Friday, February 15, 2008


FOX NEWS is doing their level best to try and sell their audience on the idea that the "surge" has been a roaring success. On Friday, FOX NEWS had one of their reporters touring a market in Falluja, Iraq with a U.S. Army General. The point of the news piece was to give the impression that Iraq is a "sea of calm."

However, FOX NEWS conveniently overlooked what was taking place in the rest of Iraq and Afghanistan in their rush to judgement.

Iraq and Afghanistan are anything but a "sea of calm," and violence continues all across both countries.

Commentary by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE, the blog devoted to telling ALL the facts about Iraq and not Bush White House and FOX NEWS spin.


War News for Friday, February 15, 2008

The DoD is reporting the death of a soldier previously not reported by CENTCOM. Staff Sgt. Javares J. Washington died in a vehicle accident in at Camp Buehring in Kuwait City, Kuwait on Monday, February 11th. No other details were released and the incident is under investigation.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: An IED attached to a civilian car exploded targeting a Sahwa checkpoint in Ghazaliyah this afternoon, killing 2 people, one of which was a Sahwa member and injuring 4, 2 of which were Sahwa members.

#2: 4 bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today. 1 in Qahira, 1 in Binook, 1 in Hurriyah and 1 in Saidiyah.Diyala Prv:#1: Diyala Police found 5 bodies in one place in al-Salam neighbourhood, 20 km to the north of Baquba. They were found on the side of the road.

There was evidence of torture and each had several gunshot wounds in the head.Balad Ruz:#1: Gunmen in a police uniforms manning a fake checkpoint kidnapped four people from one family on Friday, including two women, near the town of Balad Ruz, about 70km (45 miles) northeast of Baghdad, police said.

#2: Police found the body of a man with gunshot wounds on Friday, a day after he had been reported kidnapped in Balad Ruz, police said.Hawija:

#1: Raids on al-Qaida forces in northern Iraq have left seven insurgents dead, the U.S. military said. But local police said Friday that two women and two U.S.-allied fighters were among those killed. An Iraqi police officer in the area, however, said a house that was bombed belonged to a Sunni Arab and tribal leader, and that six family members died. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said the bombing occurred about 33 miles southwest of Kirkuk and two of the victims were women. Another two of those killed, he said, were part of an Awakening Council, one of the Sunni groups that last year abandoned their support for al-Qaida and began joining the U.S. in its effort to clear out insurgent forces.

Two U.S. helicopters opened fire at a house in al-Zab area, al-Huweija district, (70 km) south of Kirkuk, killing eight civilians of the same family who were inside the house at the time," the source, who did not want his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq. " Unidentified persons opened fire at the two U.S. helicopters, which fired back," the source said, not determining whether the attacked house was the source of the fire. "So far we are not certain whether the fire opened at the U.S. helicopters were from that house or another nearby place," indicated the source, adding the fatalities were two men, a woman and five children.

Mosul:#1: in an operation Wednesday in southeast Mosul, the U.S. military said it killed an insurgent wearing a suicide belt who shot at troops as they were targeting the building of an alleged al-Qaida supporter.Tal Afar:#1: At least four people were killed and 13 wounded in northern Iraq when two suicide bombers with explosive vests blew themselves up at the entrance to a Shi'ite mosque during Friday prayers, police said. The bombers struck in the afternoon in Tal Afar, 420 km (360 miles) northwest of Baghdad.#2: A few minutes later, the second attacker ran toward people who were busy in the aftermath of the first explosion. "But police opened fire on him before he reached the people," the mayor said. A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release information, said the second attacker blew himself up without causing casualties.

Afghanistan:#1: Insurgents ambushed a police vehicle in southwest Afghanistan, and the three-hour gunbattle that followed left four policemen dead. Two other police officers were wounded in Thursday's clash in Nimroz province, said Gen. Mohammad Ayub Badakhshi, the provincial police chief.Taliban fighters attacked a police patrol, killing four policemen, wounding two others and taking away two more in southwestern Afghan province of Nimruz, provincial governor said Friday.

Casualty Reports:Pfc. Wes Hixon of Cody, 22, is in critical condition after his vehicle was struck by a bomb Feb. 8 near Baghdad.Four other soldiers with him in the cab of the vehicle died. Six others who were in the vehicle's transport area are in critical condition, according to family friend Brenda Marchese and other members of Families on the Frontline. As a member of the 25th Infantry Division, he was driving a Stryker on patrol five miles outside Baghdad when it ran over an improvised explosive device that blew the 8-ton vehicle in half.

They may be shopping in Falluja, but the rest of Iraq is a "sea of violence" instead of a "sea of calm."


You won't hear FOX NEWS or the Bush administration talking about this, but the U.S. has shelled out $38M to Iraqis it has killed.

Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE,, the blog of the truth about what is REALLY happening in Iraq.

U.S. has paid $38M to Iraqis it killed

Published: Feb. 13, 2008 at 11:29 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- In its efforts to win support from Iraqis, the U.S. military has made $38 million worth of payments to the families of civilians they have killed since 2004.

Most of the money has been distributed in the areas of the country where Iraq's Sunnis live, and some Shiite dominated areas in the south have not received any funds.

The cash handouts, known as condolence payments, are made at the discretion of mid-ranking U.S. officers in local areas and come from a special military fund called the Commanders' Emergency Response Program.

A recent audit of the program carried out for Congress by the Special Inspector General for Iraq found that, of the $38 million paid out since 2004, more than half, $21.35 million, was distributed in Anbar province; $5.5 million was given out in Baghdad, but none was spent in Basra.Pentagon officials budgeted $10.8 million for the payments in 2007 -- an increase of nearly one-third over 2006.

The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, a non-profit that advocates compensation for civilians harmed or killed by U.S. military operations, supports the condolence program but says more information should be collected about the process of distribution.

