Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kurds Ready to Break Ranks

By Tom Lasseter
Knight Ridder Newspapers

KIRKUK, Iraq - Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.

Five days of interviews with Kurdish leaders and troops in the region suggest that U.S. plans to bring unity to Iraq before withdrawing American troops by training and equipping a national army aren't gaining traction. Instead, some troops that are formally under U.S. and Iraqi national command are preparing to protect territory and ethnic and religious interests in the event of Iraq's fragmentation, which many of them think is inevitable.

The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga - the Kurdish militia - and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted.

"It doesn't matter if we have to fight the Arabs in our own battalion," said Gabriel Mohammed, a Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi army who was escorting a Knight Ridder reporter through Kirkuk. "Kirkuk will be ours."

The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they've long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga - literally, "those who face death" - told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs.

Their strategy mirrors that of Shiite Muslim parties in southern Iraq, which have stocked Iraqi army and police units with members of their own militias and have maintained a separate militia presence throughout Iraq's central and southern provinces. The militias now are illegal under Iraqi law but operate openly in many areas. Peshmerga leaders said in interviews that they expected the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous and then independent state in the south as they would do in the north.

The Bush administration - and Iraq's neighbors - oppose the nation's fragmentation, fearing that it could lead to regional collapse. To keep Iraq together, U.S. plans to withdraw significant numbers of American troops in 2006 will depend on turning U.S.-trained Kurdish and Shiite militiamen into a national army.

The interviews with Kurdish troops, however, suggested that as the American military transfers more bases and areas of control to Iraqi units, it may be handing the nation to militias that are bent more on advancing ethnic and religious interests than on defeating the insurgency and preserving national unity.

American military officials have said they're trying to get a broader mix of sects in the Iraqi units.

However, Col. Talib Naji, a Kurd serving in the Iraqi army on the edge of Kirkuk, said he would resist any attempts to dilute the Kurdish presence in his brigade.

"The Ministry of Defense recently sent me 150 Arab soldiers from the south," Naji said. "After two weeks of service, we sent them away. We did not accept them. We will not let them carry through with their plans to bring more Arab soldiers here."

In addition to putting former Peshmerga in the Iraqi army, the Kurds have deployed small Peshmerga units in buildings and compounds throughout northern Iraq, according to militia leaders. While it's hard to calculate the number of these active Peshmerga fighters, interviews with militia members suggest that it's well in excess of 10,000.

Afandi said his group had sent at least 10,000 Peshmerga to the Iraqi army in northern Iraq, a figure substantiated in interviews with officers in two Iraqi army divisions in the region.

"All of them belong to the central government, but inside they are Kurds ... all Peshmerga are under the orders of our leadership," Afandi said.

Jafar Mustafir, a close adviser to Iraq's Kurdish interim president, Jalal Talabani, and the deputy head of Peshmerga for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a longtime rival of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, echoed that.

"We will do our best diplomatically, and if that fails we will use force" to secure borders for an independent Kurdistan, Mustafir said. "The government in Baghdad will be too weak to use force against the will of the Kurdish people."

---End of Transmission---

Monday, December 26, 2005

Iraq Out of Control

Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Violence increased across Iraq after a lull following the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, with at least two dozen people including a U.S. soldier killed Monday in shootings and bombings mostly targeting the Shiite-dominated security services.

Officials blamed the surge in violence on insurgent efforts to deepen the political turmoil surrounding the contested vote. Preliminary figures - including some returns released Monday from ballots cast early by extriate Iraqis and some voters inside Iraq - have given a big lead to the religious Shiite bloc that controls the current interim government.

The violence came as three opposition groups threatened a wave of protests and civil disobedience if fraud charges are not properly investigated. The warning came from the secular Iraqi National List, headed by former Shiite Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, and two Sunni Arab groups.

GOI: Things aren't going well when the Bush backed, Democratic, secular leadership of Ayad Allawi looses dramatically to a right-wing, radical Islamic party.


The recent lull in violence ended Sunday, with the deaths of 18 people.

On Monday, a suicide car bomber slammed into a police patrol in the capital, leaving three dead, officials said, and a suicide motorcycle bomber rammed into a Shiite funeral ceremony, killing at least two, said Maj. Falah Mohamadawi of the Interior Ministry. A mortar then killed two people in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood.

Four other car bombs killed at least two people and gunmen killed five officers at a police checkpoint 30 miles north of Baghdad, officials said.

A U.S. soldier serving with Task Force Baghdad was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle while on patrol in the capital, the military said. The name of the soldier was withheld pending notification of next of kin.


In other developments:
- Gunmen raided a house in southern Baghdad, killing three people, police Capt. Qassim Hussein said. Gunmen attacked the house again when police arrived to remove the bodies, wounding two officers, police said.

- A Shiite cleric in the southern city of Najaf and a man in the northern city of Mosul were gunned down. In Baghdad, a civilian driving his children to school and a professor were killed.

- A car bomb targeted the governor of Diyala province, killing a body guard, and gunmen killed a member of Diyala city council.

- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko paid an unannounced visit to his country's troops. His country is pulling out its remaining 867 soldiers this week.

- Susanne Osthoff, a German freed after being held hostage in Iraq for more than three weeks, said in an interview aired Monday that she was treated well by her kidnappers, who told her they do not hurt women or children.

