Friday, March 12, 2004

The pilgrims had sold their cows and furniture to raise money for the trip and braved car bombs and shootouts to get here. When Habeeb Allah Jagha Kaboudi finally arrived at the gold-domed shrine of the man Shiite Muslims consider the rightful successor to the prophet Muhammad, he fell to his knees. He chanted. He prayed. He cried.
Then he went shopping.

Since war ended in May, visitors estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands have braved continuing violence to travel to a country that was virtually closed to outsiders during three decades of rule by Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party...

Before the war, Najaf and Karbala were tranquil places where women in black robes glided around among scholars engaged in decades-long study of the Koran. Now the sister cities have the hustle and bustle of a crowded bazaar. Vendors cooking sticky sesame sweets on the streets beckon for visitors to try a taste. Long buses crammed with all manner of goods — clothes, toys, washing machines, ovens — line up neatly on the streets.

Tourism has provided a much-needed boost to Najaf's economy, and in many ways it has brought out the best in many of its residents. Some have taken to hosting visitors as they might their own families, handing out tea, dates, blankets and even shelter for free.
U.S. forces arriving in Iraq are being singled out for kidnapping by insurgents, according to senior military officers. The insurgents, they say, might make a symbolic spectacle of abducted soldiers or use captives to negotiate the release of Iraqi prisoners.

Military commanders are also concerned about a possible new terrorist tactic to pose as police officers. U.S. officials are worried that Iraqi police -- not just impostors in Iraqi uniforms -- may have been behind the killings of two coalition staffers and their translator, the top American general in Iraq said yesterday.

The warning on kidnapping is being given to Marine Corps and Army ground forces rotating into Iraq. The military officers say the information has come from a number of intelligence discoveries, though they specified only one: a seized letter the Americans say was written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist suspected of al-Qaida ties...

Army and Marine Corps commanders say that arriving troops express concern about the threat of kidnapping, but that, as one officer put it, any anxiety will diminish "once they're inside the country, once they've got their feet on the ground."

"You've got a gun in your hands, and you've got more than enough for a fair fight," the officer said.
British engineering firm Amec has won a major contract to help rebuild Iraq from the US Defense Department.
The Pentagon awarded the $500m (£278m) deal to rebuild Iraq's power plants to FluorAmec, a joint venture between Amec and US partner Fluor.

It is the biggest and most significant deal won by a UK firm in Iraq.

A distant cousin of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who was a press secretary to four members of Congress including U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, was charged Thursday with working with Iraqi intelligence before the war started last year.

Investigators said Susan Lindauer, 41, had tried to influence U.S. policy toward Iraq by presenting herself as an intermediary to a highly placed relative.

She was arrested Thursday morning by federal agents at her home in Takoma Park, Md., outside Washington. In New York, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment that said she had met repeatedly with representatives of the Iraqi intelligence service starting in 1999 and that she had traveled to Baghdad in 2002 for meetings with Iraqi intelligence officials.

She also accepted $10,000 for her work with the Iraqi intelligence service, according to the indictment.

``I'm an anti-war activist and I'm innocent,'' Lindauer told WBAL-TV as she was led to a car outside the Baltimore FBI field office. ``I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else. I have done good things for this country. I worked to get weapons inspectors back to Iraq when everyone else said it was impossible. I'm very proud and I'll stand by my achievements.''
In a war that has cost some 550 American lives and wounded nearly 3,000, the two met last summer and survived everything from roadside bombs to mortar attacks.

"Yeah, there were a couple of little things here and there we had to worry about," said Spec. 4 Morgan, 21, who is scheduled to marry Grant in Shady Cove on Tuesday.

Both soldiers went into Iraq when the war started, eventually ending up in Baghdad. The brigade returned to its home base in Germany late last month.

The two met one July night in an Iraqi police station where he was on duty. Her unit stopped by during a routine patrol.

"I asked him if I could smoke in the building because I didn't want to go outside," said Grant, 26.

He told her it was fine with him, and they struck up a conversation while looking at some photographs he had taken of Iraq.

That pleasant interlude in the midst of war left each of them looking for the other after that initial meeting. "He was waiting at the IP (Iraq police) station each night, hoping I'd come by," she said.

They met again in October. Then, one night, "He took me up on top of the palace roof to propose," she said. "It was wonderful."

The 24-carat gold ring he gave her was hand-fashioned by an Iraqi. On the inside are the words, "All My Love K&D."

The troop rotation passes the halfway mark and my darling wife is still in Baghdad...
The rotation of U.S. troops in and out of Iraq has reached the halfway mark.

