Tuesday, March 18, 2008




Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq

GENEVA, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the humanitarian situation there is still among the most critical in the world, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday.

Because of the conflict, millions of Iraqis now still have insufficient access to clean water, sanitation and health care, the Geneva-based agency said in a report.

"Better security in some parts of Iraq must not distract attention from the continuing plight of millions of people who have essentially been left to their own devices," said Beatrice Megevand Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Among them are displaced and refugee families, and those who have returned to their homes, children, elderly people, disabled people, households headed by women and families of detainees," she said.

According to the report, although security has improved in some parts of the country, Iraqis continue to be killed or injured on a daily basis in fighting and attacks.

Civilians are often deliberately targeted, in complete disregard for the rules of international humanitarian law.

Health care, water and sanitation services and electricity supplies remain largely inadequate. Hospitals lack qualified staff and basic drugs, and therefore struggle to provide suitable care for the injured.

The water supply has continued to deteriorate over the past year. Millions of Iraqis have been forced to rely on insufficient supplies of poor-quality water and sewage systems suffer from a lack of maintenance and a shortage of engineers.

"To avert an even worse crisis, more attention must be paid to the everyday needs of Iraqis," said Roggo.

"Everyone should have regular access to health care, electricity, clean water and sanitation," she added.

The ICRC also called on those involved in the conflict and those who can influence them to do everything possible to ensure that civilians, medical staff and medical facilities are not harmed.


Fox News Featured Most Celebrity Coverage, Fewest Stories On Iraq War


The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) put out its annual report on the “State of the News Media.” While the 2008 presidential campaign and the debate over Iraq were overwhelmingly the top subjects of cable news, the networks still devoted a substantial amount of coverage to celebrity affairs. For example, the death of Anna Nicole Smith received more coverage than the Valerie Plame scandal, the U.S. attorney purge, and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Fox News led the cable networks in the most amount of celebrity coverage and the least amount of Iraq war coverage.

PEJ notes: MSNBC, at least in terms of time spent, was indeed the place for politics in 2007 — by nearly double over its rivals in the percentage of time studied (28% vs. 12% on CNN and 15% on Fox News). Fox, in turn, spent less time on the war in Iraq than the others (10% vs. 18% on MSNBC and 16% on CNN). And FOX NEWS was more oriented to crime, celebrity and the media than its rivals (28% vs. 19% on MSNBC and 16% on CNN).

A look at the Iraq coverage of CNN, Fox, and MSNBC:

As ThinkProgress reported in March 2007, three weeks after Anna Nicole’s death, Fox News and MSNBC still devoted more time to the late celebrity than to the Walter Reed scandal. Fox gave Anna Nicole roughly 12 times more coverage.

Fox may not be ashamed of PEJ’s latest findings. Last year, Fox News’s John Gibson defended his celebrity coverage by accusing reporters — such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper — of “news-guy snobbery.” Gibson claimed that people were “a little weary” of war coverage” and wanted “a little something else.”

That stupid comment by FOX NEWS' JOHN GIBSON is one of the many reasons this former reporter and former United States Army Combat Engineer started this blog.

Gibson, like so many of his colleagues at FOX NEWS, never spent a day in the military and wearing a stupid little flag lapel pin is not the same as standing at attention as the Star Spangled Banner is played when you are in the United States Armed Forces.

Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE http://corksphere.blogspot.com/


This story about ten grandmothers, ranging in age from 58 to 80, who tried to enlist in the United States Army is hilarious, but it also makes a valid point.

The point is people are fed up with the Iraq war that has dragged on for five years and now even grandmother are willing to enlist to help stop the constant re deployments of many troops to Iraq.

(IPS) - As part of actions across the United States to mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, 10 "Grandmothers for Peace", ranging in age from 57 to 80, were arrested Monday while trying to enlist in the United States Army.


Acts of civil disobedience are planned this week in at least 17 other U.S. cities.As exclusively observed by IPS, the Grandmothers for Peace entered the Army Recruiting Station at the Midtown Place Shopping Centre in Atlanta, Georgia at around 9:30 am. The women broke up into three groups, each approaching a different recruiter's desk to engage them in questions.

"When do you get the bonuses? Do you get them right away?" a Grandmother asked.

"You guys are on a fishing expedition to catch people in lies," declared one recruiter, who said her name was "Ms. Reed". "What we're doing is, we're very much against the Iraq war. We'd like for you to let us enlist," said Bobbie Paul, 58, executive director of Atlanta Women's Action for New Directions.

