President Bush stepped into the Rose Garden this morning to make what was called a major announcement about Iraq.
What it boiled down to is deployment of troops to Iraq will have their tours cut from 15 months to 12 months.
WHAT BUSH DIDN'T SAY IS THAT THE 160,000 TROOPS NOW IN IRAQ WILL STILL HAVE TO SERVE 15 MONTHS.
Bush Says Stability in Iraq Allows for Shorter Deployments
By Dan EggenWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, July 31, 2008; 10:24 AM
President Bush declared today that the gains in Iraq had reached "a degree of durability" allowing shortened military deployments and possibly leading to further U.S. reductions this fall.
"We are now in our third consecutive month with reduced violence levels holding steady," Bush said in a statement delivered outside the Oval Office, moments before he flew to West Virginia to give a speech on energy.
Bush also noted that the Pentagon today is beginning a new policy that will shorten Iraq troop deployments from 15 to 12 months "to relieve the burden on our forces and it will make life easier for our wonderful military families."
The shortened deployment schedule does not apply to troops already in Iraq, but only those who are headed there, officials said.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
President Bush stepped into the Rose Garden this morning to make what was called a major announcement about Iraq.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 10:21 AM
The mainstream media is "in the tank" for John McCain, but Air America isn't.
Air America has released this video which captures the true essence of John McCain and what he stands for:
Click on diamond-shaped arrow in center of picture to activate video.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 3:51 AM
Report: U.S. 'wasted' $560 million on Iraq repairs
Special inspector general says poor security led to damaged facilities
Government "did not fully anticipate ... unstable working environment," report says
It reflects some optimism about improved conditions, increases in oil money
2008 oil revenues could exceed $70 billion, report says
From Joe Sterling and Adam Levine CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States has "wasted" more than half a billion dollars in Iraq repairing facilities that were damaged because of poor security, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction says in a report released Wednesday.
Stuart Bowen's quarterly report arrived at a price tag of $560 million by tallying the results of more than 100 audits his office has conducted.
Further billions had to be diverted from reconstruction to security because the Bush administration did not adequately foresee how volatile Iraq would be when it began rebuilding the country, the report says.
"The U.S. government did not fully anticipate or plan for the unstable working environment that faced U.S. managers when reconstruction began in Iraq," it says.
Contractors spent an average of 12.5 percent of their reconstruction contracts on security, the inspector general found.
Bowen's team also criticizes the government for poor coordination between agencies.
The lack of cooperation "contributed to delays, increased costs, terminated projects, and completed projects that did not meet program goals," the report says.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:20 AM
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The following is a list of U.S. casualties from the Iraq war through July 17.
Technical Sergeant Jackie L. Larsen
Balad (Balad Air Base) - Salah ad Din
US: 2 UK: 0 Other: 0
Staff Sergeant David W. Textor
Mosul - Ninawa
Hostile - hostile fire
Staff Sergeant Jeremy D. Vrooman
Knan (died in Baghdad) - Diyala
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 2 UK: 0 Other: 0
Aviation Boatswain Mate 3rd Class Daniel R. Verbeke
Paoli, Pennsylvania - NA
Non-hostile - accident (on flight deck)
Staff Sergeant Danny Dupre
Ramadi - Anbar
Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0
Lance Corporal Jeffery S. Stevenson
Falluja - Anbar
US: 0 UK: 0 Other: 0
US: 3 UK: 0 Other: 0
Sergeant Alex R. Jimenez
Jurf al-Sakhar - Baghdad
Hostile - hostile fire - body found
Private Byron J. Fouty
Jurf al-Sakhar - Baghdad
Hostile - hostile fire - body found
Sergeant 1st Class Steven J. Chevalier
Samarra (died in Balad) - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - grenade
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0
Specialist William L. McMillan III
Baghdad (west of)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0
Sergeant 1st Class Anthony Lynn Woodham
Tallil (Camp Adder) - Dhi Qar
Non-hostile - electrocution
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0
Staff Sergeant Faoa L. Apineru
Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire
US: 12 UK: 0 Other: 0
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:57 PM
From Fallujah To Diyala, The Target Has Shifted
Posted: 29 Jul 2008 02:36 PM CDT
I have previously written here concerning the Diyala province heating up.
More recently, it has gotten even worse.
There has been escalating violence and corruption at various levels of the Iraqi government.
There have been reports that the Diyala Operations Commander, Staff General Abdul-Kareem al-Rubaee, has been dismissed, and the MNF arrested the Diyala Deputy Governor. Now, the US military is planning a full assault on the Diyala province.
U.S. military commanders are liaising with top Iraqi brass on a fresh large-scale offensive to subdue the restive Province of Diyala to be launched early in August. The attack will be the second major military operation in less than six months targeting Diyala. The province of which the city of Baaquba is the capital has hardly recovered from the devastation the troops incurred in the previous offensive.
As I have recently mentioned, many of the Sunni Awakening groups are holding out for more money, and threatening to rejoin the ranks of their previous insurgent groups, including AQI and the 1920's Revolutionary Brigade. Our own Alex Horton wrote an insightful post about this here. It seems now that this unrest may be a sign of more to come in Diyala.
The province is predominantly Arab Sunni but sizeable communities of Sunni Kurds and Arab and Kurdish Shiites live there.
So how big of an offensive are we talking about?
Thousands of U.S. troops as well as armored vehicles and helicopter gun ships are reportedly deployed to take part in the operation. Tens of thousands of residents are said to have fled the province in anticipation of the attack. The multi-ethnic and sectarian nature of the province is mirrored in the composition of Iraqi troops and security forces. Units with Shiite majority are feared more than U.S. troops in mainly Sunni areas and there have stories of oppression and massive human rights abuses.