“We’re about at the 50 percent point,” Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for coalition operations, said Tuesday.

That rotation — involving about 250,000 U.S. troops — has generally gone smoothly, he said.

“I think it’s a great credit not only to the logisticians who planned it, but the leaders who led it,” Kimmitt said.

Day 306.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Sent in by my old buddy Defense Contractor Guy
U.S. Marine Col. Charles Gurganus said gunfire broke out on the northeast corner of the plaza and several people were wounded before Marines spotted two gunmen. When the gunmen tried to attack the Marines, the troops shot and killed one of them, he said, adding that he did not know what happened to the other man.

Asked how he knew the man killed was a gunman, Gurganus said: "He had a gun, and he was shooting at Marines. That's what I call a gunman."
A formal censure for President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over allegations they deceived the public about reasons for invading Iraq would be more appropriate than impeachment, the Berkeley City Council decided Tuesday night.

The council, known for its tradition of issuing various symbolic gestures on national and international issues, acted as chants from a pro-impeachment rally outside wafted through the chamber windows.
My poor brother-in-law, CPT Patti's brother, just finished a three year stint as a US Army Recruiter in California.

Poor guy.
The best news: Between February 19 and March 2 not a single American soldier was killed in Iraq.

This is testimony to the fact that the American military units operating there - even in the midst of a huge movement of soldiers as the old U.S. force of 130,000 is replaced by a fresh new force of 110,000 - have ground down the opposition Sunni guerrillas to a much more manageable level both in terms of numbers and effectiveness.

This wasn't achieved with a few big battles or a few massive sweeps, but rather by a slow, steady weeding out of the bad guys, taking them down or out by ones, twos and threes and primarily doing it with information provided by Iraqis who want to see an end to this war and a future for themselves.

It doesn't hurt that the tribal leaders of the minority Sunni Arab population of central Iraq - which has provided most of the guerrilla recruits and sheltered them - have begun to realize that the only thing standing between them and extermination by their blood enemies, the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south, is the U.S. Army and now the Marines.

The awful days of the Ramadan offensive in November, when the Americans suffered record numbers killed and wounded in a seemingly endless series of roadside bombings, are no more. With luck and hard work they may not come again.

A new life is coming to many parts of Iraq. Shops have more goods to sell, people have more money to spend and inflation is beginning to work its way back down. Iraqi oil production now is around 2.3 million to 2.5 million barrels a day, or almost pre-war production levels of 2.8 million barrels, thanks to $1 billion in infrastructure repairs paid for by the American taxpayer.

Today must be Army Lingo Day here...G2 is Army shorthand for Intelligence. And according to the intel, things might get noisy in northern Iraq.

U.S. soldiers of Task Force Olympia in northern Iraq are bracing themselves for ?spectacular attacks? as the desperation of enemy forces continues to grow, Army Brig Gen. Carter Ham said Tuesday.

?There is evidence that we are likely to see an increase in activity based on [an increase] in terrorists, foreign fighters, extremists, criminals [and] former regime elements,? Ham said during a press briefing in Baghdad, hooked in to the Pentagon. ?They are attacks against coalition and attacks on symbols of progress, whether economic or otherwise.?

The use of recent terrorist tactics is ?evidence of the desperation of our enemy,? Ham said.

This piece describes a not-so-well-known perk of deploying to a war zone...the Savings Deposit Program. Soldiers can deposit up to $10,000 and earn a guaranteed 10% APR on that deposit, so long as they remain in the war zone.

I'm pretty certain there isn't another guaranteed 10% out there.

If your soldier has must gone downrange and somehow you didn't know about this...well now you do.

In the military the term "short" refers to having very little time remaining on your current assignment or deployment. So, in Army speak we can say that CPT Patti and her unit are "getting short", meaning, they are due to end their deployment soon.

But being short doesn't mean being out of harms way...and the leaders are stressing no lapses in vigilance.

Good article.
Soldiers washed Humvee windshields, loaded up the last pieces of cargo and checked to make sure they left no wrench or weapon behind.

The next day would be the first leg in their journey home after spending a year in Iraq. But before they reach a relatively safe, dusty camp across the border in Kuwait, their convoy must travel through areas known for roadside bombs, ambushes and mortar attacks.

Spc. Christopher Watson, 23, of Houston, scowls when asked about the risks. In the past 12 months, he has faced more than his fair share of danger, and he said he is not about to allow anything to happen to him or anyone in his unit — the Fort Still, Okla.-based 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery — especially this close to being home.