"We have to make sure people are physically pre-screened," said a recruiter named Kevin Wells. "Could we enlist today? So the youth don't have to go? Can you give us a list of jobs?" Paul persisted. "There are regulations we have to follow, set by the government, as far as entry and recruiting," Wells responded.

"Would you take me? I'm 80," said Doris Benit of Kennesaw, Georgia.

"Me personally? Absolutely! But as far as the Army, there is a process," Wells answered. "What's the first step?" Benit asked. "The first step is to have a seat," Wells said.

Then, the 10 grandmothers all took seats around his desk. Meanwhile, dozens of activists were beating drums and chanting outside under a banner that read, "Take Us, Not Our Grandchildren!"

"We need an application," said Gloria Tatum, 65, of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Atlanta. "I believe in action. You're doing what you can. I'm doing what I can. We're in the same direction. This country is the greatest in the world. There's many ways to do things. I'm very passionate about this country and worry where it's going. It needs you. It needs me. It needs that young man over there [IPS reporter]. It needs that kind of passion," Wells said. Then, "I want everybody outside!" Reed shouted, after calling for backup and talking with her supervisor.

Finally, the Atlanta Police Department showed up. "People have 10 seconds to get off the property because it's private property or else you'll be arrested immediately," one police officer said through a loudspeaker.

"We're grandmothers -- it takes us 10 seconds just to get our bones coordinated," commented Rev. Sylvia Carroll of the First Iconium Baptist Church, who was one of the 16 "support grandmothers" who did not get arrested

Grandmothers for Peace International was founded in 1981 when Barbara Wiender, the first Grandmother for Peace, was arrested protesting the presence of nuclear weapons near her home in Sacramento, California. Today, the group conducts a variety of protests and other actions, including civil disobedience, around issues of nuclear disarmament, peace, and justice.

It has offices in the U.S., Germany, Romania, South Africa, and Britain.

Click on link to read full story.


There has been a lot of talk about race on TV, especially on FOX NEWS which has used comments made by Democratic Presidential candidate Barak Obama's former pastor, as a reason to try and divide and conquer the United States along racial lines more than it is already.

In this report and accompanying video, an Iraq war veteran says "racism" is very much a part of the military and it starts at the top of command.

Iraq Vets: 'Racism Endemic; Comes from the Top of Command Chain' (VIDEO)

http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/79865/ (click on this link to see video)

By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted March 17, 2008.

At its core, the "War on Terror" is inherently racist. Its central tenet is that all Muslims are interchangeable.

To a significant degree, the invasion of Iraq was sold on that premise.

At the time of the invasion, a majority of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks of 9/11 (a third still believe that, as did 90 percent of soldiers deployed in Iraq in 2006, according to a Zogby poll).

Only a populace that thinks all Arabs are the same could be convinced that it was possible to avenge Osama Bin Laden's attack -- carried out mostly by Saudis and Egyptians -- by invading Iraq.

Click on link above to read the full story about racism in the military.


While Vice President Dick Cheney boasts about the success of "the surge," on Tuesday major political blocs of Sunni and Shiites boycotted a national conference which was designed to bring reconciliation to Iraq.

Iraq is being torn apart by the warring factions and any success of "the surge" is of little importance to the overall stabilization of Iraq.

Divisions mar Iraq unity meeting

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 18 minutes ago


Major Sunni and Shiite political blocs Tuesday boycotted a national conference aimed at reconciling Iraq's rival communities — underscoring the deep divisions tearing at the country despite a decline in violence.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, opened the two-day conference, pledging that no religious or ethnic group would suffer as Iraq tries to heal its internal rifts.

But the two major Sunni blocs — the Iraqi Accordance Front and the Front for National Dialogue — refused to attend, saying the Shiite-dominated government had failed to meet Sunni demands.

Members of the Shiite bloc loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr walked out following the opening ceremonies, which took place in the U.S.-protected Green Zone.

Nassar al-Rubaie, head of the pro-Sadr faction in parliament, said his group did not want to appear hostile to reconciliation but "we don't want our presence to be ceremonial or sit like guests of honor."

Sunni leaders have complained that al-Maliki has failed to release detainees not charged with specific crimes, has not disbanded Shiite militias and has not sufficiently included Sunni lawmakers in decision-making on security issues.

"How we can attend a reconciliation meeting?" said Saleem Abdullah, a spokesman for the Accordance Front. "There are many points that are still not fulfilled."


