Friday, March 26, 2004


This is day 320 of my darling wife's deployment.

And according to the best we know right now...we may be only 14 days away from her return.

I apologise for the absence of content seems that every day closer I get to CPT Patti's return, the more the real world requires of me.

Let's pray it is so.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


An assasination attempt on a dog. It failed.
AN ARMY sniffer dog was the target of an ASSASSINATION bid by Iraqi guerillas because he found so many weapons.

Hero Blaze, an English springer spaniel, was marked down for a "hit" after nosing out huge caches of guns, ammo and explosives.

A contract was put on Blaze's head by militia men loyal to toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. And a hitman struck as the dog was searching a roadside in Az Zubayr, south-west of the city of Basra.

The would-be killer came roaring up in a car, deliberately swerved and ran over Blaze who was wearing a fluorescent harness and could be clearly seen. The attacker then sped off.

Blaze's handler, Lance Corporal Steve Dineley, watched in horror as the dog disappeared under the car. Amazingly he escaped with only bruises and cuts.

A senior Army officer said: "There is no doubt that this was a deliberate assassination attempt. Bounties are commonly offered in Iraq and we are convinced that there was a price on Blaze's head."
Thanks to John, who suggested we train dogs to sniff out suicide bombers, and team them with attack dogs who can immediately attack the potential bomber.

I like the idea. Bet PETA won't.

France adopts a graduated system too.

Theirs has three more steps than the Spanish.

Sending children and the retarded to murder themselves and others.
A Palestinian teenager approached a crowded West Bank checkpoint wearing a suicide bomb vest Wednesday in what Israel said was a failed attempt to kill soldiers there.

In a tense scene captured in exclusive Associated Press Television News footage, soldiers jumped behind concrete barricades and sent a yellow robot to hand scissors to the 16-year-old boy so he could cut off the vest. They then ordered him to strip to his underwear...

The teenager's family in Nablus identified him as Hussam Abdo, and his brother, Hosni, said "he has the intelligence of a 12-year-old."

Although neighbors identified Abdo as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group, his family said he did not belong to any militant group, but went to demonstrations held by all of them.

The incident was the latest in a series of what Israel says are foiled militant attacks involving young Palestinians.

"No matter how many times Israel learns of the use of children for suicide bombings, it is shocking on each occasion," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites). "Israelis do not understand how Palestinians are willing to sacrifice their own children in order to kill ours." ...

Abdo, wearing an oversized red jersey, approached them in a suspicious way, said Lt. Tamir Milrad, an officer at the checkpoint.

"We saw that he had something under his shirt," he said. The soldiers dove behind concrete barricades, pointed their guns at him and told him to stop.

They ordered him to take off his jersey, revealing a bulky gray bomb vest underneath.

"He told us he didn't want to die. He didn't want to blow up," he said.

The soldiers then sent the robot to hand scissors to the boy so he could cut off the vest...

Several teenagers have carried out suicide bombings in the past 3 1/2 years of violence and there has been recent concern that militant groups were turning to young attackers to try to frustrate Israeli security checks.

On March 16, Israeli troops stopped an 11-year-old boy allegedly trying to smuggle explosives through the Hawara checkpoint. Israel said militants had given the boy the explosives without his knowledge. Palestinians and the boy disputed this, claiming the bag he was carrying ? swiftly blown up by army sappers ? contained auto parts.

Last month, Israeli police arrested three boys, aged 12, 13 and 15, who said they were on their way to carry out a shooting attack in the Israeli city of Afula.

After years of it folks come to see stuff like this as normal.
Germany can no longer afford state aid to help its yodelers buy lederhosen, the Bavarian government said Tuesday in a sign of how drastically public finances have deteriorated in Europe's largest economy.

"We no longer want to sponsor the lederhosen with subsidies," Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber said, ignoring outcries from traditional folk groups, some of whom have threatened to boycott the opening parade of the Munich Oktoberfest, the world"s biggest beer festival.
Astonishing. But folks...that is how Europe is!