In protest, the U.S.-sponsored Sunni militia in the province known as Sahwa or awakening has been disintegrating with tribal leaders resigning or simply refusing to press ahead with fighting al-Qaeda.
If the Awakening groups fall apart, violence will escalate. Sunni groups are appealing to the IIP and the Sunni Accordance Front in an effort to promote some stability.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:30 PM
DoD Can't Find Troops for Afghanistan; Institutes Catch-22 as Official TACSOP
Posted: 29 Jul 2008 10:07 PM CDT
It seems as though the situation in Afghanistan might be a little hairy:
BAGHDAD - Nearly twice as many U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq so far this month, marking the lowest death toll of any month since the U.S. invaded Iraq and putting July on course to be the first month in which the American military suffered more casualties in Afghanistan than in Iraq.
It'd be nice if we could send a few boots towards Afghanistan. You know, maybe keep more American soldiers from dying and secure a country from a third-world shadow government that gave sanctuary to terrorists who killed a few thousand people on American soil. Unfortunately, America officially has no troops left:
WASHINGTON, July 29, 2008 - Defense Department planners continue to look for capabilities to send to Afghanistan, a senior Pentagon spokesman said today. ... ?Efforts to identify additional assets for Afghanistan continue, Morrell said. "Progress is being made toward that end, but I don't have anything definitive to stand here before you today and relay," he said.
First of all, I have an idea where they could find a few thousand troops to commit to a fight that, you know... actually matters.
Second, the DoD press release linked above mentioned a specific unit that is available for just this kind of mission (that is, handling shit going wrong because our national security priorities make no fucking sense). The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is CENTCOM's strategic reserve and stands ready in Kuwait to deploy within the Area of Responsibility when extra forces are needed. However, DoD has other plans for the 15th MEU:
[The Pentagon Press Secretary] did say that for the time being, U.S. Central Command's strategic reserve -- 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit -- will not deploy to Afghanistan. The 2,200 Marines of the unit now are training in Kuwait. ??Military commanders said that as much as troops are needed in Afghanistan, the strategic reserve is an insurance policy in a dangerous part of the world. Morrell wouldn't discuss possible scenarios. ??
"If we were to commit these resources to Afghanistan now, we would be hamstrung in responding to future threats," he said.
So in short, CENTCOM has a brigade-sized unit of ground troops ready to deploy in response to escalated threats. That unit, however, can not respond to an escalated threat in Afghanistan, as it would hamper its ability to respond to escalated threats.
Didn't someone write a book about this once?
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:24 PM
US may deploy missile radar in Israel
Wed, 30 Jul 2008 04:29:49
The US officials agreed to upgrade Israel's missile capability with new ballistic missile systems that include early warning launch data, a forward based X-Band radar system, and advanced versions of Phalanx automated cannons, AFP quoted a senior US defense official as saying on Tuesday.
The source added that the US also agreed to give Israel a permanent access to its Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites for reconnaissance purposes. "The agreements aim at helping Israel to create a missile capability to protect it from all sorts of threats in the region," Gates told reporters after holding talks with the visiting Israeli war minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday.
Barak arrived in Washington on Monday as part of an attempt to improve the regime's military capability and to oblige the US officials not to drop the option of a military strike on Iran for its nuclear program.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:09 AM
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs failed to send benefit packages to nearly 37,000 National Guard and Reserve members who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan because it mistakenly thought they were ineligible.
By Les Blumenthal McClatchy Newspapers
Several senators raised the discovery Wednesday, detailed in a report by the VA's Office of Inspector General, as the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing on whether Guard and Reserve members are being adequately informed of the benefits that are available to them.
"While the VA has targeted outreach programs in place to help service members, we still miss far too many veterans who need help and aren't aware of the services and benefits they have earned," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a senior member of the committee.
Murray and others have long criticized the VA and the Defense Department as not doing enough to ensure that the more than 488,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves who've been mobilized and deployed are notified of and receive the benefits they're entitled to.
Continue reading here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/iraq/story/45262.html
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:41 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
U.S. Says Contractor Made Little Progress on Iraq Projects
By Dana Hedgpeth and Amit R. PaleyWashington Post Staff Writers
Monday, July 28, 2008; A02
The U.S. government paid a California contractor $142 million to build prisons, fire stations and police facilities in Iraq that it never built or finished, according to audits by a watchdog office.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said Parsons of Pasadena, Calif., received the money, part of a total of $333 million but only completed about one-third of the projects, which also included courthouses and border control stations. The inspector general's office is expected to release two detailed audits today, evaluating Parsons's work on the contract, which is worth up to $900 million.
"Far less was accomplished under this contract than originally planned," the inspector general wrote. "Millions of dollars in waste are likely associated with incomplete, terminated and abandoned projects under this contract." Auditors did not give a dollar figure of how much had potentially been wasted, but they said Parsons got about 10 percent -- or $11.3 million -- of the $108 million of award fees it could have received.
Parsons said in a written statement yesterday that it had "some serious reservations about the conclusions" in the audits, saying the company was hindered by the violent and unstable security situation in Iraq. One of Parsons's subcontractors was shot and killed at close range while in his office, the company said.
Continue reading Washington Post story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/27/AR2008072701768.html
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:56 PM
The travesty of the Bush Administration has now extended to the Veterans Administration where the VA no longer will help wounded veterans obtain absentee ballots so they can vote.
Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth are both spearheading drives to try to get members of Congress to pass legislation making it a law that the VA must assist wounded veterans in voting.
