Thursday, April 3, 2008


In a speech last week at George Washington University, former Bush adviser Karl Rove asserted that a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq would positively provide “the projection of American power to maintain stability in a dangerous and difficult part of the world.” In a Washington Post op-ed on the same day, columnist Charles Krauthammer echoed Rove’s point, claiming that “maintaining a U.S. military presence in Iraq would provide regional stability.”

But CNN reporter Michael Ware, who has reported from Iraq since before the U.S. invasion in 2003, disagrees. In an interview yesterday, Ware told ThinkProgress that “there will be very much mixed reaction in Iraq” to a long-term troop presence, but he added, “what’s the point and will it be worth it?’
“A limited American capability” stationed in the country would be exposed, said Ware, “to a whole host of dangers” and “could actually ferment further resentment towards the United States”:
A deeper question, however, is: what would be the point? Why keep say, just one division of combat troops in Iraq? You think that would intimidate Iran? Do you think that would prevent Syria from manipulating Iraqi affairs when 160,000 American troops aren’t able to stop that kind of interference? […] The fact that just such a limited American capability in that country, being stationed there, could actually ferment further resentment towards the United States because such a limited force structure would not be able to actually do anything if a civil war broke out.

Watch Michael Ware here:

Ware added that while “many people could live with” a troop presence “if America stays out of Iraqis business, others will resent their mere presence for the blame that they cast upon America.

In the same interview, Ware also dispelled the notion — promulgated by AEI’s Frederick Kagan — that sectarian cleansing in Baghdad is a “myth“:
If anyone is telling you that the cleansing of Baghdad has not contributed to the fall in violence, then they either simply do not understand Baghdad or they are lying to you.
For more of Ware’s comments about Iraq, visit the
Wonk Room.

WARE: In terms of just hosting U.S. bases, America maintaining more or less a token presence or just a strategic presence. I mean, even if you have one or two divisions that remain in Iraq, they stay garrisoned in camps, in no way do they impact upon the political framework of Iraq or domestic affairs. Many people could live with that if America stays out of Iraqis business, others will resent their mere presence for the blame that they cast upon America, for the nightmare that they see that the United States has brought to their country. A deeper question, however, is: what would be the point? Why keep say, just one division of combat troops in Iraq? You think that would intimidate Iran? Do you think that would prevent Syria from manipulating Iraqi affairs when 160,000 American troops aren’t able to stop that kind of interference? So, it would be a token presence, obviously. What would be the message of that token? What would be the point of it? And don’t forget, that will expose whatever troops you have there to a whole host of dangers.

They will be a sitting target.

So that’s a decision that America must make in a very measured way. Even divorced from Iraqi reaction, you have to ask yourself: what’s the point and will it be worth it? But there will be very much mixed reaction in Iraq and the fact that just such a limited American capability in that country, being stationed there, could actually ferment further resentment towards the United States because such a limited force structure would not be able to actually do anything if a civil war broke out, if massacres were taking place, if the blood was literally rushing up against the razor wire of these American garrisons, they wouldn’t be able to prevent it. They wouldn’t be able to go outside. They wouldn’t have the power and the force to actually affect change. So, at the only time when people may turn to them for help, these troops would be unable to deliver on that hope. So, a permanent presence for American troops is something that must be weighed very carefully.


Latest Coalition Fatalities: Apr 03, 2008
04/03/08 DoD Identifies Army Casual
Sgt. Dayne D. Dhanoolal, 26, of Brooklyn, died March 31 in Baghdad, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team

04/03/08 MNF: MND-B Airman attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Airman was killed at approximately noon in an improvised explosive device attack in central Baghdad April 3. The Airman was on a patrol, when the IED attack occurred.

04/02/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Jevon K. Jordan, 32, of Norfolk, Va., died Mar. 29 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, from wounds suffered Mar. 23 in Abu Jassim, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive.

04/02/08 DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Maj. William G. Hall, 38 of Seattle, died March 30 from wounds he suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on March 29. He was assigned to 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Air Control Group 38...


A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, and soon you're talking real money. But when it comes to reporting on what the Bush war legacy has cost American taxpayers, the media have been shockingly indifferent to the highest run-up in military spending since World War II.

By Robert Scheer, TruthdigPosted on April 3, 2008, Printed on April 3, 2008

Even the devastating defense spending audit released Monday by the Government Accountability Office documenting the enormous waste in every single U.S. advanced weapons system failed to provoke the outrage it, and five equally scathing previous annual audits, deserved.