“I feel sorry for anyone who gets in our way,” Watson said.

Commanders want soldiers to treat their final days in Iraq with the same vigilance and attention to detail as their first few days last spring, when they stormed across the Kuwaiti border and toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime. But they are concerned that some soldiers might already be thinking about home, distracting them from the threats they face while still in Iraq...

“I’m actually hoping Murphy doesn’t kick me in my ass,” Bernard said, referring to Murphy’s Law, which states that if anything can go wrong, it will. “Once we’re finished, when we’re leaving and it’s all over, and I’m not flying, I’m sitting in the back letting them take me home, you think, ‘What if?’”

A few weeks ago, regiment commanders met to talk about the trip home. They did a “risk assessment,” ticking off all the hazards of the upcoming trip home, from Humvee accidents to roadside bombs. After the meeting, they put the word out to soldiers to not let their guard down.

The dilemma is that some soldiers have a tremendous amount of anxiety about the day they step foot on American soil again, especially those who know they are facing financial problems or divorce papers. Sergeants major and other noncommissioned officers are trying to identify those soldiers who are considered “high risk.”

Soldiers go through a series of briefings to help them reintegrate with their families, but those expecting to deal with marital or financial problems when they get home get extra attention. Troops who have angst about what awaits them when they return go through counseling before they leave.

“It’s maddening for our soldiers to try and keep their mind on the mission when they know their whole life is crumbling underneath him,” regiment Chaplain (Capt.) David Deppmeier said.

Suicide is one of the biggest fears...

Soldiers nervous about going home have a ton of time to worry about things during the final several weeks. Some units wrapped up their mission in Iraq, are packed up and just waiting for transportation.

Soldiers are counting the minutes.

Spc. Pedro Gonzalez, 22, of Miami, a flight operations specialist with the 571st, said the last week has been among “the most boring and longest days” of his life...

Staff Sgt. Joseph Peca, 28, of Philadelphia, who is married and has a 1-year-old son, said people are getting tired of seeing the same people and hearing the same stories over and over again.

“You know you’ve been in Iraq too long when you run out of things to talk about,” Peca said.

CPT Patti has been deployed to Baghdad now for 305 days.

Three hundred five.

Hey...that fits the opening of Beethovan's Fifth.

Three hundred five! Three hundred five. Three hundred five (three hundred five three hundred five...) Three hundred five (three hundred five three hundred five...) Three hundred five. Three hundred five. Three hundred five...five...five.

Er...excuse me. Sorry.

If you are licensed to practice in Germany....maybe you'll drop me a line...

By the way...wouldn't it make more sense if it were spelled "threee"?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Regarding Kerry's obscenity filled website, a spokesman offers this:
A spokesman for Kerry said he believed the Web site was struck by ``a virus'' yesterday. He then promised to get back to us with a better story, but never did.
What's next? Tourette's?

Kerry is quoted supporting the President for unilateral military action against Iraq. wasn't this president.

(via Sarah)

Yesterday I bemoaned the lack of international acclaim for the significance of the signing of Iraq's interim constitution. My point was that the world's most nascent democracy could certainly use a little encouragement.

I mean...there are those who believe "It Takes A Village" to raise a child. One might imagine a parallel supposition for raising up a brand new democracy.

My friend John sent a list of links overnight - links to news stories indicating international acclaim.

He translates for me a quote from Japan, saying "This is an important step towards the legitimacy of the new Iraq political process. Thus our country/government welcomes it."

I was unable to open a couple of the links John sent...but the ones I could open took me to comments made by officials of:

Iran: "The signing of the Iraqi interim constitution is an effective step in the transfer of power to the Iraqi people and Iran welcomes this favourably."

Saudi Arabia: "signing of the interim constitution by members of Iraq's Governing Council is a positive step on the road of drafting a permanent constitution for safeguarding Iraq's unity and territorial integrity."

Turkey: Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday that the interim constitution of Iraq enabled Turkmens to give education in the schools in their own language.

and United Arab Emirates (President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has welcomed the signing of the interim constitution in Iraq, describing it as a major step towards achieving stability and reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.

(All emphases mine.)

Now...I want to take a look at this for a moment.

Only two of the five countries listed here are democracies, Japan and Turkey.

Of the five countries here, 3 border Iraq and one more (UAE) is a stones throw down the street. You might imagine anything that appears to hasten stability in the region would be welcomed.

And in fact when one reads closely these statements we find that the first two merely affirm it to be a good thing that Iraq is taking steps toward their own "legitimate" government...which can be construed as a poke in the eye of the USA.