This story is just another example of how the mainstream media continues to prop up the Bush Administration and now John McCain and stick it to the wounded veterans because you will never read one sentence or hear one word mentioned about how wounded veterans are kept from getting voting information by the Veterans Administration.
Studies show that veterans are more likely to vote than non-veterans. However, what about our deployed servicemembers overseas and our veterans in nursing homes and hospitals?
Earlier this year, VA issued a ban on voter registration and voting assistance at VA hospitals and nursing homes and among homeless veterans.
Veterans for Common SenseHome .
First, an update about our lawsuit and, second, VCS is fighting to restore veteran voting rights.
Veterans for Common Sense, in conjunction with Veterans United for Truth, appealed our lawsuit because we believe the courts do have jurisdiction and can force change. We have requested an expedited hearing, citing new statistics that show a veterans’ suicide hotline receives 250 calls a day from people in distress.
The November 4 Presidential Election has captured the nation's attention. Veterans issues are now part of the national debate. Our first reminder is for you to register and vote. The late President John F. Kennedy, a World War II veteran, said, "the margin is narrow, but the responsibility is clear."
As the debate heats up and Americans are urged to choose sides in this election, many are asked to give a financial contribution to their candidate of choice. VCS is fighting to ensure that our wounded and homeless veterans will be able to excercise their right to vote. We are working to keep veteran issues in the national spotlight.
Click here to read an article comparing Senator Obama and Senator McCain's positions on veterans and the Iraq War.
Only 58% of the US adult population registers and votes. Of those registered to vote, nearly 90% voted in the last presidential election. Each day, ask somebody new if they are registered to vote. Include a message in your outgoing e-mail saying: "Remember to register to vote today. Then please be sure to vote on November 4, 2008. This is one way to honor our fellow Americans who stood between an enemy bullet and our beloved Constitution." Many states have registration deadlines well before election day. Click here for state-by-state information on voter registration.
The Senate introduced S. 3308, the Veteran Voting Support Act. VCS has endorsed this bill and we ask you to call Senators and Representatives so this bill passes in time to help our veterans register for the November election.
In a related development, a bill was introduced Friday to allow VA to provide voter registration and voting assistance. "Reps. Bob Brady, D-Pa., who chairs the Committee on House Administration, and Bob Filner, D-Calif., who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a letter to Peake that voter registration drives are one of the most effective tools in promoting veterans’ right to vote."
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 12:37 PM
This new video from THE REAL NEWS NETWORK explains in detail how many feel Iraq is ready to explode. It is a chilling report.
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=1976 OR CLICK ON THIS LINK: http://therealnews.com/permalinkedvideorss/videolatestrealnews.php AND THEN CLICK ON FIRST LISTING: "IS IRAQ READY TO EXPLODE"
NOTE: IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING AUDIO PROBLEM CLICK ON THE MINI PLAYER LINK TO THE RIGHT OF THE PICTURE.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 9:11 AM
Citing "brutal crimes," President Bush on Monday authorized the execution of an Army private convicted of a spree of rapes and murders in North Carolina in the 1980s.
By: Mike Allen July 28, 2008 09:09 PM EST
It was the first time a commander in chief has affirmed a military death sentence since 1957, half a century ago.
The solider, Ronald A. Gray, committed the crimes in the Fayetteville area while stationed at Fort Bragg. Gray has been on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for 20 years.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said in a statement on Monday evening: "President Bush this morning accepted the recommendation of the Secretary of the Army to approve a sentence of death for Army Private Ronald A. Gray, affirming the sentence that resulted from a general court martial for multiple charges of murder and rape committed while serving as a member of the Armed Services.
While approving a sentence of death for a member of our Armed Services is a serious and difficult decision for a Commander-in-Chief, the President believes the facts of this case leave no doubt that the sentence is just and warranted. Private Gray was convicted of committing brutal crimes, including two murders, an attempted murder, and three rapes.
The victims included a civilian and two members of the Army. Because additional legal challenges are expected in this case, we will decline to comment further. The President’s thoughts and prayers are with the victims of these heinous crimes and their families and all others affected."
Continue reading here: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0708/12129.html
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 3:16 AM
Monday, July 28, 2008
CHENEY DUMPED FROM SPEAKING TO WOUNDED VETS BECAUSE HIS SECURITY DEMANDED WOUNDED VETS WAIT TWO HOURS TO HEAR CHENEY SPEAK
Cheney Uninvited from Convention for Disabled Vets
Cheney's staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney's arrival and couldn't leave until he'd finished talking, officials confirmed.
Posted: 28 Jul 2008 12:46 PM CDT
Dick Cheney was all set to speak at the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) convention in Las Vegas next month. But now he's no longer welcome:
WASHINGTON - Vice President Cheney's invitation to address wounded combat veterans next month has been yanked because the group felt his security demands were Draconian and unreasonable.
The veep had planned to speak to the Disabled American Veterans at 8:30 a.m. at its August convention in Las Vegas.
"Word got back to us ... that this would be a prerequisite," said the veterans executive director, David Gorman, who noted the meeting hall doesn't have any rest rooms. "We told them it just wasn't acceptable."
When Cheney spoke to the group in 2004, his handlers imposed the same stringent security lockdown, upsetting members, officials said.
No surprises here. This sounds about right.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:26 PM
CNN: 70 KILLED AND 300 WOUNDED BY 4 FEMALE SUICIDE BOMBERS IN BAGHDAD AND KIRKUK: WILL McCAIN CREDIT "THE SURGE" FOR THIS TOO?