This is not about the waste of taxpayer dollars -- already pushing a trillion -- in funding the Iraq war, which, while reprehensible enough, pales in comparison to the big-ticket military systems purchased in the wake of 9/11. In the horror of that moment, the floodgates were lifted and the peace dividend promised with the end of the Cold War was washed away by a doubling of spending on ultra-complex military equipment originally designed to defeat a Soviet enemy that no longer exists, equipment that has no plausible connection with fighting stateless terrorists. Example: the $81-billion submarine pushed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, presumably to fight al-Qaida's navy.

Click on link to read full story.


Paul Jay, senior editor of the Real News Network, and Pepe Escobar, award-winning journalist and Real News analyst, take viewers of this video through remarks made by Senator John McCain, Republican candidate for President, about IRAN which are strikingly similar to what President Bush was saying about IRAQ before we invaded IRAQ in 2003.

We heartily recommend looking at this video.

Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE

McCain's "war on terror" remix

The Real News Network does a first take on McCain's foreign policy

Thursday April 3rd, 2008

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Heavy Troop Deployments Are Called Major Risk. Readiness Is Dangerously Low, Army Chief Says

By Ann Scott Tyson Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, April 2, 2008; A04

Senior Army and Marine Corps leaders said yesterday that the increase of more than 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has put unsustainable levels of stress on U.S. ground forces and has put their readiness to fight other conflicts at the lowest level in years.

In a stark assessment a week before Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is to testify on the war's progress, Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, said that the heavy deployments are inflicting "incredible stress" on soldiers and families and that they pose "a significant risk" to the nation's all-volunteer military.

"When the five-brigade surge went in . . . that took all the stroke out of the shock absorbers for the United States Army," Cody testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee's readiness panel.

He said that even if five brigades are pulled out of Iraq by July, as planned, it would take some time before the Army could return to 12-month tours for soldiers. Petraeus is expected to call for a pause in further troop reductions to assess their impact on security in Iraq.

"I've never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today," said Cody, who has been the senior Army official in charge of operations and readiness for the past six years and plans to retire this summer.

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, one of the chief architects of the Iraq troop increase, has been nominated to replace Cody. Odierno is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow.
The testimony reflects the tension between the wartime priorities of U.S. commanders in Iraq such as Petraeus and the heads of military services responsible for the health and preparedness of the forces. Cody said that the Army no longer has fully ready combat brigades on standby should a threat or conflict occur.

The nation needs an airborne brigade, a heavy brigade and a Stryker brigade ready for "full-spectrum operations," Cody said, "and we don't have that today."

Click on link to read the full story from the Washington Post:


There continues to be an uptick in violence all across Iraq. Below is a province by province breakdown of what took place on Thursday in Iraq.

War News for Thursday, April 03, 2008

Editorial comment: Click on anything you see in "blue" to read more about the story: BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE. We have divided each of the provinces where the escalating violence is taking place in "red."

Baghdad:#1: A parked car bomb targeting a police patrol in western Baghdad killed at least one civilian and wounded 10 other people, including three officers, police said.Three people were killed and ten others injured by a car bomb explosion targeting a police patrol in western Baghdad on Thursday, an Interior Ministry source said. "The incident occurred at about 11:00 a.m. (0800 GMT) when a booby-trapped car went off near a police patrol in the al-Kindi thoroughfare in the Harthiya neighborhood," the source told Xinhuaon condition of anonymity. The blast resulted in the killing of three civilians, includinga woman, and the wounding of ten others, including three policemen,the source said.#2-5: Earlier, four roadside bomb explosions across Baghdad resulted in the killing of an Iraqi soldier and the wounding of eight people, the police said.
#2: A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol elsewhere in the predominantly Sunni Yarmouk neighborhood in the capital, killing one soldier and wounding three others.
#3: A roadside bomb struck street cleaners in Sinaa Street, east-central Baghdad, wounding 4 cleaners, police said.
#4: A roadside bomb exploded near a restaurant in western Baghdad wounding a traffic policeman, police said.An IED planted in the Traffic Police umbrella stand in Mansour neighbourhood, central Baghdad, near al-Sa'a restaurant went off at 7.15 am Thursday injuring one policeman.
#5: A roadside bomb exploded in Qahtan Square of western Baghdad wounding 2 civilians, police said.
#6: A mortar shell slammed into a house in Sadr City late Wednesday, killing three members of one family, including two children and their grandmother, police said. Five people were injured.
#7: US soldiers accidentally shot and killed an Iraqi woman while targeting a man planting a roadside bomb in Baghdad, the military said Thursday. The soldiers were on a foot patrol Wednesday in northeastern Baghdad when they fired three rounds at the suspect, killing him, according to a statement. The troops then opened fire on another man trying to remove the roadside bomb from the site as a crowd gathered. The military said the man was wounded, along with one of two local women he was using as shields against the soldiers. "After the engagement, the woman died of her wounds," the military said.