The Saudi statement seems to hold out hope that Iraq will cease being a basket case in the region while that of the UAE also hopes that the neighborhood will quiet down.

And the Turks...the Turks seem to be damning with faint praise, if that is the best they can do.

Meanwhile, notable in their absence (in so far as I and the essaying readers can find) are the non-English speaking great democracies of the world...including one whose motto is "Liberté - égalité - fraternité"

I still don't get it.

Another American soldier has been killed in Iraq after a roadside bomb went off near his convoy.

The military says the soldier is the first member of the 1st Infantry Division to die in Iraq. The 1st Infantry is replacing the 4th Infantry Division.

The soldier died after the Humvee he was riding in was hit by the bomb just east of the tense town of Baqouba. The area is part of the so-called "Sunni Triangle," which has been a hotbed of anti-American resistance.

A second soldier was injured in the explosion and is listed in stable condition.

Day 304.

News flash: Celibacy is overrated.

Posting could be light or late today...I actually have lots of stuff to do in my real life.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A proposed amendment to California's constitution would give 16-year-olds a half-vote and 14-year-olds a quarter-vote in state elections.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos, among four lawmakers to propose the idea on Monday, said the Internet, cellular phones, multichannel television and a diverse society makes today's teens better informed than their predecessors.

The idea requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature to appear on the November ballot.

"When we gave the vote to those who didn't own property, then to women, then to persons of all colors, we added to the richness of our democratic dialogue and our own nation's integrity and its model for the world," Vasconcellos said, calling it time to further extend the vote.

A Republican colleague said it was "the nuttiest idea I've ever heard."
Better informed? About who Brittney is sleeping with perhaps.

I got your "better informed" right here, genius.

I'm scouring the news on the internet trying to find expressions of congratulations by world leaders to the Iraqis on their new constitution.

None is being reported other than President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.

I sincerely hope that I am incorrect...but I cannot find a single quote attributable to any world leader on this amazing accomplishment.

Perhaps I'm looking at this incorrectly...and I'll count on the readers as usual to adjust my perspective. But Germany is a democracy. France is a democracy. Regardless of what one thinks of the road that brought the Iraqis here, don't the people of the world's most nascent democracy deserve the encouragement of those who have long since been down this path?

It is not an original thought with me...but a powerful one: Democracies don't attack democracies. Think about it. What was the last significant war waged between two democracies?

One would think this fact alone is worth celebrating.

Does anyone else find this to be sad?

Taking words from our own National Anthem to highlight the rocky road that progress demands.
The birth of Iraqi democracy

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

– from the US national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner

As the Iraqi Governing Council signed its nation's new interim constitution yesterday, five rockets hit the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad and two rockets hit near the convention center where the council had gathered. The New York Times reported that Lt. Col. Randy Lane, standing near the spot where the rockets had been launched, said, "I think there are definitely people who are trying to stop the new Iraq from emerging."

Freedom and independence rarely come without a struggle, as Americans and Israelis know. The road ahead for Iraqi democracy is a long one and the outcome is not guaranteed. Yesterday's signing, however, was undoubtedly an historic moment in the history of Iraq, the Middle East, and the world...

This day also represents a sea change in American policy, and even for the Bush administration. In his first campaign, Bush opposed his Democratic predecessor's penchant for nation-building. Now, post 9/11, Bush is engaged in region-building, with the new Iraq as the centerpiece.

Politicians do not like to admit changes of mind, but this is one to be proud of. If anything, it is those who cling to the pre-9/11 notion of "stability" who have something to explain.
(Emphasis mine)

Overnight I received two separate links...with similar themes. John Kerry must not win...he hasn't the class to represent America.

Beth linked me to this story which includes this:
"I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, 'You've got to win this, you've got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that," he said.
As Beth points out, is it just a bit presumptuous for Kerry to be meeting privately with foreign leaders?

As for me, frankly, I don't see the leadership of the United States of America and the Free World as management by committee...with undue input from foreignors at that. "Leadership by committee" is what got us a decade of a pip squeak like Saddam thumbing his nose at the world. Round after round of "we really mean it this better listen to the UN because we are running out of patience and boy howdy, you won't like us when we're mad" isn't leadership. It is complicity.

But that seems to be Kerry's message. Let's get back in touch and find out what the rest of the world wants us to be.

Which just smacks of Kerry, mister duplicitous, Mr. "I feel strongly both ways on this issue". Since he doesn't have a vision of his own...since he can't take a stand on anything, it doesn't strike him as odd that others must tell him who we should be.