Two weeks ago I bought a car from a German so CPT Patti has something to drive to work the last couple of months we are here. As we completed the transaction the previous owner showed me various papers to be kept with the car. Among them was a permit, issued by a government entity here in Germany. That permit, she tells me, I must have in the car if stopped by the Polizei. It is the permit issued by the government to allow the original owner to replace the stock steering wheel with a "sports steering wheel (to be best of my ability to tell, the difference betwee the two is the sports wheel is thicker and covered in leather.) In Germany you need the Government's permission to make such a change.

Why? Folks here have allowed the government to expand into the smallest of businesses.

(Thanks for the tip, Sarah)

That is my characterization of the news stories available today. I've told you for some time that the quantity of stories pertaining to Iraq is in decline. Of course much of the news today seems focused on the Kerryesque flip flops of Richard Clarke (Good Job - no wait, Bad Job) on capitol hill.

If you could see the same list of headlines pertaining to Operation Iraqi Freedom you would certainly have the same impression I do...they are written by folks with their fingers in their ears yelling "LA LA LA LA I'm not listening...Bush Lied, It is Blood For Oil...LA LA LA LA LA".

So...I'm going to give you the entire text of a story sent to me by reader Beth in Texas. I don't have a link for it, but I believe credit goes to the Army Times.

Because this story is about folks who know there is something bigger than themselves. Just as soldiers who serve know it as well.
Couple’s ‘little way’ makes big difference
Husband-and-wife team donates thousands to troops and their families

By C. Mark Brinkley
Times staff writer

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Try a little experiment.

Go to the ATM and check your account balance. For every thousand dollars in your account, take out $200. Got $5,000 in savings? Take out a grand. Now, walk up to a stranger and give it away. Do it again next month. And the month after. Use your vacation time to drive around the country, giving away 20 percent of what you make to others.

Then you’ll see how special Ed and Tonie Negrin are.

The husband-and-wife team, entrepreneurs from Scottsdale, Ariz., set aside 20 percent to 25 percent of the gross profits from their nationwide shipping business.

Then they give it away, to troops and their families, for no other reason than just because.

The Negrins make a good living, so the pot grows into thousands of dollars pretty quick. Money they use to buy things. Hats, T-shirts, compact discs, books. Stuffed animals and gourmet chocolates.

‘Our little way’

During a farewell here for Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune’s 2nd Force Service Support Group — many of them headed to Iraq for their second pump — Ed summed up the burning “Why?” by posing this question:

“If you get to the end of your life and haven’t been meaningful to others, what good was it?”

At the Camp Lejeune event, one Marine walked up to Ed and stuck out his hand.

“Thanks for doing this for us,” he said.

Negrin flashed an embarrassed grin and shook the officer’s hand.

“We wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for what you guys do,” Negrin told the Marine. “It’s our little way.”

That’s how the Negrins — two people, business owners with no personal connection to the military other than a love of freedom, giving donation after donation, month after month — see it.

Chances are good that you’ve seen them already, driving their SUVs and pickups emblazoned with colorful images of flags and tanks and troops. They call their campaign “America’s Truck,” a roving billboard drumming up public support for the armed forces.

“If you’re driving all over, you have this great canvas you can encourage people with,” Ed Negrin said. “You can make a difference, in that little second of time.”

That’s how it happened for him. After Sept. 11, 2001, Ed was driving near Denver when he saw a man on an overpass waving an American flag. The gesture inspired him. So he and Tonie took the $10,000 they were saving for a blowout European vacation to celebrate their 10th anniversary and went across the country instead.

It’s not a publicity stunt, though they attract public and media attention. America’s Truck isn’t a charity, and accepts no donations to offset the expense of the trips and gifts. Ed won’t even plug the name of their company.

“We feel very blessed to be in this country,” he said. “We don’t have children, so it’s not like we need a lot of money for anything.”

The couple has visited about 30 bases, posts and stations all over the country, including the Pentagon, saying thanks and giving away tokens of appreciation.

They stopped by Fort Campbell, Ky., in January and left behind a truck decked out with images of the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

The idea was to allow the command to select soldiers to drive the truck around town as a weekly loaner, an idea that scared some commanders there. No one wanted to see the inspiring Suburban parked at, say, the Cat West Showbar on amateur night.