---End of Transmission---

Friday, December 23, 2005

Yet More Evidence that Alito Would Overturn Roe v. Wade

WASHINGTON-Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court nominee, wrote in a memorandum in June 1985 that the ruling that legalized abortion in the United States should be overturned, a position certain to spur tough questioning at his confirmation hearings in January.

GOI: I think that this guy is way worse then Roberts.

---End of Transmission---

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Iraq Groups Threaten to Boycott New Legislature

By PATRICK QUINN Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Dozens of Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups threatened to boycott Iraq's new legislature Thursday if complaints about tainted voting are not reviewed by an international body.

A representative for former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi described the Dec. 15 vote as "fraudulent" and the elected lawmakers "illegitimate."

A joint statement issued by 35 political groups that competed in last week's elections said the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, which oversaw the ballot, should be disbanded.

It also said the more than 1,250 complaints about fraud, ballot box stuffing and intimidation should be reviewed by international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference or the Arab League.

There was no one available for comment at the U.N. office in Baghdad, but a world body spokesman in New York rejected a review.

"The U.N. is not going to conduct an independent review of the election results," U.N. associate spokesman Robert Sullivan said.

A senior member of the Shiite religious United Iraqi Alliance, the group that preliminary results show leading in the polls, said the protesters should accept the results.

"These statements will lead the country to new chaos," Ali al-Adib said. "Who can guarantee that when the elections are rerun they will not reject them again?"


Allawi representative Ibrahim al-Janabi took the accusations one step further and described last week's elections in all 18 provinces as "fraudulent."

Sunni Arabs may increase their seats from 17 to more than 40, while the Kurds are expected to hold between 40 and 50. Allawi, who controls 40 seats, is expected to drop to 20 seats or fewer.

GOI: Of course one has to be concerned about fraud allegations and they should be investigated. However, if it appears that the religious Shia majority has won (and if the Sunni do boycott) then the Sunni risk loosing all of their seats, again fueling the insurgency and more marginalization.

Ugh, here we go again!

Will Iraq ever be able to unite and unite without violence? Or will there always be an insurgency that could be stronger then that of the one in Israel? And what will happen with a majority, hard-core religious, Shia led government?? It seems that the only one winning here is Iran! Will the new Iraqi govt. simply become, "Western Iran?"

So many questions and as always so few answers.

---End of Transmission---

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Season's Greetings!!

GOI: There is a spirited conversation going on in my post titled, "War on Winter Solstice" and I have just posted a long comment there. I am posting it here because perhaps some of you have not been following the comments on that post and I wanted to include you. This post therefore "bumps" the conversation up to the top again:

Amadeus: What an amusing and brilliant story!! The Buddha idea was an excellent way to point out the hypocritical actions of certian Christians. The shoe was put on the other foot and they did not like having the Buddha forced upon them. I do not blame them as they are not Buddhist so I would expect the same respect to my beliefs as to not say, "Merry Christmas" (for example) to me if they do not know my faith. Or to shove the x-mas tree down my throat as well. Either we do many holidays or we do none. This is one nation of many, many faith's after all.

Christians may believe that other religions are in error but the Constitution does not...which guarantees our rights to choose the religion of our choice. Regardless of whether of not Christians believe other religions to be in error.

Since we have established that most Christians believe other faiths are in error then the framers could not have been Christian (or at least not the right kind of Christians according to the defintion brought up in the comments). Otherwise they would have established Christianity as the state religion of America (which apparently many modern-day Christians would like to do.

Let's refresh ourselves of the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

O.k., now notice first of all that they state that all men are created EQUAL. This means that ALL men...even non-Christians are equal in the eyes of the, "Creator." This blows the doors off the arguement that "God" believes other religions (besides Christianity) are in error. If "HE" did then the framers must not be the right kind of Christians, eh? Or perhaps you believe that the framers didn't do the Dec. of Indy right???

Therefore couldn't one surmise that these certain Christians do not believe 100% in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution? That men are NOT created equal with the freedom to choose a religion other then Christianity? If "God" says that everyone is created with the right to freedom then how can freedom to be say, Buddhist ever be in error??

Now, notice the choice of the word, "Creator." "Creator can mean many things to many people. Even I as a Buddhist believe in a "Creator." I believe that the "Creator" is everything that exists and does not exist. The "Creator" (I believe) is each and everyone of us and inside all of us at the same time. Yet, so does this mean that I'm not included when the term, "Creator" is used? Of course not.

Even the choice of the word, "God" is loaded. "God" is many things to many people as well and Christians do not have a corner on that market. They may believe that other religions are in error but that does not mean their view is constitutional or even correct. It is simply an opinion. Their demand to have Christmas celebrated exclusively even in the work place is not in keeping with the principles laid out by our fore-fathers. It is a divise demand in the season of coming together. I do not know of a definition of freedom after all that says it only applies to Christians or that freedom means non-Christians are in error.

Moving on, "Life" means of course life and I think that we can all agree that we are alive. So we move on to "Liberty."