When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Baghdad Monday, he went from his plane to the Green Zone in a helicopter because the streets of Baghdad are too dangerous to drive down. Anyone driving through Baghdad has to zigzag down the streets and hope that someone has planted an IED or takes a shot at them from a window or door.

And these security incidents in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities is why Iraq remains a very dangerous place despite all the bravado about how well "the surge" is working.

We also have this casualty report on a U.S. soldier wounded in Iraq:

Casualty Reports: Army Sergeant James Hackemer, 26, of Gowanda lost his legs when the armored vehicle he was driving was blown up by an I-E-D in Baghdad Friday. Hackemer and 4 others were all in the vehicle when the blast occurred. All of them are listed in critical condition tonight. Hackemer is currently being treated at a hospital in Germany. He is said to be in a drug induced coma, and is expected to be transported back to the U.S. tomorrow or Wednesday.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: Two civilians were killed and four others wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in northeastern Baghdad on Tuesday morning, police said. An IED planted by unidentified gunmen went off near an outdoor souk (market) in al-Binouk neighborhood, northeastern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding four others," the source, who preferred not to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

#2: An IED unidentified gunmen stuck to a traffic facility on the main road in al-Shaab area, northeastern Baghdad, went off, killing two traffic policemen," Maj. General Qassem Atta, the spokesman for the command and the security plan Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (law imposing), told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

#3: Around 3 p.m. a parked car bomb exploded near a checkpoint near Um Al Tubool mosque (Ibin Taimia mosque) at the entrance of the airport road, injuring three Iraqi army soldiers and injuring 4 civilians.

#4: U.S. forces killed seven suspected militants and detained eight others in operations targeting al Qaeda members in central and northern Iraq on Monday, the U.S. military said.#5: Police found five dead bodies throughout Baghdad, one in Zafaraniyah, one in Sinak, one in Ur, two in Dora.

Diyala Prv:#1: Three policeman were killed and three others wounded in a roadside bomb attack targeting their patrol in Abu Sayda village in northern Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.Karbala:#1: Update An Iraqi health official says the death toll in Monday's bombing in Karbala has risen to 52. About 75 people were injured in the blast.

Iskandariya:#1: A member of a neighbourhood security unit was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a checkpoint in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

Diwaniyah:#1: Twelve rockets targeted Al Diwaniyah city from three different directions and caused no casualties, Iraqi police said.Shatt al-Arab:

#1: Two Iraqi fishermen drowned and another wounded when their boat came under an Iranian patrol fire in the waters of Shatt al-Arab river channel, south of Basra, on Tuesday, police said."An Iranian patrol opened fire at an Iraqi fishing boat in al-Fao area, (110 km) south of Basra, causing two fishermen to drown and a third to sustain injuries," the source, who did not want his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

Basra:#1: Gunmen using machineguns attacked sheikh Abdul Atheem Al Edani, a deputy of Sistani to Basra, in Al Taiaran square in central Basra, injuring him and killing his driver.

Isahaqi:#1: An officer in the rank of lieutenant was killed on Tuesday in clashes with an armed group in al-Anya village, (4 km) west of al-Isahaqi in a raid on gunmen's hideouts," the source told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

Samarra:#1: Meanwhile, the same source said "unidentified gunmen kidnapped on Monday evening a policeman in a fake checkpoint they set up in Watban street, near Samarra. "The gunmen cut off the road for more than one hour, during which they stopped some civilian vehicles and kidnapped a policeman in civvies and led him to the area of al-Tharthar, southwestern Samarra," the source said.

Baiji:#1: Two members of a neighbourhood security unit were killed in a drive-by shooting at a checkpoint in Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Kirkuk:#1: Unknown gunmen kidnapped a civilian in central Kirkuk on Tuesday, a police source said.

Mosul:#1: Two civilians were killed and 10 others wounded when a car bomb ripped through a crowded commercial street in central Mosul on Tuesday, police said. A car bomb went exploded by means or remote control on the shoppers-busy Khaled Ibn al-Walid street in central Mosul, killing two civilians and wounding 10 others," a police source in Ninewa, who refused to reveal his name, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq .

Three people were killed and 45 others wounded by a bomb in a parked car in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said

Afghanistan:#1: Pakistan's state news agency says a roadside bomb has struck an oil tanker carrying fuel for U.S.-led coalition forces in neighboring Afghanistan. No one was hurt. The Associated Press of Pakistan says the truck "burst into flames" after the explosion Tuesday near Peshawar, a city near the Afghan border. The tanker carrying 11,624 gallons of fuel was destroyed.