“That hasn’t happened,” said Master Sgt. Kelly Tyler, a Fort Campbell spokeswoman and official keymaster for the truck, which the Negrins are scheduled to pick up in March. “You have to give the American soldier credit for knowing when to use common sense. The soldiers have all treated it with the utmost respect.”

The truck made it out to nearly all of the parties for 101st soldiers returning from Iraq, drawing attention at every turn.

“If you don’t want people to know where you are, it’s not the truck to drive,” Tyler said. “Because everybody sees it.”

If you haven’t seen the Negrins, never fear, they’ve got a long list of places they want to visit. Or you can log on to their Web site,, where you can download patriotic songs and pictures of the trucks, or simply request a free gift. They’ll send it out at no cost.

Such remarkable gestures of good will seem all too infrequent these days, but Ed Negrin doesn’t feel special for doing it. He says people volunteer behind the scenes all over the country to make the world a better place.

“They’re just not people that you hear about,” he said, smiling. “They’re in rural areas, or they don’t scream for attention. It’s not about personal attention. It’s about giving something back.”

C. Mark Brinkley is a senior writer for Lifelines. He can be reached at (910) 455-8354 or via e-mail at
(Thanks, Beth)
Two weeks back, we witnessed Ashura, a main Shi'a Islam holiday that focuses on the battle of Karbala (680a.d.). Sunni Islam (Saddam is Sunni) have traditionally persecuted the Shi'a.

With the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Shi'a were able to make their pilgrimage to Karbala for Ashura. We witnessed thousands of people walking to Karbala for the first time in some thirty years. Roads were closed down to accommodate the migration of people for this event.

As some of the few American soldiers in this area, we were greeted on several different occasions with waves and smiling faces.

The flag on our shoulder represented the freedom for these people to assemble in the hundred's of thousands. We saw that; we felt that. That's's the stuff you don't read about or hear about on television.

In closing, as your winter becomes spring, we are witness to a season of change a world away. Know that what you see on the World News each night is an interpretation of reality - perception is reality. Allow your perception to be in your control, not a news anchor. The United States is involved in a venture that has new rules on a daily basis. In my opinion, it is with superb accuracy that our Country navigates and negotiates an ever-changing political and socio-economic landscape.


Day 319.

And the forecast in Giessen is for snow flurries. It's the end of March for crying out loud.

(Sorry...the Southern Boy in me slipped out for a second.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Expanding the Army. I've indicated before I believe we are stretched too thin.

Depeding upon how one counts...this addition is the equivalent of 2 or 3 Army Divisions. The story doesn't say if these will be added to the active or reserve components...
The Army is seeking ways to ease the strain on U.S. troops in Iraq before the tough deployment deters Americans from volunteering to join the Army or extend tours of duty, the acting Secretary of the Army said Tuesday.

Les Brownlee said the service is already reacting to the rigors of Iraq by adding 30,000 new troops - 10 new combat brigades - to the Army and using as many new Iraqi soldiers as possible for jobs previously handled by U.S. troops.

Yesterday's ceremony celebrated Piestewa's heritage by mingling Hopi, Catholic and Mexican-American traditions. Mariachis strummed a song that simply said "Adios." They later sang the Lord's Prayer in Spanish during a Mass.

Piestewa, a member of the Hopi tribe, is believed to have been the first American Indian woman killed while fighting for the U.S. military.

Yesterday's ceremony was held on Piestewa Peak, a mountaintop named for her.

"It makes my heart heavy to think of those people who haven't made it home. This peak belongs to all the veterans who didn't make it," said Piestewa's father, Terry, a Vietnam War veteran.
At least one of four soldiers accused in the killing of a buddy in Georgia after their return home from Iraq may argue in court that they were unhinged by the horrors they had seen on the battlefield.

Attorney David S. West said he plans to have his client, Pfc. Alberto Martinez, examined for post-traumatic stress disorder...

Martinez is accused of stabbing Spc. Richard Davis, 25, of St. Charles, Mo., at least 30 times a few days after their unit returned from Iraq in July.

Davis had insulted a dancer during their drunken homecoming celebration and had gotten the group thrown out of a strip club in Columbus, not far from Fort Benning, where all the soldiers were based.

Two other soldiers are accused of assisting Martinez, while the fourth is accused of helping conceal Davis' slaying. All four soldiers remain in jail. No trial date has been set.

