FROM THE CIA WEBSITE
Excerpts from Mr. Kay's interim report on WMDs in Iraq.
I'll scrub it more thoroughly later.
We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG has discovered that should have been declared to the UN...
A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research.
A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.
Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.
New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN...
One noteworthy example is a collection of reference strains that ought to have been declared to the UN. Among them was a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced. This discovery - hidden in the home of a BW scientist - illustrates the point I made earlier about the difficulty of locating small stocks of material that can be used to covertly surge production of deadly weapons. The scientist who concealed the vials containing this agent has identified a large cache of agents that he was asked, but refused, to conceal. ISG is actively searching for this second cache.
Check the headlines in the news today...most will say something on the order of "Report Says No WMD Found."
Like - "Hey, did you find any cookies in the kitchen?"
"No - there's nothing there but some flour, some butter, a little baking powder, a lot of sugar and a few chocolate chips. But there ain't any cookies..."
FRENCH WEAPONS...BUILT THIS YEAR AND FOUND, GUESS WHERE
With friends like these...
Polish troops in Iraq have found four French-built advanced anti-aircraft missiles which were built this year, a Polish Defence Ministry spokesman told Reuters on Friday.
France strongly denied having sold any such missiles to Iraq for nearly two decades, and said it was impossible that its newest missiles should turn up in Iraq.
''Polish troops discovered an ammunition depot on September 29 near the region of Hilla and there were four French-made Roland-type missiles,'' Defence Ministry spokesman Eugeniusz Mleczak said.
''It is not the first time Polish troops found ammunition in Iraq but to our surprise these missiles were produced in 2003.''
HELP FROM THE HOME FRONT
The current Chief Wiggles is an Army intelligence officer serving in Iraq who maintains a Web log, or blog, at, http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com . His blog has described a need for toys to give Iraqi children, to help improve their lives and show them that the U.S. is not only about guns and tanks.
Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne said, "A few weeks ago an airman stationed in Afghanistan wrote me describing the bleak living conditions for U.S. service personnel serving there, asking if we could send anything that would improve their quality of life. We wrote back, suggesting he poll his colleagues and place a $50,000 order 'on the house.' They did: oddly, the order was for 100 portable DVD players and three copies each of every action movie I'd ever seen."
Byrne continued, "Then last weekend my cousin, Jim Byrne, let me know about Chief Wiggles, pointing out that it appeared people at home wanted to assist Wiggles but were having trouble with the logistics. I contacted Chief Wiggles and he agreed to act as an intermediary, not just for toys for Iraqi children, but for any other products that people in the U.S. eager to support our men and women in Iraq, may wish to send."
Byrne said, "We realize that many American people are eager to do something to help Iraqi children and our own troops. This is an easy way for Americans to get online, click, and let us do the work to make sure it gets to our men and women serving in Iraq and to the needy children there."
Good idea. By the way, here is the link to the overstock.com website explaining the program.
SEEMS LIKE GOOD ADVICE TO ME
The alternative? Mr. Bush should go to Baghdad, at the earliest possible moment.
By so doing, the president will have an opportunity to see for himself the facts on the ground. Having just returned myself from a trip to Iraq and meetings with most of the senior civilian and military personnel in the theater, I can attest that there is simply no better way to take stock of the conditions that exist — and those that are being brought about, thanks to ever-more-effective collaboration between U.S. and Coalition personnel and the Iraqis.
Mr. Bush's personal visit will also afford him a truly unique opportunity to convey a surpassingly important message to both our troops and the people they are helping to experience and secure freedom: We are unalterably committed to realizing that goal.
A presidential trip to Baghdad will also compel the American and international media to address the real progress being made on the ground in Iraq — not just the random attacks there and other over-reported setbacks. It should be accompanied by a call for news organizations once again to embed journalists with Coalition forces, ensuring that their success in securing the peace is as faithfully and as accurately covered as their success in winning it.
The Morale, Welfare and Recreation program is bringing 145 cyber cafes, many in mobile tents, to areas with high troop density. The other 32 cafes will be set up in community centers at more permanent camps, said Army Maj. Jonathan Sirmon, deputy MWR programs officer for Coalition Joint Task Force-7 in Baghdad...
Most of the 130,000 troops in Iraq “should be within a reasonable time or distance to get to one,” he said in a phone interview from Camp Victory.
Troops don’t have to pay for Internet use at the cafes, which will have about 20 computers each, more than 3,500 total.
The 32 community center sites will have Dell personal computers with CyberCams and microphones, from which troops can provide streaming videos of themselves.
“It’s pretty much like a private video teleconference,” Sirmon said.
The other 145 cafes will have Gateway laptops and eight voice-over-Internet phones for personal use. Using an access code, troops and their loved ones will be able to purchase phone minutes online at www.oif-mwr.net starting in about two weeks.
The equipment is arriving in Iraq, and the first cafes will be set up in the next two weeks, Sirmon said. He estimated that all the cafes will be operational by January. Condon said he hoped the cafes were running by the end of November.
“It’s difficult to move in the theater, we have to get them out as far as possible as we can … a lot depends on how fast the equipment comes in,” Sirmon said.
Sirmon estimated the cost to be about $20 million in mission-essential appropriated funds.
It’s money well spent to improve troop morale, said Ann Bergstrom, contingency operations manager for G-1, the U.S. Army Europe division based in Heidelberg, Germany, that takes care of personnel issues such as MWR for deployed servicemembers...
She said she hopes the cafes are all up and running by the holidays.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4th. The 146th day of CPT Patti's deployment.
"THEY JUST NEED SOME MONEY..."
"I'm amazed," he says of the Iraqi professionals. "Their doctors are well-trained, professional, but they operate with nothing. They don't want my help and don't need it. They just need some money for drug and equipment, and maybe more than three hours of power in a row, and they can handle this themselves."