Liberty means freedom and freedom means choice. Forcing people to accept a Christmas tree (one by which is presided over by the Angel Gabriel, a very Christian messanger who announced the birth of Jesus) is not allowing people their freedom of choice. After all, let's not forget that the Christians in Amadeus's story were sorely offended by the Buddha. Therefore the reason behind "Happy Holidays," and "Seasons Greetings" in a work place environment as diverse as any American city.

Surely we can agree that Jesus Christ taught his followers (at the very least) to be respectful.This would mean to me that Christians should not force their religion upon others. Such as in the work place or in a store. Of course, freedom also means that stores and companies have every RIGHT to display what they desire.

However, the RESPECTFUL, Christ-like thing to do is to not force Christmas down everyone's throat. Christ also taught not to pray openly in the streets so that you do not become prideful. Beating your chest about your faith and over the exclusivity of it's symbols and holidays is prideful.

Oooo and how easily these prideful Christians forget that Jesus (the man himself) said to render unto Caesar (the government at the time) what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. This is clearly a statement seperating church and state (the government).

Moving on, I have established that I am a Buddhist and I celebrate Bodhi day. Bodhi Day is a holy day for Buddhists (December 8th...well in the "holiday season.") when Buddhists celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha. However, because I believe in the Constitution and freedom I do not expect or demand that everyone around me celebrate Bodhi Day and wish me, "Happy Bodhi Day" if they are not Buddhists.

Is it so hard then for Christians to be inclusive and to take a break from the conversion process in this season of "Good will towards men (all men by the way...and women??) Just keep the Christmas tree to that soooo hard and offensive??? I guess we non-Christians should be saying, "Happy HELLidays" since that is apparently where we are going. If there IS a hell, however, then I suspect there will be more Christians there then they might believe. ;)

May peace on Earth reign!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Islamic Leaders Win Big in Iraqi Elections

BAGHDAD -- A coalition of Shiite Muslim political parties with ties to Iran won a commanding number of seats in Iraq's Dec. 15 elections, according to preliminary results released today and unofficial numbers gleaned from around the country.

GOI: Isn't Iran on the "axis of evil??" I thought so. Interesting form of "Democracy" that they have going on over there. One dominated by religious political parties. So much for the separation of church and state which is a hallmark of most Democracy's. I guess we should call it a "Theocratic Democracy" then which seems to me to be a "Democracy" in name only. I wonder how many Christian right-wingers would agree that an America dominated and run by Islamic clerics would be a "free Democracy?"

I don't know how much more of this "Democracy" Iraqis' can deal with!

---End of Transmission---

Sunday, December 18, 2005

War on Winter Solstice

GOI: Thanks to Nacho over at Woodmoor Village for the link to this story. I thought this post was very amusing, insightful and spot on since we non-Christians have had the very non-inclusive and non-respectful phrase, "Merry Christmas" shoved down our throats during the holiday season:

There is a war on Winter Solstice. For thousands of years humanity had celebrated the beginning of days getting longer in a peaceful and celebratory manner:... No longer. There is a war on.

Historians generally agree that the Cult of Christ started the War on Solstice. They began by coopting the symbols of this most ancient of celebrations: holly, evergreen trees and the Yule log. Those cultists even moved the date of their god's birth from summer to winter! Moreover, they outright plagarized the story of how the greek god Dionysus was born in a cave in the presence of three shepherds.

GOI: It all seems so simple to me. Say, "Happy Holidays" to those whom you do not know to be Christian. It is the polite (and from what I understand of growing up Christian) and Christian thing to do. I do not believe that I am going out on a limb by saying that Jesus Christ taught his followers to be respectful of others. Now, if you know someone to be Christian then by all means wish them a, "Merry Christmas!"

Just remember, the Christians stole Christmas from the Pagans and now many of them are trying to say that, "Happy Holidays" is stealing their holiday. How ironic.

---End of Transmission---

Violence Returns to Iraq After Elections

Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A string of attacks killed 19 people, including two relatives of a senior Kurdish official, and Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit Sunday in which he suggested that Iraq's recent elections were a major step toward withdrawing U.S. troops.

GOI: The elections were a major step forward and I am hopeful for the future of iraq. However, the glow of the elections seemed to fade as violence returned to Iraq.


The violence, including two suicide bombings, came after authorities eased stringent security measures put in place for the Dec. 15 parliamentary election and traffic returned to normal on the first full working day since the vote.

A ban on vehicles was lifted and the country's borders reopened Saturday, although the frontier with Syria remained closed. Authorities said it would reopen in a few days and did not give a reason for the delay.

GOI: This shows that despite whatever political victories may come the violence rules the day. I hate to pop the bubble of the good news coming out of the Iraqi election but that is the dirty, ugly truth on the ground and in the streets.

---End of Transmission---

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Leading Sunni Wants Compromise

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — A leading Sunni politician said Friday his party would be open to an alliance with secular Shiites and Kurds to form a coalition government to run the country once the results are in from this week's parliamentary elections.


U.S. officials view al-Dulaimi, who heads an alliance called the Iraqi Accordance Front, as a possible intermediary who could persuade some Sunni-led insurgent groups in restive Anbar province to join the political process after boycotting previous votes.

In an interview with The Associated Press, al-Dulaimi predicted that Shiite religious parties would be unable to form a government — even though they are widely expected to take the largest number of seats.