UPDATE: Jonah names those foreign leaders who want Kerry to win.

UPDATE: Rantingprofs puts a pointy finger on just how unseemly this issue is. (via Instapundit)

And then I heard from Shannon at The Deployment Diary and she is on a tear! Shannon rightly points out that money can buy a lot of things, but it can't buy class. This story proves two things to me...that the far side of the aisle continues to be fascinated with the posterior of the anatomy...and that a liberal tosses around the word "evil" in various inappropriate places because liberals have long ago abandoned any belief in good and evil - thus the word has no true meaning in their lexicons.

And so Kerry's wife deems it - what?, cute? I guess, to refer to the President of the USA as "evil".

Is that really what the Kerry's believe? Or is this just another case of the Kerry family tossing words around without really meaning them

OK - For whatever reason I just can't take the madness without comment I want to link you to guys who do a much better job than I dissecting the Jello that is Kerry. (I don't usually link to these if you haven't read them before, make time to do so...they are all just brilliant guys.)

Steven Den Beste gets it right, here.

Citizen Smash smashes Kerry here.

And the VodkaPundit serves it up "neat" here.

(Links via Instapundit)

Finished? Are you anymore certain as to what Kerry stands for now than y you were when you started?

Didn't think so.

UPDATE: Just for dessert.

Day 303.

Ya know, for a while this role as "waiting spouse" isn't bad...but, you know, after a couple or three-hundred days it actually begins to wear on ya.

So far I can only imagine one thing longer and more painful than this has been.

Eight more months of the run for the White House. Sheesh!

Monday, March 08, 2004


Greek conservatives seize power
A coup d'etat? election.

But the conservatives didn't "win". The masses didn't "elect" the conservatives, throwing out the socialists.

No...according to the BBC the conservatives "sezed power".

It looks that way to me.
The family of an Ohio soldier killed in Iraq says the military needs a better way for relatives to reach injured soldiers overseas.

The wife of Army Staff Sgt. Sean Landrus wishes she had gotten a chance to say goodbye. Chris Landrus says one call isn't too much to ask.

The soldier died Jan. 29 in a hospital in Iraq from wounds he suffered from a roadside bomb two days earlier. His family says they didn't find out how bad his injuries were until after he died.

Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette wants the Defense Department to do more to give families immediate telephone access to the places where wounded soldiers are treated.

The Army says it tries to share as much information as possible, but that security and extreme conditions make the job difficult.
On the one hand, this being the information age of sattelite uplinks and such, seems this complaint could be addressed.

On the other hand, such advances raise entirely new policy questions that would need sorting out. One issue I can foresee is the perception of a lack of parity. One spouse saying "Mrs. X got to speak to her husband as he was being treated for injuries...why didn't I?"

It is clear to me from reading, oh, I don't know, about a gzillion news stories over the last 302 days, that neither the press nor the average family member of a soldier understand that in a war zone, you get only what you make. And not all are able to make the same.

A seven pound spy-plane...
A tiny spy plane developed by Lockheed Martin engineers in Palmdale is doing sentry duty around U.S. air bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Weighing seven pounds and looking like something out of a hobby shop, Desert Hawk controls itself without human guidance and carries video cameras and infrared sensors that allow security personnel to scout outside bases without exposing themselves to danger...

The Desert Hawk is just 32 inches long and has a wingspan of 52 inches, powered by an electric motor and able to fly for an hour to 75 minutes at a time.

Score one for President Bush...and one against the Islamofascists.
Iraq's Governing Council signed an interim constitution Monday, a key step toward a planned handover of sovereignty by U.S.-led occupation forces to Iraqis on June 30.
Go take a picture of you can say "this was me on a hugely symbolic day in the history of the war on terror."
A former Iraqi intelligence officer captured by police after last week's bombings in Baghdad and Karbala has revealed that he was paid by al-Qa'eda to carry out attacks on civilians.

Mohammed Hanoun Hamoud al-Mozani was detained with two associates on Wednesday, a day after almost 200 people were killed in simultaneous explosions at shrines packed with Shias.

After interrogating al-Mozani for 24 hours, Najaf police revealed that he had given important information on the network behind the attacks in Iraq.

"We think that this is a big breakthrough," said Major Mohammed Dayekh of the Najaf police. "Al-Mozani admitted that he was part of a terrorist cell that answered to a middle-man who works for al-Qa'eda and he gave us the names of the four other men in the cell, two from Baghdad and two from Najaf."