Female suicide bombers target pilgrims, rally
NEW: Kirkuk authorities ban car, foot traffic till Tuesday morning
NEW: Iraq security forces find, destroy bomb in parked car after Kirkuk attack
Triple suicide attack in Baghdad claims more Shiite pilgrims, officials say
Kirkuk bomber detonates device at rally before gunmen open fire on crowd
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Four female suicide bombers and a gunman killed at least 70 people and wounded almost 300 others during a string of attacks in central Baghdad and Kirkuk on Monday, officials said.
In Baghdad, three suicide bombers detonated their explosives in three locations within 30 minutes of each other. The attacks killed at least 32 people and wounded 102 others, most of them Shiite pilgrims, an Interior Ministry official said.
Continue reading CNN report here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/28/iraq.main/index.html
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 11:18 AM
The death toll in the suicide bombings by 3 females in Baghdad is mounting.
Bombs kill 26 during Baghdad pilgrimage
Scores of others wounded after apparently female bombers hit procession
The Associated Press
updated 2:51 a.m. CT, Mon., July. 28, 2008
BAGHDAD - Three suicide bombers and a roadside bomb struck Shiite pilgrims taking part in a massive religious procession in Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding 85, police said.
The attacks occurred in quick succession as tens of thousands of Shiite worshippers streamed toward a shrine in northern Baghdad for an annual event marking the death of an eighth-century saint. The event climaxes on Tuesday.
Police said there were indications that the suicide bombers were women. At least two children were among the dead, said police officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The attacks took place in the mainly Shiite Karradah district, which is several miles away from the site of the pilgrimage in Kazimiyah, northern Baghdad.
Women increasingly used for attacksInsurgents have increasingly been using women this year to stage suicide bombings in a bid to avoid security measures. Women are more easily able to hide explosives under their all-encompassing black Islamic robes, or abayas, and they often are not searched at checkpoints.
Security forces have deployed about 200 women volunteers this week to search female pilgrims near the Baghdad district of Kazimiyah, where the Shiite saint is buried in a golden domed shrine.
On Sunday, at least seven pilgrims were killed south of Baghdad in an ambush by gunmen near a Sunni town, Madain, south of the capital.
Shiite pilgrims have frequently been targeted by car bombs and gunmen during years of sectarian warfare. In 2005, at least 1,000 people also were killed in a bridge stampede caused by rumors of a suicide bomber in Baghdad during the Kazimiyah pilgrimage.
But recent pilgrimages have been relatively peaceful as a U.S. troop buildup, a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and a Shiite militia cease-fire helped drive violence down to its lowest level in more than four years.
Former insurgent strongholdSunday’s ambush occurred in a former al-Qaida in Iraq stronghold that has been touted by the U.S. military as a success story with its streets now patrolled by U.S.-allied Sunni groups known as Awakening Councils.
Police believe the gunmen were seeking to rekindle sectarian tensions in the area.
The main Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, on Sunday said 100,000 Iraqi security forces will be deployed along with U.S. reinforcements and air support to protect the ceremonies in kazimiyah.
Vehicles have been banned from the area and most Baghdad bridges would be closed to traffic, al-Moussawi said, adding that pilgrims were banned from carrying weapons or cell phones — rules that have been widely flouted in the past.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 3:51 AM
GOP Presidential hopeful John McCain and the "talking heads" at FOX NEWS like to boast about how "the surge" is working and we are winning the war in Iraq, but how do you define "winning" when events like 3 female suicide bombers blowing themselves up and killing 11 in Baghadad Monday morning and injuring 30 others?
There is no such thing as "winning" in Iraq? Nobody has signed a declaration of surrender and they never will because there are too many factions in Iraq and not one faction speaks for all the insurgents and terrorists.
The Bush White House and FOX NEWS continue to LIE to the American public about how the successs of "the surge" means we are winning or have won the Iraq war.
NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH AS WITNESSED BY MONDAY'S EVENTS IN BAGHDAD.
COMMENTARY BY BILL CORCORAN, EDITOR OF CORKSPHERE
Iraq: Suicide blasts claim more pilgrims
NEW: New suicide attacks on Monday claim more Shiite pilgrims, Iraq says
Seven pilgrims gunned down on Sunday
Pilgrims walk to Kadhimiya to commemorate the death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim
New checkpoints have been set up to help secure safe passage for the pilgrims
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Three female suicide bombers detonated explosives vests in central Baghdad on Monday morning, killing at least 11 Shiite pilgrims and wounding 33 others, an Interior Ministry official said.
The attacks took place in three different locations within an hour of each other.
The blasts on Monday followed Sunday attacks, when seven Shiite pilgrims were gunned down in a town south of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.
The attack occurred at 3 p.m. in Salman Pak when the pilgrims were walking to Kadhimiya in northwestern Baghdad to commemorate the death of revered figure Imam Moussa al-Kadhim, the official said.
The pilgrims, all males, were carrying black flags and chanting religious songs before the attack, the official said.
Authorities are searching for the assailants, the official said.
Salman Pak -- also referred to as al-Madaen -- is a predominately Sunni town. It was controlled by al Qaeda in Iraq before the Iraqi security forces managed to gain control of much the area. Still, there are al Qaeda in Iraq cells in villages around the town.
Over the past few days, hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims started walking toward Kadhimiya, a Shiite neighborhood, for the annual commemoration of al-Kadhim's death. Many have traveled -- either by foot or by car -- from across the country, especially southern Shiite provinces.
Continue reading here: http://tinyurl.com/582mqb
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:51 AM
Sunday, July 27, 2008
This video explains why the mainstream media led by BUSH WHITE HOUSE "talking points" is flat out wrong of the impact the U.S. military "surge" had on bringing relative peace to Iraq. An Iraqi scholar explains what REALLY happened.