The officers on this patrol seem clear, the U.S. occupation of Iraq will not succeed based on bringing firepower to bear on the anti-U.S. resistance that shoots mortar rounds at their base almost every night. It will succeed if the United States can improve the day-to-day lives of the people of Youssiya before they become convinced the invasion to remove Saddam was not motivated by Zionist conspiracies or the need for oil.
The enlisted men on the other hand have been fighting in Iraq since March and deployed in the Middle East since January. And no amount of bravery or patriotism, which they certainly radiate, can compensate for 100-plus degree heat, constant sniping and a long separation from their families.
"Why in the hell would you come here," one young machinegun-toting infantryman -- who looks all of 12 years old -- asks a reporter from the top of his Humvee. "We wanted to free Iraq. Saddam's gone, but I got to stay until January?"
But despite some grumbling about a mission more suited for a charity or a non-governmental organization, the infantry guys acknowledge they are more worried about a combat mission scheduled for the 3 a.m. the next day.
"This is easy," says one. "It's hot and I don't like being out on this street for this long. But what we're doing tonight -- it's a raid on something we don't even know yet -- that (stuff) is intense ... scary."
BAGHDAD OK FOR SOFTWARE COMPANY...
But still not safe enough for the UN.
Diwan Software Limited, one of the largest Middle Eastern software companies, is pleased to announce the opening of its new office in Baghdad, Iraq under the name of Diwan-Raqueam...
"Iraq has a pool of some of the most competent and motivated experts in the whole of the Middle East," said Adil Allawi, Diwan's Technical Director. He further stated, "Diwan's Baghdad office is harnessing this ability to create an Iraqi company that will compete not only in Iraq but in the world market as well.
UP CLOSE WITH THE 2d ACR
These guys area borders that of the 1st Brigade.
In a way, the soldiers' biggest problem here in Sader City is boredom. The 2nd Cav is six months into a year-long tour. They gripe that the 1st AD is scheduled to go home first even though it arrived after they did. I suggest jokingly that they stage a protest in front of the Palestine Hotel.
"Yeah, that's perfect," says one soldier. "We'll carry signs that say: Go Home, Me!'"
Read the whole story here.
1550 ROCKETS CAPTURED
US troops pursuing two wounded assailants in the Baghdad area found two trucks loaded with hundreds of rockets and a detonator that indicated they were being used to make a bomb, according to the Pentagon.
General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed the find at a news conference here, telling reporters 14 people were detained in the neighbourhood where the trucks were found Wednesday.
US snipers wounded two people who were preparing to fire a mortar, and then followed them to a compound, he said.
"A search of that compound and the neighbourhood resulted in finding those individuals along with 12 other Iraqis, and while patrolling these side streets they found two trucks," he said.
"One was filled with 800 57mm rockets and the other truck with 750 rockets," he said.
"And as they attempted to push further, an apparent detonating device was found as well."
"The explosives ordnance teams diagnosed these rockets as a potential bomb that were in a pre-assembly state," he said.
The news that gas prices would remain stable for AAFES customers was apparently wrong.
Prices will go up even as the bottom is falling out back in the USA.
And, curiously, gas purchased through the Naval Exchange system will not be going up.
Some servicemembers expressed disappointment, but not surprise, at news that Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials would raise gas prices in the coming days.
Late Wednesday, AAFES announced fuel prices would rise starting Sunday. The news came less than a week after AAFES officials said they would freeze prices while the overseas fuel pricing policy was being reviewed.
Gasoline and diesel fuel prices at AAFES facilities in Germany will increase from $1.79 to $1.85 for regular unleaded.
“It’s aggravating,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Wills, from Ramstein Air Base. “First they say they have to raise prices to subsidize diapers, then they say they can’t lower the prices because it’s locked in from the beginning of the year.
“Then we see headlines that prices in the States have dropped 10 cents a gallon,” Wills said.
“What bothers me is they’re not up-front about it,” he said.
While fuel prices went up at AAFES gas stations, they will stay the same at Navy Exchange facilities. Gas coupon prices in Italy did not go up, said an employee with the Naples’ Tax Free Office, which runs the gas coupon program.
Wills said that he recently took a trip to Naval Station Rota, Spain, where gas is distributed by the Navy Exchange. The NEX gas station had a plywood placard telling customers what the prices were in dollars per gallon, Wills said.
“Why can’t AAFES do that?” he asked. “[Americans] think of gas in dollars per gallon, so when they see 47 cents per liter, it doesn’t mean anything.
“[AAFES] should just be honest and tell us what the price is in dollars per gallon.”
Had enough? Here is the AAFES "Feedback" phone number: 1-800-527-2345.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 3d. The 145th day of CPT Patti's deployment.
Posting may be light today - If the weather holds I'll be away from the computer most of the day.
A few weeks ago we covered the story of the congressman incensed that soldiers leaving the hospital after being wounded in Iraq were being "billed" for meals eaten in the hospital.
I explained that wasn't exactly the story...
Here is an update.
Thanks to Congress there just might be such a thing as a free lunch after all...
Wounded service members in U.S. military hospitals will no longer be presented with a bill for meals upon discharge, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
The idea -- not precisely true, as it turned out -- that U.S. troops, some of whom had lost limbs or were gravely wounded, were being charged $8.10 per day for meals while they were in military hospitals outraged some members of Congress.
What was happening was that the wounded patients were being asked to reimburse the government for what is known as their basic subsistence allowance -- money they get in their paychecks to cover meals.
Because they did not have to buy meals in the hospital, they were asked to return that allowance, a step required by law.
But Pentagon officials admit it seemed like adding insult to injury.
Congress quickly changed the law, and effective Wednesday active-duty military patients will get meals free and be allowed to keep their meal allowance.
A spokesman at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington said the hospital has been averaging about 40 patients from the war in Iraq, so the financial impact amounts to about $324 a day.