Al-Mozani and his associates were wearing police uniforms when they were seen in Najaf. After a car chase, the three men were caught and taken to the city's police headquarters. On Thursday they were handed over to American troops...

The middle-man, who went by the name of Abu Utthman, promised him tens of thousands of dollars for each successful mission. He allegedly told al-Mozani that he was a deputy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist whom the coalition blames for most of the attacks in Iraq.

"Al-Mozani said they were offered between $20,000 (£10,900) and $30,000 (£16,400) to organise terrorist attacks and that they would get bonus money if the attacks led to the death of a large number of people," Major Dayekh said. "He said that he was tempted to work with them because it was such an easy way to make money and that he agreed to do it because he needed the money."
Guerrillas have fired 10 rockets at the headquarters of the US-led administration in Baghdad, according to Iraqi police.

The attacks have come on the eve of the planned signing of a new and hard-won interim constitution for Iraq.

Police and the US military said there were no serious injuries from the blasts.

The rockets were fired from a car which the attackers abandoned.

Police said they found explosives in the car along with two rockets that had not been fired.
But the Islamists are hopping mad over that which they cannot control.
Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement Sunday urged Iraqis to reject a new constitution due to be endorsed in Baghdad on Monday.

A statement issued by the influential Islamic group said the new Iraqi constitution, to be signed by all 25 members of the interim Iraqi Governing Council, was "dictated by the American occupation."

It said that U.S. Administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, had "refused for Islam to be the basic reference of the constitution."

The draft Iraqi constitution states that Islam is one of the sources for legislation but not the central one.

The Jordanian movement added that Islam "should remain the only source of legislation in Iraq and for Arabic to remain the only basic language," in an obvious reference to the constitution that adopted Arabic and Kurdish as the two basic languages in Iraq, Jordan's eastern neighbor.

What this team should find as they begin preparing the case against Saddam.
The United States is sending a 50-strong team of lawyers, prosecutors and investigators to Iraq to prepare for the war- crimes trial of Saddam Hussein that could start this summer.

The group's main task will be to organise the accumulated, but still disparate, evidence of the former Iraqi president's atrocities into a report. This will probably serve as the basis for the case against the former dictator to be presented by Iraqi prosecutors in what American officials insist will be an Iraqi-run trial.

Day 302.

CPT Patti and I had some time to "chat" via instant messenger yesterday. She told me she may be leaving Baghdad as early as April 6th. Which means, Holy Buckets...we might jolly well be INSIDE ONE MONTH!

This, frankly, is not real to me. But I want it to be.

Sunday, March 07, 2004


This will help.
More than a dozen families who lost relatives in the Sept. 11 attacks released a letter Saturday declaring their support for President Bush and his use of images of the destroyed World Trade Center in campaign ads.

"There is no better testament to the leadership of President Bush than Sept. 11," the letter states. "In choosing our next leader we must not forget that day if we are to have a meaningful conversation."

The "Open Letter to America," signed by 22 people who lost loved ones in the trade center, comes as other victims' families asked that the ads be pulled from the airwaves. The spots also show firefighters carrying a flag-draped stretcher...

Jimmy Boyle, former president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said he came up with the "Open Letter to America" after hearing that the president was being criticized for the ads.

"I don't think he's taking advantage of Sept. 11 and I feel that he's given us the leadership that we need," said Boyle, who said he will be voting for a Republican president for the first time in November.
(Emphasis mine)
Shock jock and self-proclaimed "King of All Media" Howard Stern believes his reign on the radio is coming to an end.

"The show is over," he announced Friday morning on his nationally syndicated radio program. "It's over."...

"There's a cultural war going on. The religious right is winning. We're losing."
Mr.'ve been on the losing side from the beginning.

Unless your name is John Kerry...
A son of Osama bin Laden's deputy has given crucial information on the whereabouts of al-Qaeda leaders after being captured by Pakistani forces in a lawless frontier area close to Afghanistan, intelligence officials in Islamabad have revealed.

Ayman al-Zawahiri's son, Khalid, was seized with 20 other suspected foreign militants in a raid by Pakistan's security forces in the remote South Waziristan area 10 days ago, officials said.

Information gleaned from him by interrogators has helped direct Pakistani and US forces in their drive to capture bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda figures, being conducted in the mountainous areas on both sides of the border.

The authorities in Islamabad are unwilling to announce formally the capture of the younger al-Zawahiri, but officials have confirmed privately that he is being questioned by officers from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the CIA at a secret location in Pakistan...