Source: The Real News Network: http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=1942
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING AUDIO PROBLEMS CLICK ON THE MINI PLAYER ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THIS LINK
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:49 PM
Saturday, July 26, 2008
This blogger has already provided proof that it was the Pentagon that canceled the Obama visit to wounded troops in Germany. You can read it here along with a video by NBC/MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell explaining the mixup: http://corksphere.blogspot.com/2008/07/proof-it-was-pentagon-that-blocked.html
McCain surrogate blasts Obama's canceled meeting with wounded soldiers
Obama spokesman says criticism is "wildly inappropriate"
Obama aide says Pentagon nixed visit with wounded U.S. troops in Germany
Spokesman Robert Gibbs says Obama is "comfortable with the decision"
From Alexander MooneyCNN
(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain's campaign lashed out at Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday for canceling a visit to an American military base in Germany on Thursday.
"The most solemn duty of a commander in chief is to fulfill his responsibility to the men and women who serve this country in uniform," retired Lt. Col. Joe Reypya, speaking on behalf of the McCain, said in a statement. "Barack Obama ... broke that commitment, instead flitting from one European capital to the next."
And in a McCain ad that began airing Saturday, Obama is chided for making "time to go to the gym" instead of visiting with wounded troops.
The ad is being televised in Colorado, Pennsylvania and the Washington area, according to The Associated Press. Watch the ad at Time.com
The incident is representative of the delicacy with which the Obama campaign has attempted to navigate the Illinois senator's entire journey abroad, at once staging elaborate photo-ops beamed back to the American media while at insisting that Obama's trip is not a political one by definition.
Obama arrived back in the United States on Saturday night.
The presumptive Democratic nominee had planned on visiting a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, housing American troops injured in Iraq. Watch more on the troop controversy »
The visit was expected to come after Obama's speech in Berlin, Germany, but the campaign suddenly announced Thursday that the stop had been canceled, saying Obama had determined that it would be "inappropriate."
(The visit was expected to come after Obama's speech in Berlin, Germany, but the campaign suddenly announced Thursday that the stop had been canceled, saying Obama had determined that it would be "inappropriate."
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 10:12 PM
I can appreciate the fact that Republicans aren’t quite sure how to criticize Barack Obama’s international travel over the last week. It has, after all, been an usually successful trip, which the McCain campaign practically goaded Obama into taking.
Pentagon blocked Obama’s access to injured U.S. troopsPosted July 26th, 2008 at 9:35 am
http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/16330.html Click on link to see NBC/MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell report on the incident.
They’ve tried out a few angles, but the attacks have either been foolish, contradictory, or both. Republicans said Obama shouldn’t campaign outside the U.S., but McCain did it first. They said Obama shouldn’t describe himself as a “citizen of the world,” but Reagan used the same line. They said Obama shouldn’t be so popular with people yearning to love America again, but no one’s sure what that actually means.
So, left with literally nothing else, Republicans have turned to an old stand-by: they’re making stuff up.
Obama had planned to visit with injured U.S. troops in Germany before he left the country this week. He scheduled a visit, he wanted to visit, and he arranged for the visit three weeks ago. And suddenly, the meeting was called off, and Obama left the country without having seen the troops.
“A ha!” said the unhinged right. “Obama was blowing off the troops!”
This, not surprisingly, is ridiculous. NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell had a good report yesterday knocking this nonsense down.
This was not, in other words, the fault of Obama or his campaign. The Pentagon called the shots, and the Pentagon prevented the visit. Far from snubbing the troops, Obama and his team were reportedly furious about the interference.Now, as it turns out, some of the confusion started when Obama adviser Robert Gibbs initially announced why the visit had been called off. “The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign,” Gibbs said on Thursday.
Gibbs, in retrospect, seemed to be taking the high ground — he knew the Pentagon had interfered, but didn’t want to blame the Pentagon for the cancellation.
But his statement was seized upon by the McCain campaign and the far-right in general. The unhinged attacks notwithstanding, the reality remains the same. Gibbs set the record straight yesterday.
Senior strategist Robert Gibbs said the visit to the military hospital in Germany had been in the works for about three weeks, with Gration serving as the campaign’s contact with the Pentagon.
The Pentagon cleared the Obama plan to land at the base on either July 15 or 16, Gibbs said. The plane needed the clearance because of restrictions on landing nonmilitary aircraft there, he said.
But then on Wednesday, Gration told Obama aides that the Pentagon had informed him that the visit could be viewed as a campaign stop.
“They cited a regulation,” Gibbs said of th
eir point of contact, described as legislative affairs in the office of the secretary.
“We believed that based on the information we received that any presence, even his own and only his own, would get into a back and forth on whether his own presence was a campaign event,” Gibbs said.
Obama decided on the flight Wednesday from Tel Aviv to Berlin not to visit the hospital.
Asked why he believed the Pentagon would clear the visit, then raised questions about it, Gibbs declined to speculate: “I don’t know what to make of it.”
Asked whether he thought the Pentagon set up the campaign for a political embarrassment, Gibbs said no.
Greg Sargent added:
[I]t turns out that the Pentagon did in fact tell Obama that in this case, it was not only “inappropriate,” but against DOD rules, for him to conduct the visit with campaign staff.
“We have longstanding Department of Defense policy in regards to political campaigns and elections,” Pentagon spokesperson Elizabeth Hibner told me. “We informed the Obama staff that he was more than welcome to visit as Senator Obama, with Senate staff. However, he could not conduct the visit with campaign staff.”
Another bogus McCain campaign attack to add to the list.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:58 PM
This really doesn't come as a suprise to anyone who has followed the Iraq war from the start in 2003.
The Bush administration, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, misued Iraq intelligence to lead the United States into war with Iraq.