In addition to military personnel wounded in action, the law also applies to those hurt while "engaged in hazardous service" or "in the performance of duty under conditions simulating war."
It is already the case that some troops in combat get meals and get to keep their allowance.
Technically it's double-dipping, but the amount of money is small, and no one at the Pentagon wants to nickel and dime the troops who put their lives on the line.
Way off topic...but rich...very rich.
The Hartford Courant Newspaper reported the National Do Not Call list included the numbers of eleven executives with a telemarketing industry group that is fighting the registry.
SOMETHING DOESN'T ADD UP HERE
Because on an ordinary day wouldn't we call these WMDs?
Kuwaiti security authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical weapons and biological warheads from Iraq to an unnamed European country, a Kuwaiti newspaper said on Wednesday.
The pro-Government Al-Siyassah, quoting an unnamed security source, said the suspects had been watched by security since they arrived in Kuwait and were arrested "in due time." It did not say when or how the smugglers entered Kuwait or when they were arrested.
Both headlines below are taken from today's news. Anyone else notice the irony here?
UN slashes staff in Iraq
U.S. circulates new Iraq resolution calling for strengthened U.N. role
"SADDAM WAS POSITIVELY INSANE"
Says who? Uh...his doctor.
"Saddam did not have any problem with genies or devils possessing him," says Said Abu Yassir. "Saddam was positively insane."
And after five years as Saddam's personal traditional healer and mystic, Abu Yassir would know.
"It was mostly Uday's behavior that affected Saddam's (mental) situation the most," he said. "His sons, mostly Uday, made him crazy."
SELF(ISHLY) INFLICTED WOUNDS
The next time someone complains that the US "can't even get the power turned back on", consider this.
Saboteurs who toppled 500 electric transmission towers across Iraq are not just looters or insurgents, but apparently also utility workers or others in outlying regions who want to deny power to Baghdad and keep it for themselves, U.S. and Iraqi engineers and officials report.
Provincial cities are turning the tables after years under Saddam Hussein when they were starved of power so the capital could burn watts around the clock, these sources say.
"I know that Karbala and Hillah toppled the towers so as not to share with others," said a leading Iraqi electrical engineer, Baghdad University's Nihad Mohammed al-Rawi, referring to two southern cities.
THE NATURE OF THE BEAST
If charges of accepting bribes are true it isn't hard to understand. It was the only way any policework has been done in Iraq for nearly 30 years.
So we still have a ways to go.
A demonstration by unemployed men in central Baghdad turned into a riot Wednesday with rock-throwing, gunshots and mayhem, the BBC said.
As many as 100 men gathered outside a police station where they said they had paid police officers for jobs.
They threw stones at policemen, who responded by firing into the air. It is not known if there were any injuries.
U.S. troops arrived at the scene, and firefighters were called to extinguish burning cars.
The police said there were people among the crowd who provoked and incited the violence.
"All these policemen are corrupt," said another. "We gave them money to register our names as candidates (for jobs) and when we returned they said we have no business being here."
Bribes of $100 were mentioned as being demanded in return for a job.
On Sunday, Calgarian Paul Gimson will photograph an event in Baghdad that hasn't been seen in Iraq for decades.
A long-established Christian church in that city -- that has been operating underground for years -- is boldly grasping onto the new freedom that has bloomed in Iraq since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime and will be holding its first "above-ground" public service ever.
"INTEL WAS PERFECT"
1AD gets it done.
Read the whole story here.
1st Armored Division soldiers raided five houses in Baghdad on Sunday night and early Monday, netting an Iraqi doctor suspected of organizing and carrying out attacks on coalition forces.
The soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment and 1st Brigade Reconnaissance Troop, also found an AK-47 assault rifle hidden in a wall, a .45-caliber pistol, documents and tools possibly used for the manufacture of improvised explosive devices.
No soldiers were killed or injured in the raid, which took place in the eastern part of Baghdad. The doctor was turned over to a coalition detention center Monday...
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Pinion pressed the buzzer on the gate, and a man matching the doctor’s description answered the door. Scouts also saw a BMW purportedly belonging to the doctor in the courtyard.
“I knew it was the guy,” Pinion said. “With the car and the [physical] description, it was him. Intel was perfect.”
AT BEST, A MIXED BLESSING
For those of you who don't live in the military community in Europe, instead of buying our gasoline at, say, German prices (a little over $4.00 per gallon) we buy our gasoline through a program run by the Army and Air Force Exchange (AAFES).
As gasoline prices have been volatile the last two years, there has been much debate about how AAFES' prices stack up to the back-home prices.
Right now we are paying about $1.74 per gallon (47 cents per liter).
According to the Stars & Stripes: Gas prices in Europe are not going up Wednesday, and will remain at September prices, according to officials from the Army and Air Force Exchange service.
The public will be given advance notice of any increases in the future, said AAFES spokeswoman Lt. Col. Debra Pressley...
For example, when gas prices increased by 9 cents a gallon in September, AAFES told consumers on Aug. 29, three days before the price change.
OK - that is good, as far as it goes...but is seems to completely ignore this story:
Retail gas prices slid more than 10 cents per gallon over the past two weeks, the biggest drop in two years, an analyst said Sunday.
The average price for a gallon of self-serve gas nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.65 on Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations.
That was a decrease of 10.23 cents per gallon since the last Lundberg Survey was taken Sept. 12.
HEY HEY, PAYDAY'S COMIN'
On the first day of the new fiscal year, President Bush signed into law the Defense Appropriations Act, a bill that will give the Pentagon $368 billion for next year....
The act allocates money to give servicemembers an average 4.l percent pay boost, which would kick in Jan. 1, and civilian federal employees 3.7 percent.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2d. The 144th day of CPT Patti's deployment.
144 days??!! That's gross!