Hilla:#1: U.S. forces called in helicopter strikes during a clash with gunmen on Thursday in the southern Iraqi city of Hilla. Police sources in the Shi'ite city said five people had been killed in the predawn operation, including four policemen. They said fighting broke out after U.S. troops wearing civilian clothes entered the al-Jamiya district in central Hilla. Sattar al-Jeshaami, spokesman for the main hospital in Hilla, said six bodies had been brought in after the clash, including four policemen. Around 15 people had been wounded, half of them civilians, he said.The U.S. military said gunmen opened fire on U.S. troops who were on an operation to detain a so-called "special groups" member, the military's term for rogue elements in the Mehdi Army militia of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.In Hilla, south of Baghdad, security officials told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that night guards opened fire by mistake on a US patrol in the early hours on Thursday in Jamiyah district in the city centre. Later, a US gunship shelled the scene of the shooting, killing five policemen and injuring 11, including two women in their homes, the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Basra:#1: A U.S. warplane in the southern Iraq city of Basra launched an airstrike "against enemy forces" that killed one person and destroyed a house, the U.S. military has said. The U.S. military said Thursday the strike -- carried out overnight in support of Iraqi security forces -- took place near the western Basra neighborhood of Qibla.But witnesses said three people were killed and three others were believed to be buried in the rubble, apparently leading to confusion over the number of casualties. "While we were preparing for evening prayer, US aircraft bombed this house, we rushed to save survivors but in vain," one said. "The father, mother and a young boy were killed and three others were buried under rubble. We evacuated two people and one is still under the rubble." Hospital officials said three bodies had been received, including two men and an elderly woman, and two women were wounded in the strike.The US military has been accused of killing six Iraqi civilians during an air strike in the southern city of Basra yesterday.
#2: update Iraqi soldiers rolled through a Shiite militia stronghold in Basra on Wednesday. Later, the camera operator, Mazin al-Tayar, told Alhurra by telephone that the soldiers faced "many roadside bombs and mortar rounds" during the operation, although there were no reports of military casualties.
#3: Iraqi security forces arrested Yusuf al-Mawsawi, head of the Tharallah Shi'ite religious party, in an overnight operation in the al-Maqal area of northeast Basra, said Baqir al-Jabiri, an official in the party.

Tikrit:#1: "U.S. troops made an airdrop in Ain al-Faras region, west of Tikrit, after receiving intelligence reports indicating the presence of fighters carrying Arab nationalities in the region," the source told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq. "Separate clashes broke out between suspected al-Qaeda gunmen and U.S. forces, during which 11 gunmen, including seven carrying Arab passports, were killed," he explained. "The U.S. forces told the police that they carried the gunmen's bodies to the U.S. base north of Tikrit," the source added. "One U.S. soldier was injured in the clashes," he also said.

Kirkuk:#1: Gunmen opened fire upon a civilian on the main route between Kirkuk and Baghdad, Wednesday evening killing him instantly.#2: Gunmen assassinated a police officer in the Iraqi Police, Department of National Investigation in downtown Kirkuk, late Wednesday evening.

Mosul:#1: In northern Iraq, a suicide bomber attacked an Iraqi checkpoint west of Mosul late Wednesday, killing seven people, including a woman and a 5-year-old child, and wounding 12, according to the Iraqi military. The U.S. military confirmed the Wednesday night attack but put the casualty toll at five dead and 19 wounded.


Moqtada al-Sadr is planning on holding a million-person march aimed at ridding Iraq of US forces just before General David Petraeus, head of the multi-national forces in Iraq, goes to Washington to meet with President Bush and appear before Congress next Tuesday.

Iraq's Sadr calls million-strong march against U.S.

By Peter Graff and Ahmed Rasheed 9 minutes ago

Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Thursday for a million-strong demonstration against U.S. "occupation," a potentially destabilizing show of force after his followers battled U.S. and government troops.

The demonstration would take place next Wednesday April 9, the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, when the U.S. commander in Iraq is also scheduled to brief Congress in Washington about progress in the war.