Bush misused Iraq intelligence
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush and his top policymakers misstated Saddam Hussein's links to terrorism and ignored doubts among intelligence agencies about Iraq's arms programs as they made a case for war, the Senate intelligence committee reported on Thursday.
The report shows an administration that "led the nation to war on false premises," said the committee's Democratic Chairman, Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia. Several Republicans on the committee protested its findings as a "partisan exercise."
The committee studied major speeches by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials in advance of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, and compared key assertions with intelligence available at the time.
Statements that Iraq had a partnership with al Qaeda were wrong and unsupported by intelligence, the report said.
It said that Bush's and Cheney's assertions that Saddam was prepared to arm terrorist groups with weapons of mass destruction for attacks on the United States contradicted available intelligence.
Such assertions had a strong resonance with a U.S. public, still reeling after al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Polls showed that many Americans believed Iraq played a role in the attacks, even long after Bush acknowledged in September 2003 that there was no evidence Saddam was involved.
The report also said administration prewar statements on Iraq's weapons programs were backed up in most cases by available U.S. intelligence, but officials failed to reflect internal debate over those findings, which proved wrong."
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:26 PM
The right wing media led by FOX NEWS keep saying Barack Obama blew off meeting with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The claim is a lie and here is the proof that Obama did meet with U.S. troops in Afghanistan:
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 11:31 AM
GOP Presidential hopeful JOHN McCAIN and the mainstream media, especially FOX NEWS, continue to LIE to the American public that "the surge" has brought peace and order back to Baghdad.
The following is a report of what happened in Baghdad on Saturday, July 26 ALONE:
#1: A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol in Ghazaliyah, western Baghdad at 3 p.m. Friday injuring two soldiers.
#2: A roadside bomb detonated in the afternoon inside a popular market in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, wounding six people, including three security members, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.Around 2 pm a roadside bomb targeted civilians in Kamb Sara in Adhamiyah neighborhood (north Baghdad). Six people were injured (including 1 policeman and two Sahwa members).
#3: Another roadside bomb went off before midday near an Iraqi army patrol in Baghdad's northern neighborhood of Sleikh, wounding two soldiers and a civilian along with damaging one of the patrol's vehicles, the source said.
#4: A third explosion occurred in the day near some dustmen in the al-Jihad neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad, injuring two of them and caused damages to a nearby vehicle, the source added.
MEANWHILE, IN KIRKUK THIS HAPPENED:
Kirkuk:#1: On Friday night a gunman with silencer opened fire on an American patrol in downtown
Kirkuk. A 14 year-old kid was killed in that incident .
#2: In the morning gunmen opened fire on a combined patrol from Iraqi security forces and Americans. One Iraqi policeman was killed and another was injured
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 10:30 AM
There is a lull in the fighting and violence in Iraq, but sources in Iraq say it is only temporary.
Iraqi insurgents have been recruiting women who are seeking revenge for the loss of loved ones to become suicide bombers.
When the female suicide bombers will take to the streets of Baghdad and other cities is anyone's guess, but many think it will coincide with the Presidential election in the United States.
Women suicide bombers seeking revenge in IraqUS forces say insurgents recruiting women driven by revenge to act as suicide bombers in Iraq.
BAQUBA, Iraq - In the war-ravaged streets of Iraq, US-led forces say insurgents are recruiting women driven by revenge to act as suicide bombers in the latest tactic against coalition troops.
Motivated by poverty, desperation or vengeance against the US-led military they blame for the deaths of family members, Iraqi women are joining the insurgency
Thursday evening a female suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 20 after she detonated her explosives-filled vest in Baquba, the capital of Diyala, one of the most dangerous regions in the country.
The bomber targeted a Sahwa or Awakening patrol of Iraqi forces -- former insurgents recruited to fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq and paid by the US military.
The blast demonstrates a growing trend of using women in insurgent attacks.
"One of the reasons for women to kill like this is a desire for vengeance," said Captain Kevin Ryan, commander of a US base in Baquba. "Often, they have lost parents, brothers or children in the fighting."
"Some want vengeance for the fact their families have disappeared," said Iraqi army Colonel Ali Al-Karkhi, who is responsible for security in the Khan Bani Saad district 30 kilometres (19 miles) outside Baquba.
"Last year in the Magdadiya district, a woman who had five sons killed by the Iraqi police, blew herself up close to a group of police recruits looking to join up," he said.
Women without education, or even those who suffer from learning disabilities, are Abu Zarra, leader of an Awakening group west of Baquba, described how some months ago he was visited by a young woman dressed in a long black dress which covered her whole body.
"She was about 17 or 18-years-old and she asked for help. She said she needed to see Abu Zarra. She spoke to me without knowing who I was," he explained.
The tribal chief left to go to a wedding and decided to leave the woman in the care of one of his guards. It was a decision which saved the chief's life.
"She opened her dress and blew herself up," he said. "Three were killed and two wounded. One of my guards was burned alive."
Fearful for their safety, US soldiers patrolling the streets avoid women wearing these long dresses. "Each time you see one, you wonder if she is going to blow herself up," one soldier said.
"Women use attacks as a protest. In Iraq, they are protesting at the loss of their men, the loss of their society and the loss of their country," said Farhana Ali, a US international policy analyst.
"We can't assume that all Iraqi women suicide attackers are exploited and recruited. We have to ask how many women are doing this because they want to -- that's the more serious question," said Ali.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:47 AM
Friday, July 25, 2008
For women in the military, this election season has the potential either to focus a spotlight on long-neglected needs or to continue rendering us invisible. Due to our military training, we often struggle to exercise our right to speak out, but now we need systemic and systematic change, both to do justice to service members and to create healthier communities for everyone.