A SPECIAL WELCOME
to those of you visiting here for the first time, thanks to the mention in the Herald Union (thank you Alex!). Check in daily for news about Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Ready First Combat Team (if they ever get coverage...) and related issues around the world.
I'm seeing a small trend in the news I think...one that begins to acknowledge that Baghdad is a city alive with hope and commerce and life! And its about time that recognition makes it to the surface...because your soldier, (and mine - CPT Patti!) is making that happen.
We won't ignore the bad, but will stay focused on the upbeat right here.
And God bless our soldiers.
Ted Kennedy got it exactly wrong.
From the 20th of September: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay lashed out at Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy for his criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy, describing the comments as a "new low" and calling on presidential candidates to repudiate the remarks.
In an interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Kennedy said the case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud "made up in Texas" to give Republicans a political boost and the money for the war is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send troops. Those words drew the wrath of Texas Republican DeLay...
Kennedy also elaborated on his comments in an interview on CNN Friday, saying the administration is announcing an $8.5 billion loan to Turkey, and that country will then provide military assistance in Iraq.
"It didn't have to be this way," he said. "We wouldn't have to be providing these billions of dollars to these countries to ... coerce them or bribe them to send their troops in, if we'd done it the right way, if we'd gone to the United Nations, if we had built an international constituency."
But then less than 2 weeks later...
Both American and Turkish officials have confirmed that the US$8,5 billion loan is tied to a condition that Turkish troops not enter Northern Iraq.
In a statement before the Cabinet Council meeting yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin has confirmed just that.
“The U.S. Senate determined conditions for the credit. This is one of them,” said Sahin. Minister of Justice and government spokesman Cemil Cicek also confirmed the condition in similar terms.
Amazing, isn't it?
HOW BAD CAN IT BE?
The UN can't function in Iraq, but Iraqis can film a movie in Baghdad...
Suffocated by years of military dictatorship and UN sanctions, Iraq's movie industry is staging its first post-war come back with a feature film shot amid the rubble of Baghdad and the US-led occupation.
Called "Underexposed", the film is to narrate the lives of young Iraqis in the first three days after the fall of Baghdad to Anglo-American coalition forces, combining real footage of the war with fictional scenes.
It will be only the second Iraqi feature film made since the United Nations slapped sanctions on Iraq in 1990 after former president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
Its 30-year-old director, Uday Rashid, says shooting will start next week and should be finished in four months.
The Iraqis are questioning the 6 month timeline mentioned by Secretary Powell as unrealistic.
What are the chances the French, among others, will shut up and ease off the pressure for an unrealistically "swift" pullout by the USA?
Iraqis are unlikely to be able to adopt a new constitution within six months as proposed by Secretary of State Colin Powell, the spokesman for the current president of the Iraqi Governing Council said Tuesday.
Powell laid down the proposed six-month timetable last week amid mounting international pressure for a handover of power in Iraq. Powell said the United States will not relinquish power until a democratically elected Iraqi government is in place.
"We all want to see a constitution as soon as possible," said Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for the current council president, Ahmad Chalabi.
He said it would take time for Iraqis to "coalesce" on issues regarding the framework of a new democratic Iraq. Then, he said, there had to be "adequate time" for the Iraqi people to discuss and understand any proposed constitution before holding a referendum on it.
"I don't think six months will be sufficient, but we must wait and see," he said. "This is up to the constitutional committee and the events. A lot of times deadlines do not necessarily stay as is, and reality drive what's happening."
U-S authorities in Iraq have relaxed the nighttime curfew in the capital city of Baghdad.
Officials say improvements in security and a reduction in crime since the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime are the reasons for the move.
Effective immediately, the curfew will run from midnight until 4 a-m. The curfew had begun each night at 11 p-m.
The U-S military says the scale-back of curfew hours is another sign that conditions in Iraq continue to improve.
What tickles me is that presumably he is still alive and able to read and hear about his exorcism from the lives of all Iraqis.
When Iraqi children return to school this Saturday, they will no longer see Saddam Hussein's portrait in the classroom or start the day chanting of his heroic struggle against the snakehead of the devil that is America. But Mr. Hussein has still not quite been expelled.
New Saddam-free textbooks are being printed, but they are not expected to be available until November. So students will open their books and face a variation of that old test question: identify the object that does not belong with the rest. The correct answers will require tearing out full-page pictures of Mr. Hussein and drawing lines through the paragraphs about the Baath Party's Great March.
"We want the exercise to teach students and teachers that the days of fear are finished," said Fuad Hussein, an adviser to the Ministry of Education, who has been supervising the de-Baathication of every textbook, from first-grade readers to high-school physics texts.
The first-grade equivalents of Dick and Jane are Hassan and Amal, shown in one reader happily holding a portrait of Mr. Hussein. Their dialogue begins with Amal saying, "Come, Hassan, let us chant for the homeland and use our pens to write, `Our beloved Saddam.' "
Hassan replies: "I came, Amal. I came in a hurry to chant, `Oh, Saddam, our courageous president, we are all soldiers defending the borders for you, carrying weapons and marching to success.' "
Duly inspired, Amal exclaims, "Let us start our work without delay."
A third-grade reader features a photograph of Mr. Hussein stroking the cheek of an apparently terrified boy at a school that had been hit by a missile during the war with Iran. In the text, a father tells him the school was deliberately attacked by Iran's leader: "My son, Khomeini hates the children of Iraq because they will become men in the future and will defend the homeland."
Saddam Hussein's touch was heaviest in history (students learn that Iraq's wars were all just and ended victoriously) and in a class called Patriotic Education, which has been eliminated.
But nothing escaped his influence. The educator, Dr. Hussein, said the Iraqis who reviewed the 560 textbooks recommended changes in every single one.
The de-Baathicized books, prepared by United Nations agencies using American funds, will include nothing new in substance and simply leave blank pages where material was cut.