They all were members of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which sent 16,500 soldiers to Iraq from Fort Benning and Fort Stewart and spearheaded the drive on Baghdad.

"It became clear to me that that certainly had to have influenced these guys,'' West said. "Certainly, it had to affect them from the psychological standpoint.''

He and another lawyer for the soldiers suggested the Army is not adequately screening veterans for psychological problems on their return from Iraq.

"They basically say, `Turn in your gun, report back whenever and have a nice time,''' West said.
Mr. West has no idea what he's talking about. Wait a minute...that may be too charitable. At best he doesn't know what he's talking about. At worst, he's lying.

Take a look at this class sponsored by the Chaplains at Fort Benning, the very fort at which these guys are stationed.

Take a look at this memo from the command at Fort Carson. Go read paragraph 4.a.1. which says in part:
Military Leadership (in theater) will: Evaluate every soldier utilizing the Unit Risk Reduction Leader Tip Card (see enclosure 2) to identify soldiers at risk. Notify Rear Detachment Commanders of identified soldiers at risk.
And those were just the first two returns when I googled "reunion and reintegration training", which is the umbrella term given by the Army to this process.

And though I'm in no way responsible for giving such training, I work in the office that is...and I know first hand the incredible amount of time and resources that have been focused on screening soldiers for psychological problems before and after they return.

For Mr. West to assert it is nothing more than turn in your gun and have a nice day indicates that he doesn't have one single clue.

And I can tell you this...he'd better figure it out pretty quick. If he intends to defend this jackass on the basis of a lack of effort by the Army leadership, he's barking up the wrong tree. Because every Soldier sitting on that jury will know exactly how much effort the Army has put into this. And that will be bad for Mr. West's credibility...not to mention his clients prospects.

Let's face facts...this guy mixed too much alcohol with too much testosterone. He's a mean drunk. Can't handle his liquor.

We don't need the psychobabble, Mr. West. And as a former leader in the Army, and one who is married to a leader in the Army, I'm awfully tired of punks like you attempting to discredit what leaders do for their soldiers.

On the face of it it would appear your client is a murderer, Mr. West. A mean drunk and a murderer.
First came the years of terror. One of Abu Abbas' more brilliant failures came in 1990. It featured a fleet of rubber boats used to land terrorists on a Tel Aviv beach, where they were supposed to wipe out sunbathers. It was characteristic of his M.O. - bold, clever, and confined to civilian targets. (As in the case of the Achille Lauro, he scrupulously avoided military ones.)

Then came the outward conversion to peace. Remember the Oslo Accords, that wondrous mirage? All would be forgiven, and both Arabs and Israelis would live happily ever after. A peaceful Palestinian state would arise next to Israel, and both Arab and Jew would thrive. Abu Abbas, among others, was granted amnesty and returned to Gaza.

Then the masquerade ended. Offered a Palestinian state that would have embraced Gaza, almost all of the West Bank, and half of Jerusalem, including control of the Temple Mount, Yasser Arafat couldn't bring himself to accept victory. Not if it had to be shared.

A minister from my hometown and alma mater.
"The discussion we had was like why do some make it and some don't," he said. "Why did we make it and they didn't?"

There's no question, though, that staying alive is risky business these days for relief workers in Iraq.

"Any type of Western foreigner seems to be right now in a precarious situation," said Alfons Teipen, who teaches the history of Muslim-Christian relations at Furman University.
So you took money from the Butcher of Baghdad, but only as a good faith gesture to show you were serious about environmental and health issues which would benefit not only America, but also Iraq, since we all breathe the same air. Am I locked on to your wave length?

Not quite? Let me put on my tinfoil hat and try again
Until recently, when shoppers at the South Gate Market inquired about the availability of ruman, they weren't always referring to the tough-skinned fruit whose ruby-red seeds are said to soothe an ailing stomach.

In the crowded concourses here, ruman also is code for hand grenade. But shopkeeper Hussein al-Kenani says there is no fruit these days.

As recently as three weeks ago, there was no shortage of dealers openly entertaining offers for grenades, mortars, AK-47s and a variety of handguns, all within a mile of coalition headquarters...