By Jennifer Hogg, Women's Media CenterPosted on July 25, 2008, Printed on July 25, 2008
I was still in high school in 2000 when I joined up, looking for a fuller life than I saw available to me in blue-collar Buffalo, N.Y. But would I have ever joined the military if higher education were not so hard to fund? Would the young, the poor, the single mothers feel their only option was to enlist if adequate housing, jobs and health care were more readily available?
These are fundamental social inequalities that funnel people into the military. We hope to escape the injustice of racism, sexism and homophobia by proving ourselves -- by being able to say, "I served. I earned my place here." And service does earn us praise, but only as long as we don't rock that boat.
For the military, this election has heavy stakes, with two occupations taking place simultaneously, in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and a third waiting in the wings. Such high stakes tend to push aside other issues, and we risk being forced into silence for fear that the boat may capsize. But if it's that close to going under, isn't it time for a better boat?
Female veterans know this feeling all too well. All service members are taught to never question a mission.
For female service members, this silence can have particularly dangerous consequences. When I began basic training, I never expected the culture of fear that service women take pride in living through. From a young woman ready to stand for what was right, I was being turned into a person who shrugged off injustice. When I helped another female recruit report a physical assault, I saw her become the target of widespread verbal harassment. The lesson? Bearing indignity silently in private is far better than risking public ridicule from those who choose to make you a target.
Imagine if those flashy recruiting commercials showed the real dangers a woman can face while serving in the military, living her formative years in a hazardous work environment where racism and homophobia are tolerated for the sake of "getting by" and sexual harassment goes unreported so you don't "ruin his career." All this while women work twice as hard to prove themselves as soldiers -- more than just a "bitch," "dyke," "whore."
Continue reading: http://www.alternet.org/story/92289/
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 6:36 PM
GOP Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain lives by the old adage that if you say it often enough eventually people will believe you are telling the truth.
Not necessarily so especially when it comes to the so-called success of "the surge" as witnessed by this report.
20 Iraqis Killed, 39 Wounded
A female suicide bomber ended this week's relative peace when she attacked an Awakening Council patrol in Baquba today. Overall, at least 20 Iraqis were killed and 39 more were wounded in the latest attacks. No Coalition deaths were reported, but U.S. forces came under fire in Kirkuk and killed a teenager in retaliatory gunfire. Meanwhile, Turkey targeted PKK locations in northern Iraq, but the number of casualties there is unknown.
U.S. forces in Kirkuk came under a small arms attack. They returned fire killing a teenager sitting in a sedan. One U.S. soldier was wounded. Three suspects were captured in a separate incident.
A female suicide bomber attacked a group of Awakening Council (Sahwa) members in Baquba. Eight of them were killed, while as many as 30 people were wounded. A Sahwa leader was among the dead.
In Baghdad, two attacks in the Adhamiya neighborhood left three Sahwa members dead and two more wounded; one gunman was injured as he made his escape. In Zaafaraniya, a bomb wounded a senior Shi'ite leader and three of his bodyguards. One dumped body was discovered.
Also, U.S. forces captured 20 suspects across the city, while the Iraqi army detained at least 45 more.
In Mosul, three bodies were found. A suicide bomber killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded two more at a checkpoint in al-Intisar.
Two bodies were found in Yusufiya.
At least 18 more suspects were detained in Hilla during an ongoing security operation in Babel province. A number of weapons was confiscated as well.
A kidnapping victim was freed in Missan province. One of her captors was captured.
In Basra, katyusha rockets landed on the British base at the airport. No casualties were reported but British warplanes returned the fire.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:12 PM
Editor's note: CNN agreed to change the names of the two men in this article to protect their identities.
By Frederik Pleitgen, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Wayne DrashCNN
Rami and Kamal, both gay Iraqis, say they rarely show affection for men in public.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Kamal was just 16 when gunmen snatched him off the streets of Baghdad, stuffed him in the trunk of a car and whisked him away to a house. But the real terror was about to begin.
The men realized he was gay, Kamal said, when he took his shirt off and they saw that his chest was shaved.
"They told me to take off my clothes to rape me or they would kill me immediately. This moment was the worst moment in my life," he said, weeping as he spoke of the 2005 ordeal.
"I was watching them taking off their clothes, preparing to rape me. I did not know what to do, so I started shouting loudly, 'Please do not do that! I will ask my family to give you whatever you want.' " Watch the tormented life of gays in Iraq »
His pleas went unheeded. "The other two kidnappers took off my clothes by force, and, at that time, I saw them as three dirty animals trying to tear my body apart."
He was held for 15 days, released only after his family paid a $1,500 ransom. He was raped every day. Only once, he said, was he allowed to talk to his family during captivity. "I told my family that I was beaten by them, but I did not dare to tell my family that I was raped by them. I could not say it, it's too much shame."
CNN spoke with Kamal, now 18, and his 21-year-old friend Rami about what it's like to be gay in Iraq. Coming out as gay is not easy in any country, but to do so in Iraq could mean a death sentence or torture.
The two men rarely show feelings toward each other in public. They spend a lot of time in Internet cafes in Baghdad, surfing gay chat rooms and seeking contacts with other gay men in Iraq and elsewhere.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the situation for gays and lesbians in Iraq has deteriorated. Ridiculed under Hussein, many now find themselves the targets of violence, according to humanitarian officials.
Lesbians are also victims of harassment and violence, but not nearly as often as gay men.
Rest of CNN story here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/24/gay.iraqis/index.html
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 10:53 AM
(CNN) -- The death of an Air Force technical sergeant in Iraq last week quietly brought a somber milestone: One hundred American female service members have died in Iraq, according to a CNN count of Pentagon figures.