#2: The health condition of the Czech soldier who was seriously wounded in a suicide attack in the south of Afghanistan on Monday remains unchanged and he continues being kept in induced sleep, Czech deputy chief of staff Josef Proks said.One of them has serious injuries. He has been transported to the U.S. hospital in Kandahar and is kept in induced sleep.

#3: Some of the 3,200 North Carolina-based Marines slated for a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan's volatile south have begun arriving at the region's largest base following a call from Canada for more troops there. About 2,200 troops from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be based in Kandahar, the Taliban's former power base.

#4: Afghan security forces killed two Taliban militants who were involved in a recent attack on a mobile phone tower in western Afghanistan, police said Tuesday. Five other rebels were captured following the clash in Obe district of Herat province late Monday, regional police spokesman Abdul Rauf Ahmadi told AFP. One of the captured men was wounded, he added.


The Department of Defense (DoD) has confirmed the name of one out of three American soldiers killed in Iraq:

U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:

DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Mar 17, 2008
03/17/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. William D. O’Brien, 19, of Rice, Texas, died March 15 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when he was attacked by small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment...

03/17/08 MNF: Two MND-B Soldiers attacked by IED
Two Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers were killed when an improvised-explosive device struck the Soldiers' vehicle at approximately 12:20 p.m. March 17.

Post Iraq Deaths Not Confirmed By the DoD
Wasielewsk, Anthony Raymond
Cassidy, Gerald J.
Richards, Jack D.
Salerno III, Raymond A.
Smith, John "Bill"

Note: The soldiers listed above died from wounds received in Iraq, however, the DoD has not included their deaths in their official count.


This video of Baghdad's Killing Fields tells the story of thousands of Iraqis who have died since the United States invaded Iraq five years ago. For anyone looking for the real truth about life and death inside of Iraq, this video tells what the residents of Baghdad have gone through since the United States invaded Iraq five years ago: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2008/mar/18/baghdads.killing.fields


In this video and Iraqi journalist returns to his hometown of Baghdad, Iraq five years after the war started to chronicle what life is like inside of Baghdad. It is not the picture the American media is presenting to the American public. It is graphic: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2008/mar/17/baghdad.city.of.walls?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront


The problems within the Veterans Administration continue to mount, and the latest finding is the VA is doing everything within its power to keep soldiers from registering to vote.


By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNetPosted on March 18, 2008, Printed on March 18, 2008


For at least four years, since the 2004 presidential election, when a veteran, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was the Democratic Party nominee, the Department of Veterans Affairs has blocked efforts to help U.S. soldiers register to vote at its facilities in all 50 states.

"This is politically motivated voter suppression," said Scott Rafferty, an attorney based in Washington, D.C., who has fought the VA in federal courts since 2004 over the right to assist homeless people, including veterans, register to vote at a shelter on VA property in Menlo Park, Calif. "Now the political motivation might be different that the veteran running for president is a Republican."

The issue has resurfaced, not merely on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, but because the VA -- whose public affairs office did not answer telephone calls nor return requests to comment Monday -- apparently has also stonewalled requests by U.S. senators for an explanation.

"We write today to once again highlight our concerns about voter registration in VA facilities," began a March 6, 2008, letter from Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, and Sen. Kerry, to James B. Peake, secretary of Veterans Affairs. "Nearly one year ago, your predecessor, Secretary Nicholson, was questioned about the lack of access to nonpartisan voter registration services for our nation's veterans. A response to this inquiry was never received."

Click on link to read the full story.


George Bush has been tied to a prostitution ring involving as many as 50,000 women and girls. The prostitutes, some as young as 13, are among the 1.2 million desperate Iraqis who fled to Syria after Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the U.K. Independent.

By Bob Fertik, Democrats.comPosted on March 18, 2008, Printed on March 18, 2008


Bush's invasion destroyed the Iraqi government and unleashed a wave of political and sectarian violence that has killed over 1 million Iraqis and forced 4 million to become refugees, according to the UN.

Facing starvation, as many as 50,000 women and girls have been forced into prostitution in Syria alone, according to Hana Ibrahim of the Women's Will Association.

"70 percent to 80 percent of the girls working this business in Damascus today are Iraqis," 23-year-old Abeer told the New York Times. "The rents here in Syria are too expensive for their families. If they go back to Iraq they'll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available."