That would open the door to a coalition of Sunnis, secular Shiites and Kurds, al-Dulaimi said.


Under the newly ratified constitution, the party with the biggest number of seats gets first crack at trying to form a government than can win parliament's endorsement. That is likely to be the coalition of Shiite religious parties that dominate the outgoing government.

Still, a government with strong Sunni Arab representation could help defuse the Sunni-dominated insurgency and allow the United States and its coalition partners to begin removing troops next year.

GOI: This is a great sign that the Sunni are beginning to see the importance of the political process.

---End of Transmission---

Friday, December 16, 2005

Report: Bush Had More Prewar Intelligence Then Congress

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005; Page A23

A congressional report made public yesterday concluded that President Bush and his inner circle had access to more intelligence and reviewed more sensitive material than what was shared with Congress when it gave Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq.

Democrats said the 14-page report contradicts Bush's contention that lawmakers saw all the evidence before U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, stating that the president and a small number of advisers "have access to a far greater volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information."


The report, done by the Congressional Research Service at the request of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), comes amid allegations by Democrats that administration officials exaggerated Iraq's weapons capabilities and terrorism ties and then resisted inquiries into the intelligence failures.


Feinstein, who is on the Senate intelligence committee, disagreed. "The report demonstrates that Congress routinely is denied access to intelligence sources, intelligence collection and analysis," she said.

GOI: This isn't a smoking gun but it is indeed a bullet in the chamber.

---End of Transmission---

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Turnout Strong in Iraqi Elections

By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 15, 2005; 3:30 PM

BAGHDAD, Dec. 15 -- Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time.

The voting appeared to split along sectarian lines as expected, with many Sunni voters in the Sunni-dominated far west saying they were voting for Sunni candidates. Long lines were reported among Sunnis, most of whom boycotted elections earlier this year or were frightened away by threats.


The outcome of Thursday's vote, which won't be known for several days, is crucial. Voters will seat the country's first full-term, four-year government since U.S. troops overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Biden stressed Thursday's vote was not the end game for the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, saying the U.S. military would likely need to play a lead role in Iraqi security until Iraqi leaders manage to come up with a representative constitution if they can. Otherwise, "The question is whether we traded dictatorship for chaos," Biden said.

GOI: Excellent point Sen. Biden.

On election day, polling sites were protected by Iraqi police, while Marines withdrew to provide to a perimeter no closer than 100 yards away. "The main thing I want is the Americans to get out. Maybe they can stay on their bases for a little while and out of the city, but before long they should leave Iraq," said Hakim Rashid, 30, who, along with his younger brother Ahmad voted for the Tawafaq slate, a Sunni religious coalition led by the Iraqi Islamic Party.


"Ballot boxes are a victory of democracy over dictatorship," Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari told reporters as he cast his vote behind the blast walls of Baghdad's fortress-like Green Zone. "The real triumph is that people are casting ballots -- whoever they choose -- and that they've chosen voting over bombs."

GOI: Go-go gadget Iraqi's!!!

Yeyyyyy...I'm very excited to hear that there was a strong turn-out by the Sunni's this time.

---End of Transmission---

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ahmadinejad not helping Iranian image

GOI: Radical Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not help the image of his government with statements such as these:

Iran's hard-line president lashed out with a new outburst at Israel on Wednesday, calling the Nazi Holocaust a "myth" used as a pretext for carving out a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world.

The White House said his remarks showed why Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Germany, one of three European Union countries leading the nuclear talks, called his statements "shocking and unacceptable."

So far, Ahmadinejad has appeared to only escalate his rhetoric in the face of widespread international criticism, suggesting he may be seeking to fire up supporters at home.

Some allies warn that he is isolating the country when it needs support for its nuclear program. But supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final word on all matters, has stood by the president, even calling this week for Palestinian militants to step up their fight to drive Israelis out of Jerusalem.

---End of Transmission---

A Breath of Fresh Air

GOI: I must say that I have been impressed with the President of late as much as I disagree with his general politics and opposed his invasion of Iraq. He finally seems to be talking straight and honestly with the American people about Iraq. Being realistic and admitting errors but asking us for continued patience. I can work with that. I'm not a hard-core ideaologue who will disagree with a Republican President every step of the way just because he/she is Republican.

That being said, however, I am still a liberal so don't fear fellow libs. ;)

This comes at an exciting time in Iraq where we are on the verge of historical parlimentary elections. Progress (all be it slow) is occuring in Iraq and I am honestly starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

President Bush, delivering the last in a series of speeches about Iraq on the eve of that country's elections, said today he was encouraged by the prospect of broader political participation in Iraq, but he warned that successful voting will not make the insurgents "give up," and he urged continued "patience" by both Iraqis and Americans.

He asserted that U.S. forces in Iraq have made "real progress" in the 2 1/2 years since the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and he vowed not to pull them out "until victory is achieved."

GOI: I am still not sure what he means by "victory" but I think I believe now that we have to stay as long as it takes. Even if that means a long-term presence such as in Germany, S. Korea and Japan. We can't afford to loose this war. We have to keep trying until we get it right and unfortunately that means more American casualties. He went on to say:

To set an "artificial deadline" for withdrawing U.S. troops would tell the comrades and the families of those who have already fallen that their sacrifice has been in vain, Bush said.