All of that is abruptly changing. In recent weeks, U.S. military and Iraqi police forces have conducted raids aimed at disrupting the network of dealers supplying weapons to insurgents who continue to strike against U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians...

Few are suggesting that the arms supplies have magically disappeared. The stream of rockets arching over the city is a constant reminder of how weapons and explosives have saturated the country and remain a constant threat.

Still, the joint U.S.-Iraqi operation offers some hope that fledgling Iraqi security forces can make small improvements in the rhythm of daily life often interrupted by the pop of gunfire or the whistle of rockets overhead.
A rocket struck a central Baghdad hotel used by journalists and foreign contractors early today, but caused limited damage and no injuries.

"There's evidence of some sort of rocket hitting the hotel at about the sixth floor," said one guest at the Ishtar Sheraton Hotel.


Day 318.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Croatia drew back Tuesday from previous indications it would send troops to Iraq and sign a deal with Washington exempting U.S. troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
Speaking just before a visit to Washington, Foreign Minister Miomir Zuzul's comments represented a turnabout by the new government, which took office in December pledging to seek better ties with Washington.

The new stance was likely to disappoint President Bush's administration as it seeks to broaden a U.S.-led global anti-terror alliance. It follows Spain's decision after elections this month to pull its troops out of Iraq.
The Pentagon is rushing into service in Iraq a pair of technologies developed under its advanced research arm: a Humvee-mounted sensor for pinpointing hostile gunfire and a "command post of the future" designed to cut down on combat leaders' travel and streamline decision-making...

The sniper detector, named "Boomerang" and developed by BBN Technologies Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., is all about diluting the element of surprise in urban ambushes.

Sensors atop an aluminum pole on the back of a Humvee pick up supersonic shock waves to give an approximate location of gunfire, and sound waves measured from the muzzle blast narrow it some more.

A cigarette box-sized display on the dashboard or windshield then shows the findings. "Incoming, 5 o'clock," says a speaker inside the box.

Assailants in urban Iraq are often inexperienced, missing on the first shot, said Karen Wood, who supervised development of "Boomerang" in just two months. They also tend to be armed with AK-47s rather than more accurate rifles, giving soldiers time to return fire or get out of harm's way.
Pepsi is rebuilding its old bottling plant. Mitsubishi is planning a new car dealership. A Kuwaiti firm envisions a $500 million hotel and shopping complex in the heart of Baghdad.

One year after bombs, tanks and looters wrought devastation on Iraq's already awful economy, the country is teeming with commerce, real and anticipated. Stores are filled with new products, foreign investors are circling, and unemployment — while painfully high — has fallen by half.

"It may not be palpable, but Iraq is booming," said Maria Khoury, chief of research for Atlas Investment Group, a Jordanian investment bank. "We're seeing a big increase in consumer goods flowing into the country."

Though still very low, Iraqi living standards are higher than at any time since the 1990 Gulf War, economists say, despite the ongoing bombings and killings. Oil revenues, which fund the government and its social safety net, are near prewar levels. The World Bank estimates that the economy will grow by 30 percent this year, after shrinking last year.

Very interesting piece.
The American project to build a stable democracy in Iraq has encountered many obstacles. But perhaps the most elusive enemy is an old phantom called rumor.

Less than 24 hours after a bombing in central Baghdad that tore the facade off the Mount Lebanon Hotel, the rumors began circulating in the marketplaces and teahouses: that the hotel was demolished not by a bomb, as the Americans maintained, but by an errant American missile.

Or, the whispers had it, the terrorist attack was actually an assassination attempt, because one hotel resident was said to be a relative of the man who had identified the hideout of Uday and Qusay Hussein, two of Mr. Hussein's sons, in Mosul last summer.

More chatter: Mr. Hussein's Baath Party, far from defeated, was even now operating from a secret exile headquarters in London and planning more such attacks ahead of the June 30 transition to a sovereign Iraqi state.

Those are just a few of the rumors collected by the staff of The Baghdad Mosquito, a daily intelligence document that chronicles the latest street talk in the Iraqi capital, however ill founded, bizarre or malevolent.