U.S. forces called in helicopter strikes during a clash with gunmen on Thursday in the city of Hilla and bombed a house in Basra overnight, stepping up raids after days of relative calm that followed a truce announced by Sadr on Sunday.

"The time has come to express your rejections and raise your voices loud against the unjust occupier and enemy of nations and humanity, and against the horrible massacres committed by the occupier against our honorable people," said a statement released by Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf.

The statement called on Iraqis of all sects to descend on Najaf, site of annual Shi'ite pilgrimages that frequently attract hundreds of thousands of worshippers.

The government said it would not attempt to block the demonstration, provided it was not violent.

"The right to hold a peaceful demonstration and express opinions is guaranteed by the constitution, and we don't mind as long as the demonstration is peaceful," Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf told Reuters.

Sadr has millions of followers and was able to summon tens of thousands of people onto the streets in Baghdad for demonstrations during last week's fighting, but a march to Najaf would potentially mobilize entire swathes of Shi'ite Iraq.


BAGHDAD - A militant was killed when a U.S. airstrike destroyed a house in the southern city of Basra, the U.S. military said Thursday. Iraqi witnesses and hospital officials said at least three civilians were among the dead.A series of bombings also struck Baghdad on Thursday.A parked car bomb targeting a police patrol in western Baghdad killed at least one civilian and wounded 10 other people, including three officers, police said.A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol elsewhere in the predominantly Sunni Yarmouk neighborhood in the capital, killing one soldier and wounding three others.

The Associated Press

In northern Iraq, a suicide bomber attacked an Iraqi checkpoint west of Mosul late Wednesday, killing seven people, including a woman and a 5-year-old child, and wounding 12, according to the Iraqi military.

The U.S. military confirmed Wednesday night attack's but put the casualty toll at five dead and 19 wounded.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack. But Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, is believed to be the last major urban center where al-Qaida in Iraq maintains a substantial presence.

'Aerial fires'The Wednesday evening airstrike came as the Iraqi government apparently shifts gears to slowly squeeze the gunmen instead of a full-scale assault as it maneuvers for control of Basra — the country's oil capital and a major commercial center of 2 million people.

The U.S.-led coalition directed "aerial fires" against enemy forces fighting Iraqi troops Wednesday near the militia stronghold of Qibla in Basra, said Lt. David Russell, a military spokesman.

The military later confirmed an American plane conducted the attack, saying one militant was killed but it had no reports of civilian casualties.


Pepe Escobar, the award-winning journalist, explains who are the real winners and who are the real losers in the "Battle of Basra."

Not surprisingly, the losers are President George W. Bush and Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The winners are Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iranians who brokered the cease-fire.

Any other explanation is Bush White House spin.

Watch video here:


BAGHDAD, Apr 3 (IPS) - Despite the huge media campaign led by U.S. officials and a complicit corporate-controlled media to convince the world of U.S. success in Iraq, emerging facts on the ground show massive failure.

IRAQ:'Handed Over' to a Government Called Sadr
Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

The date March 25 of this year will be remembered as the day of truth through five years of occupation. "Mehdi army militias controlled all Shia and mixed parts of Baghdad in no time," a Baghdad police colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "Iraqi army and police forces as well as Badr and Dawa militias suddenly disappeared from the streets, leaving their armoured vehicles for Mehdi militiamen to drive around in joyful convoys that toured many parts of Baghdad before taking them to their stronghold of Sadr City in the east of Baghdad."

The police colonel was speaking of the recent clashes between members of the Shia Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, the largest militia in the country, and members of the Iraqi government forces, that are widely known to comprise members of a rival Shia militia, the Badr Organisation. Dozens of militiamen from both sides were killed in clashes that broke out in Baghdad, Basra, Kut, Samawa, Hilla and most of the Iraqi Shia southern provinces between the Mehdi Army and other militias supported by the U.S., Iran and the Iraqi government.

The Badr Organisation militia is headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who is also head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) that dominates the government. The Dawa Party is headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The number of civilians killed and injured in the clashes is still unknown. Iraqi government offices continue to keep largely silent about the events. "Every resident of Basra knew the situation would explode any minute between these oil thieves, and that Basra would suffer another wave of militia war," Salman Kathum, a doctor and former resident of Basra who fled for Baghdad last month told IPS.