According to the Times, "inexpensive Iraqi prostitutes have helped to make Syria a popular destination for sex tourists from wealthier countries in the Middle East. In the club's parking lot, nearly half of the cars had Saudi license plates."

Driving women and girls into prostitution violates numerous human rights agreements, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. George Bush himself denounced sex trafficking at the United Nations in 2003.

Bush's invasion of a country that posed no threat to the U.S. was illegal under both U.S. and international law, according to legal experts. Bush has been convicted of war crimes by citizen tribunals around the world, including New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Istanbul. Just las week, the towns of Brattleboro and Marlboro Vermont voted to indict and arrest Bush and Cheney.


Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq on Monday and in this YouTube video Cheney talks about all the successes that have been accomplished since the United States invaded and occupied Iraq five years ago. Cheney boasts about how the Iraqi people held an election and now have a functioning government. He also pays respects to General Petraeus and "the surge." There are only a couple of glowing errors in Cheney's robust report. The Iraqi government is a government in name only. They haven't accomplished anything. "The Surge" is more of a tribute to the Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province who ran the terrorists out of their town and cities than anything the U.S. military has done. Not seen here, but during his press conference, Cheney is still clinging to the notion that Saddam Hussein had links with Al Qaeda before the war even though all intelligence proves otherwise.

See the Cheney video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K-KsfALlYY


This week marks the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion in Iraq. While security has improved, there are growing concerns by both Iraqis and U.S. military officials that it will rise again in the near future. As has been widely noted, this lull in violence has not led to political progress.

It also hasn’t led to an increase in services in Iraqis’ everyday lives.

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/17/iraq-poll-anniversary/

McClatchy reports on these “worms in the water” five years after “liberation”:

To them, the real crime is that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they still swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter because of a lack of electricity. Government rations are inevitably late, incomplete or expired. Garbage piles up for days, sometimes weeks, emanating toxic fumes.

The list goes on: black-market fuel, phone bills for land lines that haven’t worked in years, education and health-care systems degraded by the flight of thousands of Iraq’s best teachers and doctors. […]

In some poor areas of Baghdad, militias or Iranian-backed charities have become the main source of propane tanks, food staples, garbage collection and other services that the government should provide.

A new poll for BBC, ABC, ARD and NHK finds that a majority of Iraqis think their lives are good, “more than at any time in the last three years.” Yet at the same time, 72 percent oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq and 61 percent believe that these troops are making the security situation worse. Additionally, 53 percent say that Bush’s “surge” has “made overall security worse, not better,” and a plurality want foreign forces to leave immediately.

A look at some areas of Iraqi life that the surge hasn’t been able to lift up. In many cases, these services are worse than they were before the U.S. invasion:
% Rating ‘Bad’
% Rating ‘Good’
Snapshot Of Problems
Availability Of Jobs
The nationwide unemployment rate is currently between
25-40%, where it has remained since November 2005, according to the Brookings Institution.
Supply Of Electricity
The average hours of electricity per day is at 9.7 hours nationwide, one of the lowest levels since the surge began in early 2007. Baghdad currently has an
average of 7.5 hours of electricity, down from pre-war levels of 16-24 hours.
Availability Of Clean Water
In late 2007, the World Health Organization confirmed that cholera had infected at
over 7,000 Iraqis. Cholera is “typically spread by drinking contaminated water.”
Availability Of Medical Care
New ICRC report finds that hospitals lack “
qualified staff and basic drugs.” Health care facilities “have not been properly maintained, and the care they provide is often too expensive for ordinary Iraqis.”
Freedom To Live Anywhere Without Persecution
In August 2007, the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization indicated that “the total number of internally displaced Iraqis [had] more than doubled, to
1.1 million from 499,000” since the surge started in February. Baghdad, which once used to be a 65 percent Sunni majority city, “is now 75 percent Shia.”


Over five years ago, Vice President Dick Cheney was telling anyone who would listen to him that there was a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Since then all intelligence reports have indicated there NEVER was a tie between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but that hasn't stopped Cheney.

At a press conference in Baghdad Monday, Cheney was still talking about how there was a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda before the United States invaded and occupied Iraq five years ago.

During the press conference, Cheney again cited a thoroughly-debunked Weekly Standard article written by his own biographer Stephen Hayes as laying out the best case of an Iraq/al Qaeda connection. “It was the Weekly Standard that dealt with this subject,” Cheney said.