The Mosquito's staff includes 6 American intelligence analysts, 2 Arab-American translators and 11 Iraqis. One of the Iraqis is a doctor and one a university professor, but several come from some very tough neighborhoods. They are Sunni and Shiite and Kurd and Christian. Some of the women wear traditional head scarves; others work with heads uncovered.

The Mosquito began last fall after American military leaders realized that rumors themselves had become a security problem, and decided to fight back. It is distributed via e-mail to an elite group of military officers and policy planners and is posted on the military's classified Web server...

One of the problems they face is that against all odds, some of the street talk proves to be true. For much of last year, for instance, the word on the street was that Mr. Hussein had evaded capture by living low, having jettisoned his security entourage, and was riding in taxis. Sure enough, when American forces captured him in December outside Tikrit, a taxi was parked nearby.

As a result, almost no tale is too outlandish to be believed. Consider the following item, which made the pages of the latest Mosquito: American commanders, supposedly humiliated by a rising death toll, were seen throwing the bodies of American soldiers into lakes and rivers all across Iraq, especially troops who had been identified as having no next of kin. (A similar rumor is making the rounds on the Internet.)
On March 20, 2003, the 1st Marine Division crossed the Kuwaiti border and rapidly made its way north alongside British allies into Iraq.

A year later, the heavily decorated unit from Camp Pendleton, Calif., took authority over one of the most contentious regions in the country...

For the Marines, who left the country in the fall only to return half a year later, Iraq is familiar territory. Almost two-thirds of the force served in the country last year.
And Camp Provider is where my darling CPT Patti is. She attended this ceremony.
On a basketball court ringed with palm trees, a place where not long ago the Iraqi army had fortified positions, 20 U.S. Army medics received on Monday the prestigious Combat Medical Badge...

Kannel and the other recipients are assigned to Company C, 501st Forward Support Battalion, Friedberg, Germany. The unit provides support to soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division...

For Matthews, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the aid station at Camp Provider Forward Operating Base, the badge is validation for all of the hard work, long hours and strain she and her medics have endured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Aside from working in the aid station, the medics also join units on patrols and raids.


And this is day 317.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual head of Palestinian militant group Hamas, has been killed in an Israeli air strike. He was targeted as he returned from a mosque in Gaza City at daybreak. Seven others were killed and many wounded.

The killing triggered unrest and calls for revenge from Palestinians, as tens of thousands took part in a funeral.

Hamas said Israel had "opened the gates of hell" - but the army said the Sheikh had been "personally responsible" for the killing of Israelis.

Security forces killed the Hamas leader in an air strike on his car in northern Gaza Strip, an army statement said.

Reports from the scene said Sheikh Yassin was being pushed in his wheelchair when he was directly hit by a missile...

"The battle is open and war between us and them is open," said senior Hamas leader Abdul Aziz al Rantissi. "Today they killed an Islamic symbol."
Question: Given the incessant suicide bombings of civilian targets over the last two and a half years, what is different now that "the battle is open?"

And just so we don't get too teary for an old man in a wheel chair, let's not overlook that he was the founder and head of Hamas...and here is a list that includes that organization's "accomplishments".

(via The Corner at National Review Online)
Osama bin Laden's terror network claims to have bought ready-made nuclear weapons on the black market in central Asia, the biographer of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader was quoted as telling an Australian television station.

In an interview scheduled to be televised on Monday, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir said Ayman al-Zawahri claimed that "smart briefcase bombs" were available on the black market. It was not clear when the interview between Mir and al-Zawahri took place.

U.S. intelligence agencies have long believed that al-Qaida attempted to acquire a nuclear device on the black market, but say there is no evidence it was successful.

In the interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. television, parts of which were released Sunday, Mir recalled telling al-Zawahri it was difficult to believe that al-Qaida had nuclear weapons when the terror network didn't have the equipment to maintain or use them.

"Dr Ayman al-Zawahri laughed and he said 'Mr. Mir, if you have $30 million, go to the black market in central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist, and a lot of ... smart briefcase bombs are available,'" Mir said in the interview.

"They have contacted us, we sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent, to other central Asian states and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase bombs," Mir quoted al-Zawahri as saying.

Andrew Stuttaford wonders aloud if Kerry's penchant for obscene language might lead the FCC to require a tape delay on his press conferences...