In the old books, geography is taught with maps showing an Arab homeland with no trace of Israel. An English textbook includes an essay by an Arab mother whose family is terrorized by "Zionist" soldiers.
Science books include Mr. Hussein's pronouncements mixed among the laws of nature.
Even mathematics had its political side.
Students learned arithmetic by adding 4 + 28 because April 28 is Mr. Hussein's birthday (an occasion once celebrated with cakes and dancing during four-hour-long parties at schools). They learned their multiplication tables by computing the casualty count of shooting down four American planes with three crew members each.
"We had to include him in every lesson plan or we'd be in trouble with the Baath Party," said Nada al- Jalili, an elementaryschool teacher at the Tigris School for Girls in Baghdad. "When we taught about bacteria in biology class, we explained that Saddam brought antibacterial soap and drugs into Iraq. Whenever his name was mentioned, it had be followed with `God protect him and keep him our president.' "
Spc. Bengie Secuskie called it the best pool party in Baghdad. Of course, it was the only pool party in Baghdad, adds Sgt. 1st Class Michael P. Riley.
That tiny fact aside, the Sept. 14 party had ’80s rock, hip-hop jam and country music, food and sodas. About 400 of their closest friends from the 4th Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment came by for a swim.
“The only thing missing were the margaritas,” Riley said...
It all started when Stetson Troop commander Capt. Paul E. Johnson came to Riley and said, “Hey, I got a project for you if you want to tackle it.”
Great, thought the troop. A swimming pool! Until they looked at it. True, it was an Olympic-size pool in a multimillion dollar indoor facility. The facility was part of what had been an Iraqi air force school on Al-Rasheed air base, now Camp Muleskinner, brigade headquarters for the 2nd ACR out of Fort Polk, La.
But the facility had been abandoned after the first Gulf War in 1991, deteriorating into a garbage-filled ruin. The pool itself was a trash dump, full of everything from lockers, desks and chairs to old Iraqi body armor, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeff Turner...
Finally, the day came when they finally got all 800,000 gallons to stay in, putting in the chemicals the Saturday night before the big party.
“I woke up Sunday morning and the pool was crystal clear,” Turner said, “and I got down on my knees and prayed!”
Riley, Turner and Secuskie emphasized that the pool is blessed by V Corps and open to all units. Soldiers have already visited from Baghdad bases, and as far away as Babylon, two hours to the south.
I got a call from CPT Patti last night...unexpected due to the rhythms we've developed over the course of the deployment...it seemed just too soon.
I was delighted nonetheless even though it meant talking to her via cell my cell phone from a parking lot in downtown Giessen, then by the duck pond, then finally, as I walked all the way home. (When she called I was in the midst of my evening walk/jog exercise period.)
First of all she sounds terrific. She said she is generally doing well, with only the occasional minor physical complaints.
We discussed the R&R program, and as predicted here she does not expect to participate.
The latest change in the Quality of Life arena is that just this week the American Forces Network (AFN - its the GI's radio and TV service around the world) sattelite signal decoders were switched on...and, as CPT Patti said, "now we can watch football!" Previously their TV watching was limited to whatever was available on the Iraqi sattelite channels...which apparently included CNN International, various Arab channels, a couple of Italian and one Korean channel. By having the AFN decoders they will now be able to see live sports, receive news from more than just CNN and catch a lot of the popular TV shows that are playing in the states.
I asked CPT Patti her impression of the news coverage by CNN. She said it was, in a word, "awful". "And that is why I don't watch much of it" she went on to day. "They really slant the news toward the bad stuff...and they show only the Iraqis who are angry, and those are in the minority here. I saw this one Iraqi they interviewed and I swear he was being paid by the Fedayeen to say what he did on TV, because they are the only ones talking like that."
I also learned that the uniform restrictions have been slightly eased...if soldiers so desire they can now wear civilian style workout clothes in the gym when off duty.
She went on to say how much she appreciates the support she's getting from friends and family...and sends her love to all.
That's our gal!
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1st. The 143d day of CPT Patti's deployment.
''This day is something that has never happened before,'' FPS chief Faisel Muhsen Ali told the women at a short and no-frills ceremony.
''Before people said women were even but it was just words...This is the first time in Iraq women are doing real security work.''
Under Saddam Hussein's mainly secular rule, women enjoyed greater equality with men than in many other Arab states, holding jobs in business and government but not in the police.
Muslim clerics in Iraq have made little public objection to women working.
For the FPS, some women already carry out checkpoint searches, to avoid offending Iraqis by having women bodysearched by men. But Tuesday's graduates, who join about 1500 FPS officials assigned to the Water Resources Ministry, will do everything their male colleagues do.
WORD IS GETTING OUT
Interestingly I am seeing more and more stories highlighting the negativity of the press coverage of our efforts in Iraq.
Here is one.
Commerce is coming to life, as 5,000 small businesses have opened since May 1. Most all big hospitals and universities are back in operation, and hundreds of other schools around Iraq are set for teaching kids, instead of serving as weapons warehouses. More than 40,000 Iraqi police are patrolling with Coalition troops, months ahead of where we were at with Germany just after World War II. The same goes for the creation of a national governing council as well as local governing bodies, Rumsfeld noted.
Those who'd simply dismiss this as more lies from Rumsfeld are probably those who'd agree with Sen. Ted Kennedy's feverish claim last week that the whole war was a ''fraud'' cooked up in Texas to help the Republicans politically. That's only a half-step above the worldwide wackos who claim that the U.S. government cooked up the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks...
A long news account from Iraq yesterday began with the killing of another American soldier, which the usual naysayers would claim as reason to get out now; the Iraqis don't want us. But far down in the 27th and final paragraph was news of a Baghdad video shop being destroyed by a bomb. Why? Bush-bashers would jump to the conclusion that Islamic sensibilities were being bruised by a store peddling decadent Hollywood trash, and the people of Iraq were just freeing themselves from another evil U.S. influence. Actually, the shop owner said he had ignored several warning notes to stop selling videos that revealed atrocities committed by Saddam's regime.