A U.S. Army bugler plays taps during burial services for a female soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 2005.
The latest death was Tech. Sgt. Jackie L. Larsen, 37, of Tacoma, Washington, who died of natural causes July 17 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. She was assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, California, according to the Pentagon.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:48 AM
With His Blog Kaboom, a Young Soldier Told of His War. Last Month, the Army Made Him Shut It Down.
By Ernesto LondoñoWashington Post Foreign Service Thursday, July 24, 2008; Page C01
There was a boy who went to war, like many other boys before him. Maybe it made him a man, maybe it didn't. Maybe he already was a man, maybe he wasn't. Maybe it doesn't matter, maybe none of it does, maybe it all does. Maybe.
The Lieutenant's Lingo
-- Lt. G, March 4
He was an unlikely warrior, this scrawny boy from Reno, Nev., the son of two lawyers, raised in the suburbs.
He had a way with words, this boy. When his Stryker unit deployed to Iraq last winter, he was a rookie platoon leader who had never seen combat. And like many other soldiers before him, he decided he'd chronicle the war on a blog. Intending to keep family and friends abreast of the follies and pitfalls of soldiering in a five-year-old war that now relies less on gunfire and more on diplomacy, this boy, under the pen name Lt. G, launched "Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal."
An indictment of the war it was not. Lt. G's dispatches -- at turns hilarious, maddening and terrifying -- provided raw and insightful snapshots of a conflict many Americans have lost interest in.
Word got around, and more and more readers closely followed the postings of 25-year-old Lt. Matthew Gallagher, with the site drawing tens of thousands of page views. By the time Kaboom went kaput last month -- Lt. G was ordered to take down his blog -- it had a following that would be the envy of many a small-town paper.
The blog's downfall was a May 28 posting that, in violation of military blogging rules, Gallagher failed to have vetted by a supervisor. (That the posting depicted an officer in the unit unflatteringly might have played a role. Gallagher declined a request to comment.)
Continue reading Washington Post story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/23/AR2008072303970.html
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 12:09 AM
Thursday, July 24, 2008
There has been a lot of banter lately about "the surge," but lost in all the bluster by talking heads on TV is "the surge" was designed to help Iraq bring about unification so elections could be held and the Iraqi government could be officially formed.
"The surge" was never about military accomplishments, but you would never know it if you only listened to the blabbermouth on FOX NEWS, CNN and MSNBC.
Now comes word, the President of Iraq says an election will have to be put off until 2009 because factions in Iraq can't get together on certain issues regarding the election.
Iraqi President Vows Veto of Election Bill
Measure Passed After Kurdish Boycott; Balloting Is Now Unlikely Until 2009
By Amit R. PaleyWashington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, July 24, 2008; Page A16
BAGHDAD, July 23 -- President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday that he would veto a measure governing provincial elections scheduled for this year, making it all but certain that the balloting will be delayed until 2009.
The announcement was a setback for both the Bush administration and the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which hailed a preliminary election law passed earlier this year as evidence of political progress in Iraq. The ongoing disagreements over the polling have instead highlighted the sectarian fissures that still divide the country.
Talabani, a Kurd, said the bill passed by parliament Tuesday was unconstitutional and had been approved by only 127 lawmakers from the 275-member parliament, after the Kurdish delegation walked out in protest. For a bill to become law, it must be approved by the three-member presidency council, which Talabani heads.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:19 PM
Bush Bans State Department Officials From Obama Rally
In a flagrant political act, the State Department has barred its employees from attending Sen. Barack Obama's speech in Berlin tonight.
Under the pretense that he is maintaining political neutrality, the Washington Post reported today, State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy has interpreted the Foreign Affairs Manual in the most restrictive way, claiming that he is ensuring that foreign service officials will remain untainted by a "partisan political act." (Spouse and family members, however, have generously been excluded from this ruling.)
The U.S. embassy, which is headed by ambassador Robert Timken, a businessman and crony of George W. Bush's from Ohio, who is widely reviled in Germany for his ignorance of foreign affairs, has instructed officials not to attend the rally.
The American Foreign Service Association has complained about the edict but there's not enough time to dispute it. Funny that.
The truth is that there would probably be few better opportunities for embassy officials to get a feel for the views of the Germans by mixing with them during the rally. Of course, the sentiments expressed by Germans, who worship Obama as much as they loathe George W. Bush, might not be ones that the administration is eager to hear.
Indeed, the administration has a long and tawdry record of trying to browbeat government agencies into submission, whether it's the CIA or the Centers for Disease Control. The State Department is perhaps highest on the list of conservatives and neocons who see it as the center of disloyalty and treachery. But this latest action represents a new low.
If it's going to these lengths, the Bush administration must be really worried about Sen. John McCain's prospects.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 12:46 PM
Pentagon Auditors Pressured To Favor Contractors, GAO Says
By Dana HedgpethWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, July 24, 2008; D01
Auditors at a Pentagon oversight agency were pressured by supervisors to skew their reports on major defense contractors to make them look more favorable instead of exposing wrongdoing and charges of overbilling, according to an 80-page report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which oversees contractors for the Defense Department, "improperly influenced the audit scope, conclusions and opinions" of reviews of contractor performance, the GAO said, creating a "serious independence issue."
The report does not name the projects or the contractors involved, but staff members on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who were briefed on the findings cited seven contractors, some of whom are among the biggest in the defense industry: Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Fluor, Parker Hannifin, Sparta, SRS Technologies and a subsidiary of L3 Communications.
Continue reading here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/23/AR2008072301437.html?wpisrc=newsletter
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:44 AM