Jonah links to some photos of weekend peace protestors...I enjoyed the "Idiots" section myself, but the Palestinian and 9/11 conspiracy sections will make you shake your head.

UPDATE: Speaking of shaking your won't believe this.

Congressman Hayworth dishes the congressional dirt on Kerry.
"We are continuing a defense buildup that is consuming our resources with weapons systems that we don't need and can't use." — John Kerry in 1984 on the Reagan defense build-up.

It's good we didn't listen to Kerry back in '84.

What are some of these weapons systems that John Kerry said "we don't need and can't use?" The list might surprise you. It includes many of the most important weapons in our arsenal and weapons that have performed brilliantly in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

the systems John Kerry said he wanted to cancel were the B-1 bomber, the Apache helicopter, the Patriot anti-missile system, the Aegis cruiser, the AV-8B Harrier jump jet, the F-15, the F-14 A and D models, the Phoenix air-to-air missile, and the Sparrow air-to-air missile. And those Tomahawk cruise missiles that have become the standoff weapon of choice? Kerry wanted to cut the program in half.

That's what makes the recent charge by John Kerry that troops have had to buy their own body armor so hypocritical. Because if John Kerry had had his way, our troops would have had to buy their own tanks, their own fighter jets, their own missiles, their own helicopters, their own warships, their get the idea. (For the record, according to the Pentagon, all troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have body armor.)

Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric has urged the United Nations not to endorse the country's interim constitution, his office said Monday, raising a potentially grave obstacle to U.S. plans to hand power to Iraqis on July 1.

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani told senior U.N. official Lakhdar Brahimi in a letter that unless the United Nations rejects the constitution, he would boycott a U.N. team expected to visit Iraq soon to advise on forming an interim government.
Neither is this:
Former President Carter says Iraq war was based on lies
Once upon a time it was considered in very poor form for former Presidents to critique sitting Presidents. It sure seems to me that former Democrat Presidents don't see it that way anymore.

But I do...and I reckon a whole lot of America does too.
Two U.S. Army medics in Iraq have applied for conscientious objector status and want to be honorably discharged from the military because the idea of killing is "revolting" to them, their company commander said Tuesday.

The two soldiers, both privates first class, notified the Army of their request on Feb. 9, the day before their Germany-based 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment deployed to Iraq, Capt. Todd Grissom said...

News of the two soldiers' requests follow another application for conscientious objector status by Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of Miami Beach, Fla. He surrendered Monday at an air force base in Massachusetts five months after failing to return to duty while on home leave after serving in Iraq.
These stories are a week or so old, but I didn't want to weigh in until I had my facts straight.

So I sought the advice of CPT Patti's brother, Staff Sergeant Dan. SSG Dan has just ended three years recruiting duty and has recently returned to his beloved Infantry lifestyle.

Every recruit certifies that he is not a conscientious objector by his initials and signature on the Defense Department form that essentially serves as his/her application to join the Service. Dan says sometimes the young man or woman won't know what the term conscientious objector means and the recruiter is required to explain it.

So how do these cases of Sudden Onset Conscientious Objection sit with other Soldiers? SSG Dan, characteristically concise, puts it this way: "There is no reason (for it) other than they are gutless and are taking up someones spot in the chow hall."

I'd say that probably sums it up for an overwhelming majority of Soldiers.

This editorial at the Miami Herald does a pretty good job of summarizing the issue of conscientious objectors in an all-volunteer force.

Me...well, I'll just point to my brother-in-law and say - "Yeah...what he said."

Why journalists in a war zone are surprised when they get caught in the crossfire and then "demand" something be done about it.
Foreign journalists based in Southern Asia have condemned U.S. forces for allegedly shooting two journalists from the Dubai-based Al Arabia satellite channel.
The story of what happened can be found here.
According to Al-Arabiya, the two journalists were filming outside their car when the American soldiers opened fire at another vehicle that sped toward a checkpoint and slammed into a Humvee near the Burj al-Hayat hotel in Baghdad. Officials with the Dubai-based network said that as the two journalists tried to flee the scene, fearing the driver was a suicide bomber, coalition troops opened fired.