Guess which Iraqis really want us out now.
What Iraqi's think of the "All Terrorist, All the Time" networks like Al Jazeera.
Al-Jazeera could just as well be called Al-Jihad: It typically features visceral anti-American and anti-Western propaganda. Having repeatedly appeared on it as a debater, I can say that fairness, balance and even basic good manners have no place when its commentators weigh in on the United States.
But what do Iraqis outside the Governing Council think? Happily, we can find out - because new voices are being heard on the Iraqi side of the famous "Arab street," from websites to the burgeoning Baghdad daily newspapers...
Only days before, an Iraqi commentator named Tayseer Abdul Jabber Al-Alousi wrote, "Most of the Arab satellite channels defend the former dictatorship and justify every one of its degrading crimes against the Iraqi people. This outlook has stimulated certain Arab leaders to pay off dishonest writers with petrodollars.
"Anyone watching these satellite broadcasts will recognize the hatred of our Iraqi people that emanates from them. They encourage terror, assassination, and some of them seek to destroy our national unity through incitement of civil strife between differing religions, sects, and ethnic groups. Some of these satellite networks' correspondents pay people to say things that follow their destructive propaganda line."
He says, "These satellite networks never explain how to help or support the Iraqis. They never talk about the [Coalition] heroes who did a lot for Iraq and who are working hard to establish safety and security. They concentrate on crime, death, bombings, and destruction."
SOUTH KOREA IGNORES THE IDIOTS
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, defying a large weekend protest in the streets of Seoul, yesterday signaled that he would respond positively to the Bush administration's request and send combat troops to Iraq.
Although Mr. Roh did not specifically refer to Iraq in remarks to senior U.S. military officers ahead of the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korea military alliance, he said his country would contribute to international stability as an expression of gratitude for five decades of U.S. assistance.
"The South Korean people are well aware of getting consistent help in the past 50 years," he said. "South Korea will be able to repay for the big help by contributing to world peace."
So say soldiers about the attacks in Iraq. Including one who was wounded.
When I have to choose who to believe...I'll take the soldier's word for it.
While guerrilla ambushes on U.S. vehicle convoys in Iraq sometime take a deadly toll, soldiers who have returned from the war say the attacks are rare and poorly organized.
A soldier who logged more than 15,000 miles driving a Humvee in Iraq said Monday that he had experienced just one attack. Another soldier who was shot in the leg during a pre-dawn ambush, said he was able to return the fire and that once his leg was completely healed, he would return to Iraq.
The soldiers are serving in the Army's 5th Engineer Battalion of combat engineers, some of whom were honored Monday at a ceremony at Fort Leonard Wood, where the unit is based.
"I would go back, but right now the circumstances are still keeping me here," said Sgt. Paris Archibald, 29. "I know I will return."
Archibald, who is from Panama, was shot in the leg while riding in a Humvee on a main highway north of Baghdad during an attack on a two-vehicle convoy in the early morning hours of June 12. Archibald said he gave himself first aid while he was rushed to an Army hospital in Tikrit, about 100 miles north of Baghdad.
"We couldn't stop," Archibald said. "We had to keep going. If we turned around (to get medical help) we would have had to go back through the ambush point."
Archibald said his training kept things under control.
"You do so much training. It's so realistic. The only thing you worry about is making sure you take the guy down. I was able to return fire. Did I get him? I can't tell because it was dark."
ARMED TO THE TEETH
Oil for food program? Yeah...right.
enior American military officials say that as much as 650,000 tons of ammunition remains at thousands of sites used by the former Iraqi security forces, and that much of it has not been secured and will take years to destroy.
The scope of the problem is much larger than the Pentagon acknowledged three weeks ago, when senior military officials insisted that all known munitions sites in Iraq had been secured.
The daunting task facing the military is illustrated in an infrared videotape of a sprawling, unguarded Iraqi air base taken by an Army helicopter crew in June that shows several huge hangars stripped bare of their roofing and siding, revealing bombs, missiles and other weaponry stacked dozens of feet high...
In Congressional testimony last week, Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior American commander in the Persian Gulf region, summed up the broader problem confronting the military. "There is more ammunition in Iraq than any place I've ever been in my life," he told the Senate Appropriations Committee, "and it is all not securable." He put the amount at 650,000 tons.
He added, "I wish I could tell you that we had it all under control, but we don't."
Iraqi insurgents ambushed U.S. convoys with roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades Monday, triggering an eight-hour battle in which the American military sent in fighter jets, bombers, helicopters and tanks. One U.S. soldier was killed and three were wounded...
The two ambushes hit U.S. military convoys about 9 a.m. in the Sunni Muslim towns of Habaniyah and Khaldiyah, six miles apart along the Euphrates River and about 50 miles west of the Baghdad.
As the major firefight raged in Khaldiyah, it seemed as though the Americans were pinned down, with the insurgents opening fire each time the U.S. patrol tried to withdraw. Eventually commanders called in jet fighters, A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft, helicopters and tanks.
The attackers apparently hid in trees and shrubs lining the dirt road where the roadside bombs left four big craters...
Lt. Col. Jeff Swisher, of the 1st Infantry Division, defended the use of force.
"American forces are here to provide security for the Iraqi people. If we are attacked, we are a well-trained and disciplined force, and we will respond," Swisher said.
"At 9 this morning an American patrol was ambushed by IEDs (roadside bombs), RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and small arms fire. The patrol returned fire and support was called in," Swisher said.
WOW! THANK YOU!
Delta, Southwest and American airlines offering R&R discounts.