They say recent sweeps by British and US special forces in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan have been linked to disclosures made by Khalid al-Zawahiri and others, including his wife, captured with him in raids on houses in Azam Warak, 15 kilometres from Wana, the main town of South Waziristan.

Pakistani security forces also recovered ammunition, passports, video cassettes and literature belonging to the al-Qaeda terrorist network in the raids in the frontier area. Al-Zawahiri is said to have been in touch with his father recently.

Hundreds of troops from Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps, backed by helicopter gunships, have been in the area to tackle the foreign militants and either capture bin Laden or drive him across the Afghan border into American hands.

SGT Akbar, the Muslim soldier accused of murdering two officers of his own unit, the 101st Airborne Division, will be court martialed...and the death penalty is on the table.

As it should be.
Akbar is accused of tossing grenades into fellow service members' tents while stationed at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait. The attack killed two officers and wounded another 14 during the early days of the Iraq war.

On Thursday, the Army announced that Akbar, 32, would face a court martial this summer and that the death penalty would be considered if he is found guilty.

Akbar faces two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted murder.

It is the first time since the Vietnam War that a U.S. Army soldier has been prosecuted for the murder or attempted murder of another soldier during wartime, according to the Army.

Sen. John Kerry slammed President Bush on his treatment of the U.S. military in Iraq Saturday, citing an admission by a senior military official that U.S. troops went into the war unprepared.

The Massachusetts senator, in the Democrats' weekly radio address, referred to an admission this week by acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee that U.S. troops were not prepared when the president sent them in to topple Saddam Hussein.

"Republican and Democratic leaders were right to join together to say to the Bush administration that this is just unacceptable," Kerry said. (Full story)

"If I am president, I will be prepared to use military force to protect our security, our people, and our vital interests. But I will never send our troops into harm's way without enough firepower and support."

Kerry said that U.S. helicopters in Iraq even now "are flying missions without the best available anti-missile systems" and that "un-armored Humvees are falling victim to roadside bombs and small-arms fire.

"The Bush administration waited through month after month of ambushes and only acted to start manufacturing armored door kits three months ago," he said.
It can only be one of two ways. Either John Kerry is an idiot, or he believes you are an idiot.

Let's take these one at a time.

"But I will never send our troops into harm's way without enough firepower and support."

We went from the Iraq-Kuwait border to owning Baghdad in less than 3 weeks with a little more than 2 divisions. Frankly, Senator, we kicked ass. Firepower wasn't an issue, and support was no more of an issue than it has been in any war...and much less of an issue than in some.

"are flying missions without the best available anti-missile systems" and that "un-armored Humvees are falling victim to roadside bombs and small-arms fire."

Senator, welcome to the US Military's procurement and development cycles...cycles influenced greatly by the Federal Acquisition Regulations which are Congress' work, Senator, not the Department of Defense. Oh yeah, and the fielding of new equipment is also a function of Congress' funding, Senator.

What anti-missile systems do you speak of Senator? When were they finally tested and approved? How long do you think it takes, Senator, for systems to be fielded? The limiting factor on fielding is money...if we have tons of money then we can hire an infinite number of contractors to upgrade the helicopters in short order. Where was the legislation to do that prior to our entrance into Iraq, Senator?

If you TRULY want to speed up the production of such armaments for our military, Senator, you will strip out the Buy American clauses and the "Small and disadvantaged business clauses" from the Federal Acquistion Regulations, Senator...because both of those cost the US Taxpayer money, and lengthen the amount of time to procure items, Senator. Where was the legislation to do this, Senator?

"Un-armored HUMMWVs" Senator? If you had a single solitary clue Senator you would know that HUMMWV's were never intended to be armored. As I've written here before, the HUMMWV replaced the Jeep. The Jeep was never armored. Nor was it expected to be. If you are so gol' darned concerned about HUMMWV armament, Senator, where was your "Congressional" inquiry to the Department of Defense asking about the absence of armor on HUMMWV's long ago?

The HUMMV was never designed to be an armored vehicle because on a traditional battlefield it doesn't need to be. And fighting on traditional battlefields is how Congress funds the US Military. The problem we face now is that this war on terror is not fought on a traditional battlefield.

I defy you to show me one solitary line in any Defense Department Budget for "occupation operations" Senator. But it is precisely because we are in this unforseen situation that the issue of armor on HUMMV's has even come up.

To be fair to former Army Chief of Staff Shinseki, the Stryker vehicle envisioned hostile urban operations, Senator. Were you out there introducing legislation to hurry this vehicle into production and fielding, Senator? I didn't think so.

