you.

I am amazed. Is there any other group of people in the world who believe they have the ability to walk through a war zone without occasionally having that war affect them?

There are a few truths about war that are worth remembering, chief among those is that in war people die.

Of course, from the troops perspective you really hope that those people are the enemy. But sometimes they are not.

Hell, sometime they are our own, killed by our own by so-called friendly fire. It's why soldiers' black humor includes lines such as "Remember, friendly fire isn't."

And if, in spite of our best training and technology, not to mention motivation not to shoot our own, friendly fire still happens, then how in the world can the media expect that they are exposed day after day without danger of the same?

Let's put this in a little bit of perspective. Twelve months ago "Jimmy" just finished summer school to earn the final credits for his high-school diploma. Since then he has been to basic training and advanced individual training and then, lo and behold, he got himself shipped off to war.

Every day he faces an unseen enemy, one that wears civilian clothes and might be any one of the 5 million Iraqi faces staring back at him in downtown Baghdad.

Last week "Jimmy" lost his buddy "Tommy". Tommy took the brunt of the improvised explosive device (Army speak for a bomb made by hand). Tommy was two days shy of his 19th birthday.

Jimmy might have been driving the Humvee that day instead of Tommy, but the 1SG pulled Jimmy for ammunition detail.

Jimmy is nervous. Jimmy is tired. Jimmy is armed. Jimmy is trying to deal with the 130 degree heat, but he is wrapped up in his US Army Desert Cammouflage know, the one that shouts "aim at me, I'm with the US Army", and he is sweating his ass off. Jimmy is trying to figure out just how in the hell he got himself here in the first place.

And then, all of a sudden, Jimmy is on patrol. He is "on point". "Point" is the tip of the spear. Point is where the enemy probably sees you before you see him. Point is where, if things go bad, you have a life expectancy of about 1.5 seconds.

Jimmy is a soldier. Jimmy is in a war zone. Jimmy is carrying a loaded weapon. Jimmy is authorized to kill. Jimmy is trying to follow all of the rules of engagement, but in the end the rules of engagement come down to a judgement call by Jimmy. And in the end, the rules of engagement are not quite as instinctive as the rule of self-preservation.

Mr. Media Man, in old black and white movies we know who you are by the large card marked "Press" protruding from the brim of your fedora. But you no longer wear a fedora. In fact, you dress just like the folks who want to kill Jimmy.

Mr. Media Man, you are on a floor fairly high up in a hotel. Jimmy and his platoon have the enemy on the run in an urban environment. Where do they go? Jimmy doesn't know, but if they have a modicum of military training they will seek "the high ground". The high ground is where the tactical advantage is. And the high ground, Mr. Media Man, looks a lot like a hotel balcony on an urban battlefield.

Mr. Medial Man, you are carrying something large and pointy. You raise it to your shoulder. From here it looks like a shoulder fired weapon. Unfortunately for us both, Mr. Meda Man, the maximum effective range of an RPG exceeds the maximum effective range of Jimmy's eyeballs to differentiate between an RPG and a camera. And then, what do you do? You point that shoulder mounted whatever it is at Jimmy.

Jimmy is nervous. Jimmy is tired. Jimmy is in a war zone. Jimmy is a soldier. Jimmy is armed.

Now, Mr. Media Man, why don't you tell me rationally who it is not exercising sound judgement here.

Mr. Media Man, when you have been at it 106 days in a row with no days off, reminded everyday that simply because of the uniform you put on this day might jolly well be your last because people out there intend to harm you...Mr. Media Man, then we will compare your actions, and reactions to those of Jimmy.

But frankly sir, this is our battle space. You asked to be here. It is dangerous. Deal with it.

One more point to consider. It is hard to quantify such things, but for the sake of argument, lets assume every US soldier in Iraq has had to make the shoot/don't shoot decision once per day since the 1st of May. That is 147,000 decisions per day for 117 days.

In all that time US Soldiers killed one journalist.

That means with respect to journalists the US Soldiers have been right 99.99999% of the time.
Eager to have more Iraqis take responsibility for their country's security, American officials here are planning to ferry as many as 28,000 Iraqis to Eastern Europe for an intensive police training course.

Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City Police commissioner in charge of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said in an interview that American officials had secured permission from the government of Hungary to set up a large police academy inside an old Soviet military base there.

Mr. Kerik said the extraordinary measures were necessary because the existing police academies in Iraq were not large enough to train that many officers in the next several months.

His plan is part of a larger effort by senior American officials here to press the Iraqis to take a greater share in running the country. The Bush administration is also under growing political pressure at home to lighten the load on the American forces here.

"We want to turn Iraqi security over to the Iraqis," Mr. Kerik said. "This is the only way to do it quickly."

He said the prospective Iraqi officers would receive eight weeks of intensive training by Americans in Hungary and then return to Iraq. Early this year, the site was also used to train a group of Iraqi volunteers to work with American troops.

After the men return from training, they would be given four to six months of on-the-job instruction, similar to the training officers undergo in the United States.

IT is one of the most striking signals that there’s a growing belief among investors that economic recovery in the world’s largest economy, the United States, is now well under way.

Over the past month, the dollar has fought back strongly against the euro in global markets. The US currency has just hit a four-month high. The surging euro, which peaked at $1.19 in May, is now below $1.09 and falling.

With signs of recovery across Europe still limp and unconvincing – we now know that Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were all in technical recession in the first six months of this year – the single currency’s retreat may have some way to go yet.

Currency traders are clearly buying dollars in expectation that recovery in the US is obviously taking root. That’s always what currency traders do. Perversely, their actions may have a self-fulfilling impact on their downbeat assessment of recovery prospects in the euro-zone.

The euro is down 9% against the American currency in the past two months alone.

This is good news for those of us who get paid in dollars, but spend Euros.

Of course, what the story doesn't tell you is that the dollar was down over 30% against the euro over the last 18 months.

So a 9% gain isn't that big a deal.
August 24, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-50



BAGHDAD, Iraq - A 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldier died on August 23 from a non-hostile gunshot wound.

The soldier was evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital, where he later died.

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

August 24, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-51



AR RAMADI, Iraq – A soldier from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment drowned in the Euphrates River at approximately 8:30 p.m. Aug. 23 near the Hadithah Dam, west of Ar Ramadi.

After a thorough search of the area the soldier’s body was found and positively identified at approximately 11 a.m. Aug. 24.

The soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
MONDAY, AUGUST 25th. The 106th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

And 4 months until Christmas day.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

The US army has opened the first unrestricted internet access in Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit in a bid to convince sceptical Iraqis their occupation will bring tangible benefits.

"This internet cafe we are inaugurating gives people in Tikrit for the first time total freedom of access to the web," Major Troy Rader, in charge of the project, told Reuters.

"It is one of many reconstruction projects we are doing here to help local people," he added at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Tikrit, closely guarded by troops.

Local residents said internet access prior to the toppling of Saddam was restricted to government-approved sites and was closely monitored by state security services.

Though many Iraqis are suspicions of US motives - saying the troops are there to secure oil and take out Saddam loyalists rather than rebuild the nation - Tikritis enthusiastically welcomed the internet cafe.

"Before, we had no free email, no chat, no good information, no connection with the world," cafe user Asim Abdullah said. "We were in a big jail."