Major airlines are offering discounts to soldiers and their families taking advantage of the military’s new rest and relaxation program, which has received some criticism because the last leg of soldiers’ vacations are not paid for.
Under the first major R&R program since Vietnam, the government pays for flights from Iraq to Germany, and then the United States, at which point the troops must pick up the tab for any domestic travel.
Before Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines this weekend began offering the troops special fares requiring no advance purchase, soldiers on vacation with little notice were faced with buying extremely expensive last-minute fares...
The carriers’ discounts are good for travel between Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where troops have been arriving since last week, and anywhere else in the United States.
All three of the carriers are offering roundtrip fares in the continental United States to soldiers and their dependents that cost less than $200.
“We want our servicemen and women to get home as quickly and as hassle-free as possible because we know their time is limited,” said Joyce Rogge, Southwest’s senior vice president of marketing.
CENTCOM NEWS RELEASE
September 29, 2003
Release Number: 03-09-25
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION SOLDIERS CAPTURE ABDUCTION SUSPECTS
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division captured three individuals who are suspected in the abduction of two US servicemen in June.
A fourth suspect was killed in a gun battle that ensued when the red Capri sedan the four were riding in attempted to run a Coalition traffic control point near Ad Dujayl.
The vehicle is believed to be the same car that had fled the scene of a detonated improvised explosive device aimed at coalition forces two hours earlier.
During the subsequent search of the vehicle, two M16 assault rifles were found which were subsequently identified as the weapons assigned to Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, of Linden, N.J., and Pfc. Kevin Ott, 27, of Columbus, Ohio, members of the 3/18th FA, Fort Sill, Okla.
The two soldiers are believed to have been abducted while guarding a cache of captured explosives near Halabsa, a village located in an area where Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen loyalists once were headquartered. The soldiers’ remains were located on June 28 in Taji, Iraq.
An AK-47 automatic assault weapon, an Iraqi military uniform, and other equipment were also found in the vehicle. The suspects are currently in custody of the 4th ID.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30th. The 142d day of CPT Patti's deployment.
IN CASE YOU STILL AREN'T CONVINCED
That media bias is out there and can be proven...note this.
A German newspaper, Der Spiegel (The Mirror), reports on the power outages in Italy and the power outages in New York last month.
Spot the difference?
Blackout in Italy
The (complete) failure of the Italian (and also a part of the Swiss) power net is reported on factually by (Germany's left-wing) SPIEGEL without the type of spiteful gloating that accompanied the blackout in the US a few weeks ago.
SPIEGEL: "ITALY WITHOUT POWER - France rejects responsibility for the blackout. In Italy, the power went out in the early hours of the morning this Sunday, affecting more people than the blackout in the USA. In all likelihood, storms knocked out two major power lines connecting France and Italy. The search for a scapegoat has begun."
The language of the SPIEGEL was different than when New York was hit by a blackout:
"BLACKOUT IN AMERICA - The dazed world power was plunged into chaos by the largest blackout in the super power's history: Cities in the dark, planes on the ground, and a nation marching single-file like geese through the darkness. The land of limitless opportunity was shut off by a couple of exploded fuses. A world power between perception and reality - SPIEGEL TV with observations from a country whose lights have gone out."
SPIEGEL logic: The blackout in the USA proves the weakness of the American nation. The blackout in Italy proves the weakness of two major power lines.
Blackouts also prove the anti-Americanism of SPIEGEL.
KNOW THE ENEMY
Iran, fearful of having a democratic and pluralistic Iraq next door, is sending hundreds of its spies to Iraq to foment unrest there, says a report.
The London Sunday Telegraph says these spies are posing as pilgrims and traders and have melted into the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala and also into other lawless areas of Iraq.
The report says Tehran's hard-line regime also has allowed extremist fighters from Ansar al-Islam, a terror faction with close links to al-Qaida, to cross back into Iraq from its territory to join the anti-American resistance.
DESPOTS AS SCHOOLMASTERS
"We were ordered by the Education Ministry to collect money from all students each day," she recalled.
"When the kids arrived at 8 o'clock, they would give us money for pencils, books and for fixing the building," Majid said. "Then I would teach them about how wonderful the Iraqi economy was, because education was free."
DREW CAREY HITS BAGHDAD
On the same day United Nations officials flew out of Baghdad, Drew Carey flew in Friday, commanding a company of comedians on a mission to entertain U.S. troops.
"I love Baghdad," Carey said. "You have camels, bugs and everything's served up with a big dirty glass of water. Sorry. If there's any locals here tonight, I'm just joking around. We're very grateful for all the hospitality you've shown," he said sarcastically.
Baghdad's Convention Center was transformed into the most heavily armed comedy club in the world Friday night for nearly 2,000 U.S. troops. Earlier Friday, the U.N. began downsizing its staff because of recent bombings in Iraq's capital.
I've said it before - if you need a suggestion, donate to the USO
"A LONG WAY TO GO"
Representative Jim Walsh, a New York Republican and one of the 17-member congressional delegation visiting Iraq, said at the end of the daylong tour that the lawmakers were convinced Iraq has "tremendous potential" despite the "tremendous amount of damage done to the country by Saddam Hussein."
"But it becomes very clear that the American public needs to be very patient with Iraq -- there is a long way to go," Walsh said.
ALMOST AS OLD AS GOD
By Army standards, anyway.
And we're glad to have him here in our community.
Jake Rabena sat in a pew and doodled while Charles Ehrhart, a Catholic chaplain, recited from the Bible.
Every now and then, the 4-year-old would stop drawing and glance up at Ehrhart, said Mary Ann Ernst, a family friend and fellow parishioner. At the end of the sermon, Jake leaned toward Ernst and made an observation.
“That’s God up there reading,” Jake said in a knowing way.
No, Jake, Ehrhart isn’t God, but you were in the presence of the oldest chaplain in the U.S. Army.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29th. The 141st day of CPT Patti's deployment.