Senator, spare us the intimation of your didn't have it, you don't have it.

It is so easy for you to snipe, Senator...because sniping doesn't actually require any action...only what you are good at...criticizing and Monday morning quarterbacking.

You want to run on your record as a veteran, Senator? I mean, you know...veteran to veteran, Senator, not veteran to one who never served.

Then show me what you've done for the Soldier lately, Senator, other than to criticize the Commander in Chief and use the soldier as a pawn to get you elected.
Top Shia leaders in Iraq have resolved issues delaying the adoption of the interim constitution, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council has declared.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie made the announcement after he and another IGC member had talks with leading Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

"There is going to be very good news very soon," Mr Rubaie said.

A signing ceremony was called off on Friday because Shia leaders objected to some aspects of the new constitution.

Mr Rubaie said the ceremony would now go ahead on Monday.
My guess is that everyone pretty much understands that although this is only an "interim" constitution, the precedents that it sets will be hard to break.

I'm not surprised that this process isn't without its speed bumps.
Sabrea Kudi cannot find her son. He was taken by American soldiers nearly nine months ago, and he has not been seen since.

"I'm afraid he's dead," Kudi said.

Lara Waad cannot find her husband. He was arrested in a raid, too.

In Abu Sifa, a village north of Baghdad, entire swaths of farmland have been cleared of males - fathers, sons, brothers, cousins.

Men are not available to do men's work. Women till the fields, guard the houses and hoist sacks of grapefruit on their backs.

Iraq has a new generation of missing men. Instead of ending up in mass graves or at the bottom of the Tigris River, as they often did during the rule of Saddam Hussein, they are detained somewhere in American jails.

Although the insurgency has cooled, with suicide attacks against civilians now eclipsing armed clashes with American troops, American forces are conducting daily raids, bursting into homes and sweeping up families. More than 10,000 men and boys are in custody.
I despise the damnation by insinuation in such liberal drivel as this. The article implies some parallelism between Saddam's mass graves and US POW camps.

The article says entire swaths have been "cleared of males". Are we to infer that the US Army has swept across the country side in some King Herod like round-up of all male-born children of any generation? Most certainly that is not the case.

Let's face it...war is hell. We've got US soldiers, who, whether you like it or not, happen to represent the arbiter of right and wrong in this country for the moment, on the ground and in harms way. There are less than 130,000 soldiers. There are 25 Million Iraqis. The odds are not in our favor.

And so - in Iraq - one can be smart or one can be stupid. You want to be smart...get into your fields, till your soil. Work for yourself...lots of Iraqis are.

You want to be stupid? OK - gather in the street in masses. Raise your fists before the Soldiers and the cameras. Chant "Death to America" whenever you can. Toss rocks at the nervous just-off-the-farm GIs that comprise America's front line. Sneak around at night. Challenge the guards at checkpoints.

Look...this isn't downtown Omaha, for crying out loud. Certainly, New York Times reporter, you can sit in your little hotel room and file such reports as if you are the ACLU in Baghdad. But let's be real. Reports of late indicate that you, New York Times reporter, have taken to carrying your own sidearm as protection. Which means at some level you have intellectually acknowledged that you are in a bleedin' war zone!.

Well, New York Times is my wife. So is Sarah's husband. So is Beth's son! And they are there wearing Desert Camouflage Uniforms (in accordance with international law as established under the Geneva conventions) that effectively say "Hey, Jihadi Terrorist...point that IED at me!)

But you, pistol packing New York Times reporter, while you take extraordinary precautions in a war zone, you also park yourself way up upon your high horse and look down upon America's finest and don't give them the same break. The fact is our soldiers are doing what has to be done to reduce the odds against them (face one soldier for every 200 or so Iraqis, Jihadists, terrorists, and foreign born miscreant the odds will never be "even). Perhaps that is why they say "War is Hell", New York Times reporter.

Of course, it can't be too much there have been over 100 newspapers born since US forces have been in Baghdad.

Ironic, ain't it. The same GI's you damn with implication are daily allowing the creation of more folks who do what you do...

You disgust me.

Day 301.

Let me spell that our for you. T-h-r-e-e-H-u-n-d-r-e-d-O-n-e!

That is how many day's CPT Patti has been away (minus seven at Christmas). That is how many day's have interrupted this couple's marriage.

I know folks who have divorced, met another and remarried in less time than this.

No...our marriage isn't in danger...but you may have neighbors who are going through this as well...give them a break if they seem a little weird over it....