Though Cheney urged reporters to “go read the report,” reporters will have a difficult time doing that. According to ABC News, the new Pentagon report “won’t be emailed to reporters and it won’t be posted online.” So you’ll just have to take Dick Cheney’s word for it.

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/17/cheney-iraq-al-qaeda-again/

Before the Iraq war began, Dick Cheney was among the most prominent messengers of the false claim that Saddam Hussein had a relationship with al Qaeda. For example, he said it was “pretty well confirmed” that a 9/11 hijacker met with Iraqi intelligence officials before 9/11.

Over the past five years, numerous intelligence reports have conclusively proved that there was no Iraq/al Qaeda relationship. A Senate Intelligence Committee report stated in Sept. 2006 that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were not collaborators, but rather enemies.

More recently, a study commissioned by the Defense Department to look into the Iraq/al Qaeda ties “showed no connection between the two.” But Dick Cheney still isn’t convinced. Speaking at a press conference in Iraq today, Cheney shot down the new report. He acknowledged that — while no “operational link” has been found between Iraq and al Qaeda — it’s “pretty clear” there is a link:

CHENEY: Well, this is no operational link. But there was, as I recall from looking at it, extensive links with Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Egyptian Islamic Jihad was the organization headed by Zawahiri, and he merged EIJ with Al Qaeda when he became the deputy director of Al Qaida, Osama bin Laden’s number two. Now, was that a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda? Seems to me pretty clear that there was.

But it’s a question — I would urge you to go read the report. I know ABC reported on it. If you dig into the report in depth, I think you may find that there was an extensive relationship with a broad range of terrorist groups, that he was a state sponsor of terror. And I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

To refresh everyone’s memories about Zarqawi, he operated in a region of Iraq before the war that was independent of Saddam and completely outside his control.

During the press conference, Cheney again cited a thoroughly-debunked Weekly Standard article written by his own biographer Stephen Hayes as laying out the best case of an Iraq/al Qaeda connection. “It was the Weekly Standard that dealt with this subject,” Cheney said.

Though Cheney urged reporters to “go read the report,” reporters will have a difficult time doing that. According to ABC News, the new Pentagon report “won’t be emailed to reporters and it won’t be posted online.” So you’ll just have to take Dick Cheney’s word for it.

Transcript: Read the rest of this entry »


Vice President Dick Cheney was no sooner on the ground in Baghdad than a female suicide bomber blew herself up and killed 40 Iraqis in Karbala and injured another 65. Two U.S. soldiers were also killed Monday in Iraq.

CNN's John King reported Baghdad is much calmer than when he last visited the city, but he said their are parts of Baghdad that no Western journalist can go out of fear of being killed or kidnapped.

Female suicide bomber kills 40 in Iraq, official says

Story Highlights
NEW: 2 U.S. soldiers killed by roadside bomb in Baghdad on Monday, U.S. says
NEW: Other roadside bombs in Baghdad kill one police officer, injure four people

Death toll rises to 40 in explosion in Karbala, official says; 65 injured

Explosion was near holy shrine for Shiite Muslims, burial spot of Hussein bin Ali


KARBALA, Iraq (CNN) -- A female suicide bomber apparently targeting Shiite worshippers killed at least 40 people and wounded at least 65 in Karbala on Monday, according to an Interior Ministry official.

The incident occurred one-half mile from the Imam Hussein shrine of Karbala.
Karbala is a Shiite holy city, and the Imam Hussein shrine is one of Shiite Islam's holiest locations. The shrine marks the burial spot of Hussein bin Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was killed in battle nearby in 680.
No more information was immediately available about the blast southwest of the capital city, Baghdad.

Earlier Monday, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi police patrol, killing one officer and wounding another, the Interior Ministry told CNN.

A short time later, another roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi police patrol on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad, wounding four bystanders, a ministry official said.

The first attack took place about 8:30 a.m. in the upscale Mansour neighborhood, where law enforcement officials have come under frequent attacks in recent weeks.

Also Monday, two American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, officials said.
The incident occurred about 12:20 p.m. as the soldiers were "conducting a route-clearance combat operation north of Baghdad," according to a news release.
The names of the soldiers were not immediately released.

Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in the Iraqi capital Monday on an unannounced visit.
Cheney told reporters that the five years in Iraq since the war's start has been "well worth the effort."
He said he met with top Iraqi officials. He appeared at a news conference with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to the country.
Cheney began a trip to the Middle East on Sunday with an official itinerary that listed stops in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank, according to the White House.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.