GOI: I'm starting to come around to this arguement. As I have said before I didn't agree with this invasion but we have created a terrorist state and we do owe the Iraqi's to make things right. This isn't an easy decision for me to make because I have a lot of disagreement with this President in general and in this war. However, I honestly believe it is indeed in our long term interests now that we are there.

I am still worried about the fledgling democracy in Iraq, however. Especially when I hear that these Iraqi candidates basically only "press the flesh" with people in their own ethnic group.

As well as the allowance of mosques doubling as political headquarters for religious candidates.

I am also still worried about the readiness of the Iraq army but they do seem to be doing much better then before.

So we shall see if the Iraqi's can iron out these problems over time.

I gotta give the man (Bush) some least he is finally leveling with us more about the realities of the war in Iraq.

---End of Transmission---

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Iraq Prison Abuse Worse then Thought

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 13, 2005; 11:24 AM

BAGHDAD, Dec. 12 -- Iraqi and U.S. officials found more than 120 victims of abuse in inspections of two Interior Ministry detention centers, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday. He said the number of torture victims was far greater than authorities earlier disclosed.

Khalilzad also rejected suggestions from the Interior Ministry that the abuse found at the second prison in an inspection last week was relatively mild. The abuse was "far worse than slapping around," Khalilzad said.

GOI: The good news is that the Iraqi government is saying and doing all the right things:

At a news conference on Monday, [Prime Minister] Jafari called the evidence of torture an "unhealthy phenomenon."

"There is a committee following the case. My military adviser is touring all of Iraq's jails to know if there are such cases," Jafari said. "I will not allow such dealing with any prisoner."

The latest cases of abuse appeared more severe than those of beaten, emaciated prisoners found in the basement of another Baghdad Interior Ministry facility last month.

The prison inspected on Thursday was the first in what U.S. and Iraqi officials promised would be a national investigation of Iraq's detention centers. The inspections were announced after the first case was uncovered last month. U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said the unannounced inspections would continue.

---End of Transmission---

Monday, December 12, 2005

Abuse Found in 2nd Jail Run by Iraqi's

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, December 12, 2005; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Dec. 11 -- An Iraqi government search of a detention center in Baghdad operated by Interior Ministry special commandos found 13 prisoners who had suffered abuse serious enough to require medical treatment, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Sunday night.

An Iraqi official with firsthand knowledge of the search said that at least 12 of the 13 prisoners had been subjected to "severe torture," including sessions of electric shock and episodes that left them with broken bones.

"Two of them showed me their nails, and they were gone," the official said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

A government spokesman, Laith Kubba, said Sunday night that any findings at the prison would be "subject to an investigation," but he declined to comment on the allegations.

The site, which was searched Thursday, is the second Interior Ministry detention center where cases of prisoner abuse have been confirmed by U.S. and Iraqi officials.

GOI: This has to stop for Iraq to become a full Democracy. It seems like everytime Iraqi's take one step forward in progress they then take 2 steps back. It will most likely take many years before Iraq can have a, "real, functioning, representational Democracy" without scenes like this one. These are the tactics of Saddam Hussein and have to end or civil uprisings will most likely occur.

These two prison abuse incidents would be seen as a huge blow to Democracy if they occurred in America. However, somehow in Iraq we are supposed to feel that these abuses aren't a big deal.

This is wrong thinking.

---End of Transmission---

More Numbers from Iraq

WASHINGTON - Most Iraqis disapprove of the presence of U.S. forces in their country, yet they are optimistic about Iraq's future and their own personal lives, according to a new poll.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of troops from the United States and its coalition partners and less than half, 44 percent, say their country is better off now than it was before the war, according to an ABC News poll conducted with Time magazine and other media partners.

But Iraqis are surprisingly upbeat on many fronts, the poll suggests.

Three-quarters say they are confident about the parliamentary elections scheduled for this week. More than two-thirds expect things in their country to get better in the coming months.

Attitudes about Iraq's future were sharply different in the Sunni provinces and other parts of Iraq, however. Only a third in the Sunni regions were optimistic about their country's future. Shiites, who with the Kurds dominate the current parliament, had a much more positive view than the Sunnis of their own personal safety and whether their own lives are going well.

A majority of both the Sunni and Shiite population say they favor a unified country, however.

In other poll findings:

_Two-thirds express confidence in the Iraqi army and in police.

_Half now say the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was wrong, up from 39 percent in February 2004.

_More than six in 10 say they feel safe in their neighborhoods, up from 40 percent in June 2004.

_Six in 10 say local security is good, up from half in February 2004.

But the national concern mentioned most often is security, named by 57 percent.

A fourth of those surveyed, 26 percent, say U.S. forces should leave now, and another 19 percent say troops should leave after those chosen in this week's election take office. The other half say U.S. troops should stay until security is restored, 31 percent, until Iraqi forces can operate independently, 16 percent, or longer, 5 percent.

GOI: Iraqi's seem just as divided as Americans are on when the U.S. troops should leave.

The poll was conducted by Oxford Research International face-to-face with 1,711 Iraqis age 15 and over from Oct. 8 to Nov. 22. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

GOI: Some good, some bad but I think the general attitude of Iraqi's is improving overall and that is great news in helping to bring our troops home. The December 15th election is a crucial election and perhaps the most important yet. The Sunni involvement is extremely important but will enough Sunni's come to the polls to make the election legitimate?