"There were many cars in the area. One of them rammed an American Bradley fighting vehicle. American soldiers fired at random, killing Ali Abdel-Aziz and critically wounding Ali al-Khatib," Mohammed Ibrahim, the station's editing supervisor in Baghdad, said on Thursday.
I note with some scepticism this individual contends the Soldiers were firing "at random". I suppose when one is under attack, as these Soldiers were, one man's random may be another man's reasoned response.

If I were to choose to go to Iraq and hang around military check points, I must accept that being caught in the crossfire is a risk I'm taking. And the last thing I'm going to count on is a Soldier in the midst of a firefight being able to tell me from the non-uniformed enemy.

So, why is it that journalists have different expectations?
The ralliers drew attention with flags, signs and ribbons at the northeast part of the intersection.

"It seems like we're getting a lot of good response," said Rick Tellez of Ceres, whose son, Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Tellez, is in Iraq. "Everybody's honking. We haven't seen any anti-war support yet."

About 15 minutes later, a cry of "stop the war" came from a passing vehicle, but it was hard to hear over the playing of "God Bless the U.S.A." on the ralliers' boom box.

They turned briefly from the traffic to take part in a ceremony that featured recorded versions of the national anthem and the official songs of all the service branches. Assemblyman Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, praised President Bush for taking on Saddam and said many U.S. fighters want to know what fellow Americans think of the cause.

"So it's important that we continue to bring the message home that freedom isn't free, that it comes at a very high price," Cogdill said.
This group reminds me of the Lutz Patriots down in Florida.

Thanks to all who beat the drum for our soldiers.

That is the way I read this story. I'm no authority on Federal acquisition regulations, but I've seen instances when non-selected contractors have sued in court, and totally halted badly needed procurement in spite of the havoc it caused for the soldiers who needed the goods.

And that appears to be what has happened here...and delaying the proper outfitting of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.

Senior American commanders in Iraq are publicly complaining that delays in delivering radios, body armor and other equipment have hobbled their ability to build an effective Iraqi security force that can ultimately replace U.S. troops here.

The lag in supplying the equipment, brought on by a contract dispute, may even have contributed to a loss of lives among Iraqi recruits, commanders say. A spokesman for the company that was awarded the contract said much of the equipment had already been produced and was waiting to be shipped to Iraq...

The first batch of equipment for the Iraqis has been paid for and was to have been delivered under a $327 million contract to a small company, Nour USA Ltd., of Vienna, Va. But the Pentagon canceled that deal this month after protests by several competing companies led to a determination that Army procurement officers in Iraq had botched the contract. Army officials found no fault with Nour.

The Army is rushing to seek new bids, but officials said that could take two to three months.

A good read about one soldier's reunion with her family.
La'Tangie's sisters say her experiences in the war have changed her.

"She's more direct," says her twin La'Tonya. "She doesn't hold back any more. She comments on everything now, and she's more to the point."

As the media drone on and on about Iraq, one year after the start of the war, they often don't get around to succintly listing the positives like this CENTCOM listing does.

(Thanks to John for the tip.)

Developed and submitted by reader Don.

Me...I like the Jelly Donut part.

It is very funny...take a couple of hours and go read it.

A story about Bravo, 1-36...Infantry guys out of right here in Friedberg.

Read the story, and notice the absence of bad stuff.
By comparison, Company B’s 2nd Platoon had a long, but rather quiet night, except for one elderly woman.

For several minutes, she stood outside her tall, wooden door admonishing the troops who had just left her house. According to one Iraqi translator working with the platoon, the woman was repeatedly saying: “I’m old. I’m alone. Why are you bothering me?”

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Staff Sgt. Mike Galaway said as he listened to the public scolding, “she’s gutsier than most of the bad guys.”

God love 'em...they don't get the respect they deserve...and no one ever talks about them unless they fail to do their jobs.
The drivers don’t usually stop to talk — just get some gasoline and head on their way.

“People going north are just like we were,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Burl, a member of the company’s 2nd Platoon. “They’re nervous and don’t know what to expect. Guys going south are pretty darn happy.”

That’s because they’re heading out of Iraq, into Kuwait on their way home. The 439th should be joining them soon. They’ve been in country since the last days of May.

This is CPT Patti's 316th day deployed with Operation Iraqi Freedom.