ANOTHER SUPERB PIECE
By Victor Davis Hanson at NRO.
You'll want to read it all here.
We are not the only ones who know all of this. The German government realizes that these radical changes will prove for the universal good. For all of its election-inspired anti-American rhetoric last year, Germany accepts that the United States is not colonizing Iraq or siphoning off its oil, but rather spending billions of its own money, after a risky military operation, to help the Iraqi people — whether bringing water back to the Marsh Arabs, federalism to the Kurds, or respect and dignity to the Shiites.
Those facts cannot be spun and will not go away: American soldiers stationed in Iraq are no more exploitative than those in Germany, but are instead there to keep the peace and provide security, just as once they saved the Germans from themselves, and then kept the Russian bear out of Munich and Hamburg.
This truth, deep down, the Germans accept, and it explains why, for all of his prevarication, Mr. Schroeder knows that he is on the wrong side of history in his dispute with the United States. He is just now starting to sense that it is the American public, not a neoconservative cabal, that feels something is amiss with the transatlantic relationship, which from trade to defense largely benefited the Europeans.
If Mr. Schroeder is not careful, in a year from now there will be very few American troops in Germany; his socialist government will be faced with spending billions for its own security, with a piqued United States that for once will not so readily come to Germany's aid in its inevitable hour of crisis; Iraq will enjoy a consensual government despite German opposition to the removal of Saddam Hussein; and France will be Berlin's chief and perhaps only major ally. Ditto on a smaller scale for tagalongs like Belgium and Greece.
The French may even cease their overt opposition, not from appreciation that what the United States did in Iraq is for the long-term good of the world, but from a reality check provided by the last few months, which have not been as good for them as they think. There are cracks in the European Union, and the idea of choosing France over the Americans is odious even for most Europeans. Triangulating may for the moment play well in the Middle East, but ultimately Arabs will accept that the United States, not a harping France, risked so much to liberate Iraq. And when 10,000 of its own elderly citizens expired in their apartments while millions lounged at the beach, French claims of moral and political singularity were exposed as a fraud. And France, remember, traffics in images, not power.
So France, too, risks being an observer while the greatest democratic experiment of the age goes on in Iraq, isolated from the United States, which may well reconsider its clandestine support for France that so often facilitated Gallic military adventures abroad in Africa and elsewhere. A democratic, prosperous — and lucrative — Iraq is only in France's interest, especially when someone else risked the blood and treasure to achieve it.
We never did like going it alone in Iraq, but there is also a growing sense by both supporters and critics here that we are in essence going it alone nonetheless — and won't stop until the democratic reconstruction of Iraq is complete. For France and Germany — who gave no material or military support, but offered much overt hostility — there grows the realization that when we are done in Iraq, we might be in a sense done with both of them as well — a liberating, not a depressing, thought for millions of Americans. Demographic problems, statism, anti-democratic trends of the EU, failure to assimilate immigrants, pacifism and a disarmed continent, and intellectual bankruptcy and Pavlovian anti-Americanism among an elite — all that and more will be for them to handle in the decades to come.
OH, HERE'S A GOOD IDEA
Thousands of protesters demanding an end to the occupation of Iraq took to the streets in cities around the world yesterday, calling for the withdrawal of troops and chanting slogans attacking the U.S. and British governments.
Are these pinheads serious?
I mean, like what we've done or not, are they seriously proposing that at a time when there is yet no functioning government, the borders are porous, thousands of militants and other miscreants are running rampant in the country, they actually believe that if the US and Great Britain withdraw their troops today this will accomplish something meaningful?
I suppose they believe at the withdrawal of the soldiers, the Ba'athists, the Shi'a, the Sunnis, the Kurds, and Saddam Hussein will all form a circle about the campfire, hold hands and sing Kum By Yah and all will be just peachy.
SOUTH KOREANS RESPOND
South Korean demonstrators have burned North Korean flags and demanded that the South send combat troops to Iraq to strengthen its alliance with the US.
Brief scuffles erupted when police tried in vain to stop the demonstrators from burning two North Korean flags and a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. No injuries were reported.
"Let's strengthen the South Korea-US alliance by sending troops to Iraq," the 70 demonstrators chanted. "Let's bring down Kim Jong Il."
Today's demonstration contrasted with an anti-war rally a day earlier when 2,000 South Koreans marched in downtown Seoul to oppose what they called the US occupation of Iraq and persuade the government against sending troops.
CENTCOM NEWS RELEASES
September 26, 2003
Release Number: 03-09-23
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IRAQIS ASSUME FACILITIES PROTECTION RESPONSIBILITIES
MOSUL, Iraq – Coalition forces turned over responsibility for the Facility Protection Security Forces to the Iraqis during a formal change of responsibility ceremony held Sept. 23 in Mosul.
On hand were one platoon of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and two platoons of the FPSF.
Coalition forces will continue to be involved in the training and equipping of the FPSF.
The FPSF is meant to supplement the Iraqi Police Force in and around Mosul by patrolling the streets and standing guard at infrastructure facilities.
There are approximately 3,000 FPSF personnel guarding 123 separate sites in Mosul and the surrounding area.
September 26, 2003
Release Number: 03-09-24
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4TH ID SOLDIERS ASSIST CLINICS DURING IMMUNIZATION DAY
TIKRIT, Iraq-Fourth Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade’s soldiers along with local Iraqi healthcare workers provided immunizations for Iraqi children during the monthly Immunization Day in Ba’qubah on Sep. 22.
Immunization Day, which happens each month on the 22nd, allows children to receive vaccines for such health problems as diarrhea-induced illnesses and upper respiratory infections.
Mobile inoculation teams, working with the five clinics in Ba’qubah, provide immunizations to more than 750 children a month on Immunization Day.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28th. The 140th day of CPT Patti's deployment.