We shall soon see.

---End of Transmission---

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Good News from Iran?

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's Foreign Ministry on Sunday offered the United States a share in building a new nuclear power plant in an apparent effort to curb U.S. opposition to its atomic program.

"America can take part in international bidding for the construction of Iran's nuclear power plant if they observe the basic standards and quality," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said at a news conference.

GOI: Is this good news or just an empty olive branch?

---End of Transmission---

Friday, December 09, 2005

Robert Clark Found Innocent After Serving 24 Years in Prison

Rocky Clark was 3 years old when his father was sent to prison. His earliest memories are images of inmates in drab uniforms filing into visiting areas as Clark strained to spot a man he hardly knew.

As child, he often thought — "Maybe if Dad would just say he did it he could come home."

But Clark's father, Robert, would never say he did it because he didn't, and on Thursday afternoon, he came home to his son and other family members, embracing them in a Cobb County courtroom after serving 24 years for someone else's crime.

"There is so much I want to do," Clark said, hugging his son. "I just want to spend time with my folks right now."

GOI: Yet another reminder for me as to how our justice system is flawed. It is also another reminder for me as to why we shouldn't have a death penalty.

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GOP tax cuts outweigh spending cuts by $44 billion

In their December 9 coverage of the House of Representatives' passage of legislation extending tax breaks on investment income, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), USA Today, and the Associated Press failed to note that the Republican-sponsored tax-cut package far exceeded recent spending cuts. By contrast, the Los Angeles Times reported, "The House-passed spending-cut bill would save $50 billion over five years, $44 billion short of the lost tax revenue." Not only did the first three outlets overlook this comparison, they entirely ignored the disparity between the tax cuts and the spending cuts, including only passing mention of Democratic complaints regarding the effect on the deficit.

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80 Percent of Iraqi's Strongly Opposed to Presence of Coalition Troops

Conservative Democrat John Murtha cites a private British poll of Iraqi's in August that showed, "82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops."

These numbers are similar to another poll that was commissioned by the U.S.-led coalition in May of last year which indicated, "[f]our out of five Iraqis report holding a negative view of the U.S. occupation authority and of coalition forces" and that "82 percent said they disapprove of the U.S. and allied militaries in Iraq." In the poll, 80 percent of the Iraqis questioned reported a lack of confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority, and 82 percent said they disapprove of the U.S. and allied militaries in Iraq.

In January 2005, Zogby International released the results of its Iraqi public opinion poll, which was conducted in conjunction with Abu Dhabi Television. It also found that, of the 805 Iraqis interviewed, "[m]ajorities of both Sunni Arabs (82%) and Shiites (69%) ... favor U.S. forces withdrawing either immediately or after an elected government is in place"; 53 percent supported attacks on coalition troops; and only the Iraqi Kurds favored the "continued U.S. presence."

GOI: And let's not forget this major news story from November 22 2005:

Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance.

GOI: While polls aren't always accurate these numbers gathered over 3 different polls in 2 years seem to show that an over-whelming amount of Iraqi's want the U.S. troops to leave.

These numbers are just more reasons why I agree with Rep. Murtha's call to pulling out except for a reactionary force located in Kuwait or Qatar.

We've won in Iraq. We found no WMD's, over-threw Saddam, trained Iraqi forces (we can continue to train soldiers from Kuwait where American troops will no longer have a huge target on their backs) created a new government and on December 15th the Iraqi's will have voted in their new parliament.

There is not much more that our military can do now so it is time to institute a gradual withdrawal of American troops and let the Iraqi's fly. We will be there to step back in if Iran tries to invade but we can now longer be a positive presence in the middle of an Iraqi civil war.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy Holidays

Well, it is the holiday season again and the debate over Christmas and other holidays of the season has begun. I personally do not have much of a problem with Christmas even though I am a Buddhist. I don't mind the Christmas tree and I do not think it should be called a "Holiday Tree" because the tree is symbolic of the Christian holiday of Christmas alone.

I don't even have a problem with the nativity being put on public property as long as the star of David, the Kwanzaa flag and other religious holiday symbols are represented as well. I also do not have a problem with Christmas programs at schools as long as children are taught about the diversity of other holidays of the season. There is plenty of room for all the holidays of the season.

There are several holidays that often get over looked at this time of year such as: Kwanzaa, Chanukah and the Buddhist New Year In my opinion, that is why it is best to say, "Happy Holidays" when talking to strangers.

However, if you know that you are amongst Christians then it is more then acceptable to just simply say, "Merry Christmas" or if you're amongst Jews then, "Happy Chanuka" is the appropriate term or "Happy Kwanzaa" amongst celebrators of that holiday.

I see it as using different words for "you" in the French language. One uses the more formal and respectful "vous" when talking to strangers and the informal, personal, "Tu" with close friends and family.

So since I don't know all of your different religious leanings I say, "Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!!"

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Iran Plans 2nd Nuke Plant While Iraq Still Weilds No WMDs

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran plans to construct a second nuclear power plant despite international concern over its nuclear program, state television reported on Monday.