The payments "aren't just handouts," said CIVIC Executive Director Sarah Holewinski. "They're necessary strategy in a place where the United States needs the support of the population."

Holewinski called the program "a tremendous opportunity to create goodwill among Iraqis" but added that the accounting for the payments was "so vague as to be irrelevant in determining success or failure.""Who was paid? How much? Importantly, who wasn't paid and why?" asked Holewinski."Inadequate records on civilian harm -- and help -- deny the military the chance to prove effective implementation and ultimately the success of the condolence system."


The Bush Administration and their mouthpiece FOX NEWS can continue to brag about the success of the "surge" and how the Iraqi government is coming together, but the truth is over 2 million Iraqi children lack adequate nutrition.

Bill Corcoran, editor, of CORKSPHERE., the blog that tells the inside story of what is REALLY happening in Iraq.

Iraq's children 2007: a year in their life

State of Iraq's Children 2007

At least 2 million Iraqi children lacked adequate nutrition (according to the WFP assessment of food insecurity in 2006) and faced a range of other threats including interrupted education, lack of immunization services and diarrhoea diseases.Only 28% of Iraq's 17 year olds sat their final exams in summer, and only 40% of those sitting exams achieved a passing grade in South and Central Iraq.

Early estimates from the Ministry of Education show that net primaryenrolment rates may have fallen from 86% in 2004 to 46% in 2006 (although the estimated 2 million refugees and the lack of a current census may have contributed to this decline).

However, millions were able to return to school in November, despite the many challenges.Many of the 220,000 school-aged internally displaced children had their education interrupted, adding to the estimated 760,000 children out of primary school in 2006.One third of children in remote and hard-to-reach areas (28 out of 117 districts) were cut off from health outreach services, including immunization, as a result of insecurity.Only 40% of children nationwide had reliable access to safe drinking water, and only 20% outside Baghdad had a working sewerage serviceAn estimated 600,000 children had been displaced since 2006, the vast majority unable to return home.

By the end of the year, approximately 75,000 children and their families were living in temporary shelters. A fewfamilies did begin to return: 50,000 refugees and 10,000 IDPs were registered between September and December 2007, according to the Iraq Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) and InternationalOrganization for Migration (IOM).

Hundreds of children lost their lives to violence and thousands fell into poverty after their main family wage-earner was kidnapped or killed. A drop in violent incidents was reported by the UN from July 2007,particularly around Baghdad.Approximately 1,350 children were detained by military and police authorities, many for alleged security violations (this includes a small number of detentions that may have occurred in 2006 or previously).


The U.S. Army is stretched so thin with deployments to Iraq that recruiters in three states are now trying a new tactic to lure young men and women into the Army.

They are offering up to $40,000 in a down payment for a house if the person enlists in the Army.

The new Army slogan could be: "Be All You Can. Join the Army. Get a House."

It continues to baffle this blogger how the media in the United States avoids writing about the war in Iraq and the long deployments our troops face.

This story from the ARMY TIMES is living proof the United States Army is suffering for new recruits and will do anything and pay anything to get someone to sign on the dotted line.

By Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE, a blog that tells the TRUTH about conditions in Iraq with the U.S. military.

Recruiters try offering home down payments

By Michael Hill - The Associated PressPosted : Thursday Feb 14, 2008 13:06:07 EST

ALBANY, N.Y. — How’s this for a recruiting slogan? Join the Army, Buy a House.

Faced with the challenge of expanding the Army in wartime, the military is testing an incentive program that pays enlistees up to $40,000 toward a home or a startup business after their commitment. The “Army Advantage Fund” program is being tested here and four other areas —Cleveland, Seattle, San Antonio and Montgomery, Ala., — for the next six to nine months.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, in Albany Wednesday to promote the pilot program, said it will help the Army compete for high school graduates and recognize soldiers in a time of conflict.

“The Army Advantage Fund will ensure that the quality of life of our soldiers and their families equals the substantial quality of service that they give to the nation,” said Freakley, who is responsible for recruiting as head of the Army Accession Command.

Under the program begun Feb. 4, enlistees who commit to five years of active service are eligible for $40,000, while reservists can receive $20,000 for five years. Lesser cash incentives are being offered for three- and four-year enlistments.

The premium is being rolled out as recruiters face challenges attracting enlistees during the war in Iraq. While the Army met its goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers in the past fiscal year, officials have acknowledged they face challenges trying to increase active-duty Army, National Guard and Reserve rosters by 74,000 within the next four years.

The Army is already moving ahead with enticements like accredited college hours for training programs so soldiers can earn associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

Freakley said the Army needs to be creative to compete with businesses and schools for high school graduates, and providing money for housing or entrepreneurship scored high with focus groups. He declined to provide a cost estimate for the pilot program, which will be evaluated later this year to determine whether it will be rolled out nationwide.

On hand for Freakley’s luncheon speech to local leaders were two new recruits who are in line for the money. Armando Rodriguez, of Springfield, Mass., said he would have signed up anyway. But the 22-year-old recruit said he and his wife could use the $40,000 toward a house when they settle to raise a family after his service.

“It’s definitely going to make our lives a lot better,” Rodriguez said, “instead of living from paycheck to paycheck.”

Freakley and other proponents likened the pilot program to the GI Bill of Rights, which has helped veterans pay for higher education since the end of World War II.

“An additional $40,000 can help ensure that the veterans have a place to call home,” said John Brown, national commander of the veterans support organization AMVETS, in a prepared statement.

The GI Bill has become a political issue in recent years, with critics claiming its benefits are not keeping up with the costs of college. Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has promised to update the bill to keep pace with inflation as needed if he is elected. Democrat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she wants to expand benefits such as education and housing for service members.