The Iranian parliament is seeking the construction of 20 nuclear power plants. Russia, which built the Bushehr reactor, has offered to build more nuclear plants in Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has warned Iran that its nuclear program could be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions on the country.

On Saturday, Iran approved a bill that would block international inspections of its nuclear sites if it were referred to the Security Council. The step strengthens the government's hand in resisting international pressure to permanently abandon uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for either nuclear reactors or atomic bombs.

While Iran has frozen its enrichment program, it restarted uranium conversion -- a step toward enrichment -- in August.

The United States and European Union want Iran to permanently halt uranium enrichment. But Tehran says the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows it to pursue a nuclear program for peaceful purposes. It has said it will never give up the right to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel.

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Training of Iraqi Forces Suffers 'Setback'

By SALLY BUZBEE Associated Press Writer

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big "setback" in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.

Al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops.

Bush has said the United States will not pull out of Iraq until Iraq's own forces can maintain security. In a speech last week, he said Iraqi forces are becoming increasingly capable of securing the country.

Al-Yawer, a Sunni moderate, said he agreed the United States cannot pull out now because "there will be a huge vacuum," leaving Iraq in danger of falling into civil war. In particular, armed Shiite militias in the south might try to incite war if U.S.-led coalition forces leave, he said in an interview with The Associated Press and a U.S. newspaper at a conference here.

"I wish it were that simple," he said of calls to set a timetable for withdrawal or a drawdown.

But al-Yawer said recent allegations that Interior Ministry security forces - dominated by Shiites - have tortured Sunni detainees were evidence that many forces are increasingly politicized and sectarian. Some of the recently trained Iraqi forces focus on settling scores and other political goals rather than maintaining security, he said.

In addition, some Iraqi military commanders have been dismissed for political reasons, rather than judged on merit, he said.

He said the army - also dominated by Shiites - is conducting raids against villages and towns in Sunni and mixed areas of Iraq, rather than targeting specific insurgents - a tactic he said reminded many Sunnis of Saddam Hussein-era raids.

"Saddam used to raid villages," using security forces, he said. "This is not the way to do it."

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Kudos to (R) Sen. John McCain

By JIM ABRAMS Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON Dec 4, 2005 — Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war who was tortured in Vietnam, said Sunday he will refuse to yield on his demands that the White House agree with his proposed ban on the use of torture to extract information from suspected terrorists.

"I won't," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked whether he would compromise with the Bush administration. He is insisting on his language that no person in U.S. custody should be subject to "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment."

McCain noted that intelligence gained through torture can be unreliable and he said the practice hurts the U.S. reputation abroad.

Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN's "Late Edition" that McCain was on the right track. "I'm hopeful that that position prevails," said Lugar, R-Ind.

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FBI Is Taking Another Look at Forged Prewar Intelligence

By Peter Wallsten, Tom Hamburger and Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — The FBI has reopened an inquiry into one of the most intriguing aspects of the pre-Iraq war intelligence fiasco: how the Bush administration came to rely on forged documents linking Iraq to nuclear weapons materials as part of its justification for the invasion.

The documents inspired intense U.S. interest in the buildup to the war — and they led the CIA to send a former ambassador to the African nation of Niger to investigate whether Iraq had sought the materials there. The ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, found little evidence to support such a claim, and the documents were later deemed to have been forged.

But President Bush referred to the claim in his 2003 State of the Union address in making the case for the invasion. Bush's speech, Wilson's trip and the role Wilson's wife played in sending him have created a political storm that still envelops the White House.

The documents in question included letters on Niger government letterhead and purported contracts showing sales of uranium to Iraq. They were provided in 2002 to an Italian magazine, which turned them over to the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

The FBI's decision to reopen the investigation reverses the agency's announcement last month that it had finished a two-year inquiry and concluded that the forgeries were part of a moneymaking scheme — and not an effort to manipulate U.S. foreign policy.

Those findings concerned some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee after published reports that the FBI had not interviewed a former Italian spy named Rocco Martino, who was identified as the original source of the documents. The committee had requested the initial investigation.

Federal officials familiar with the case say investigators might examine whether the forgeries were instigated by U.S. citizens who advocated an invasion of Iraq or by members of the Iraqi National Congress — the group led by Ahmad Chalabi that worked closely with Bush administration officials in the buildup to the war.

Recent accounts in the Italian press said that Martino, a businessman and former freelance spy who was fired from the Italian military intelligence agency, obtained the documents from a female friend who worked at Niger's embassy in Rome. Martino has said he was working with a more senior Italian intelligence agent, Col. Antonio Nucero, and peddled the documents to French intelligence and eventually, in 2002, to Italian journalist Elisabetta Burba.

Burba, a reporter for the magazine Panorama, later told The Times that she was angry that the fraudulent documents "had been used to justify a war." The magazine is owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a close U.S. ally and supporter of the Iraq invasion.

Last month, Martino was further implicated when Nicolo Pollari, the head of Italian military intelligence, denied that his agency was involved in fabricating the documents. Instead, Pollari told the parliamentary intelligence committee that the dossier came from Martino.

The agency soon realized the documents were fake, Pollari said, according to legislators who were at the meeting. Although Martino's role has long been known, it remains unclear whom he was working with and whether the entire scheme was his idea alone.

After the Pollari testimony, Martino was quoted in an Italian newspaper as saying that he was working for the intelligence agency and not on his own. He acknowledged his role of "postman," as he put it, but said that his instructions were coming from Nucero.

"I did not make this thing up," he was quoted as saying in the newspaper Il Giornale. "I didn't even know where Niger was."

GOI: I'm waiting for the Bush sycophants to now come out and say that the FBI is part of the alleged "liberal witch hunts."

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Feed It

I just signed up for Feed Blitz service. If you'd like to get an email when I post something new then just sign up with your email in the box to the right that says "feed me!"

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bush Lied About Iraqi Involvement in the Battle of Tal Afar

Earlier in the week during Bush claimed that the Iraqi forces took the lead in the latest Battle of Talafar:

The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year’s assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army — with six Iraqi battalions supporting them…This year in Tal Afar, it was a very different story. The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces — 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support.

However, embedded reporter Michael Ware who was there at the battle had a different story to tell on Anderson Coopers 360 show on CNN:

I was in that battle from the very beginning to the very end. I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. green beret special forces with them.

GOI: So who are you going to believe? An embedded reporter who was actually at the battle or a dubious President who's people have been caught paying Iraqi journalists to type up propaganda in fake newspapers?? Bush will say anything at this point and if the Iraqi forces are doing so well according to him then why are we still there???

Sure there is good news coming out of Iraq but I'm not going to dress up a pig and put lip stick on it and call it a beauty queen. The news is OVERWHELMINGLY bad and you can't polish a terd.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

U.S. Concerned Over Russian Missile Sales to Iran

This from Forbes:

WASHINGTON (AFX) - The United States is concerned about reports that Russia has agreed to sell Iran 29 mobile surface-to-air missile systems, a senior State Department official said Friday.

US officials said they were studying the report by Russia's state news agency ITAR-TASS that Moscow would provide Tor M-1 short-range missiles to Tehran in a deal worth more than 700 mln usd.

But the State Department official, who asked not to be named, said: 'Any arms sales to Iran, that's a source of concern. And there are certain US laws which govern our potential reaction to that.'

The official did not elaborate but Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs currently visiting Russia, made it clear in Moscow that Washington was not happy with the deal.

Burns told Echo Moscow radio that he had raised questions about the reported sale with the Russian foreign ministry, which had promised to respond.

GOI: Wait a minute, wait a minute. I thought Georgie boy and Putin were best buds and now Russia is looking to sell high-tech weapons to one of the stated "axis of evil" country's???

I thought Reagan took care of the cold war and yet here we are again playing the missile game with Russia. Also, let's not forget that Condi Rice is supposed to be an expert on Russia and Soviet history so where the hell has she been?!! She better get her a$$ over there right now and start talkin' to the ruskies.

First Russia helps Iran build a nuclear facility and now they are looking to send $700 million worth of missiles to them!!

If we are serious about stopping terrorism "over there" then we better prevent this sale from going through. There are many reports that Iran is funding a lot of the terrorism in Iraq and especially funding Shiite militias.

The last thing we need are these missiles in the hands of the Iranians. If this deal isn't broken up by the Bush administration then I would see that as a major failure in the "war on terror."

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10 U.S. Soldiers Killed by IED in Fallujah, Iraq

Breaking News:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A roadside bomb in Fallujah killed 10 U.S. Marines and wounded 11 others, the U.S. military said Friday in the deadliest single attack against American forces in Iraq in nearly four months. Thursday's bomb struck a patrol from Regimental Combat Team 8 of the 2nd Marine Division, the Marine Corps said.

GOI: We are only in December by two days and already we have 10 deaths. We can expect to see more of these heavy attacks in the lead up to the Dec. 15th elections.

I gotta tell you that I keep going back and forth on the issue of keeping or pulling our troops in Iraq. I'm just not comfortable with either position right now. On one hand I feel that we have to stay to keep the terrorists in check and to keep it from spreading to other countries as best we can.

However, on the other hand I feel that our occupation will be forever because their will always be terrorists willing to attack and blow themselves up to kill Americans and/or Iraqi's, Jews, Jordanians, etc.

I also feel that we need to leave at some point so that the Iraqi's will step up and take on defending their country instead of using the Americans as shields. In addition, I give some deep thought to this idea that we have created MORE terrorists by invading Iraq then we have defeated and that vicious cycle will only continue so long as we are there.

Bush Co. has gotten us into a hornets nest and now things are very complicated and we are stuck in a bad position where no one really "wins."

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Good News, Bad News From Iraq

By CHRIS TOMLINSON Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. military said Thursday that suicide bombings fell in November to their lowest level in seven months after joint U.S.-Iraqi operations west of the capital.

Nevertheless, Lynch warned that al-Qaida in Iraq will likely step up attacks in the next two weeks to try to disrupt parliamentary elections Dec. 15.

GOI: It's a small victory but it's a victory, however, I think it is unfortunately an anomaly.

It other news:

Elsewhere, the U.S. command said four American service members had been killed, three of them due to hostile action and the fourth in a traffic accident west of the capital. All deaths occurred Wednesday. The latest deaths raised the U.S. fatality toll for November to at least 85.

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