For months now there has been a struggle between the Sadr Movement, the SIIC, and the al-Fadhila Party for control of the south, and particularly Basra. Falah Shenshal, an MP allied to al-Sadr, told al-Jazeera Mar. 26 that al-Maliki was targeting political opponents. "They say they target outlaw gangs, but why do they start with the areas where the sons of the Sadr movement are located? This is a political battle...for the political interests of one party (al-Maliki's Dawa party) because the local elections are coming soon (due later this year)."

The fighting came just as the U.S. military announced the death of their 4,000th soldier in Iraq, and on the heels of a carefully crafted PR campaign designed to show that the "surge" of U.S. troops in Iraq has successfully improved the situation on the ground. "I wonder what lies General David Petraeus (the U.S. forces commander in Iraq) will fabricate this time," Malek Shakir, a journalist in Baghdad told IPS.

"The 25th March events revealed the true failure of the U.S. occupation project in Iraq. More complications are expected in the coming days." Maliki has himself been in Basra to lead a surge against Mehdi Army militias while the U.S. sent forces to surround Sadr City in an attempt to support their Badr and Dawa allies.

Click on link to read the full story.


Alabama veteran to get retroactive disability payments
Retroactive payments for former Navy Seal could be substantial


A local veteran judged by the Department of Veterans Affairs to have post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being waterboarded in a 1975 Navy survival course will receive 100 percent disability payments retroactive to 1999, a spokesman said.

Arthur McCants III, 60, of Eight Mile, will get the payments dating back to the time he made his first PTSD claim, VA spokesman Steve Westerfeld said Friday in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

The total retroactive amount could be substantial, but Westerfeld said that he could not provide the figure at this point.

He said that 100 percent disability today amounts to about $2,500 per month. He estimated that in 1999 -- the year that McCants filed his first claim -- 100 percent
disability was about $1,500 per month.

"It is great news," said McCants, who is facing having his home foreclosed upon. McCants, who is divorced and the father of three children, including two children in law school, told a reporter, "Now I can be the man of the family again."

McCants said he has been living on $1,500 a month, including $1,300 in disability from the Postal Service where he once worked and $200 from the VA stemming from a physical injury he received during his five years in the Navy
Waterboarding is a controversial procedure that simulates drowning; some decry it as torture. It has been used to prepare trainees at the Navy survival school for mistreatment in case they were captured.

McCants -- who has battled alcohol and drug addiction -- is scheduled to start an eight-week PTSD treatment program in Biloxi on Monday and will get free medication because of his new status with the VA.

Westerfeld said that, according to VA regulations, any retroactive disability award that goes back more than seven years has to be thoroughly examined. But he said, "There's nothing that is going to stop this from happening." He said the matter will be expedited because of McCants' financial hardship status.

A VA appeals board in Washington recently reversed earlier rulings and granted the rare disability claim made by McCants.

Westerfeld reported Tuesday that VA officials considered information in a series of Press-Register articles about McCants in making their decision.

McCants said he has struggled with suicidal thoughts because of the waterboarding experience.
Among the evidence McCants had offered to the VA was a report by a VA analyst concluding that McCants suffered from PTSD as a result of the waterboarding that he described.

At the Navy survival school, McCants said he and some 30 other service members played the role of POWs during one exercise, while their instructors acted as guards.

He said he was strapped to a board that was tilted so his feet were at an angle above his head.

He said that water was poured into his mouth and nostrils until he passed out.

He said the procedure was repeated after he came to, only the second time a T-shirt was placed over his face and water was poured though it, leaving him sucking for air and desperately trying to break the straps.

McCants said that he went through the survival course in order to qualify to be an in-flight communications operator on a P-3 Naval aircraft used to track Soviet nuclear submarines. VA records reflect that he successfully completed the course on April 21, 1975.

Over the years, McCants has been arrested in the Mobile area on various drug-related offenses. This past year, he was charged with trafficking cocaine and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. Court records show that the trafficking case was sent to a grand jury for review and the other charge was dropped. The grand jury case is pending.

McCants has said his law-enforcement problems are related to his alcohol and drug addiction. He said he hopes that through his PTSD treatment he will be able to go through vocational rehabilitation training and find employment again.


BASRA: Cleaning up their shops and venturing out onto the streets after a week of bloody clashes, Iraqis in the southern city of Basra said on Wednesday they feared worse violence was to come.

Published Date: April 03, 2008

Basra, Iraq's oil hub, has been relatively calm for the past three days since Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr ordered fighters from his Mehdi Army militia off the streets after they fought pitched battles with Iraqi security forces.

But Sadr has rebuffed an order by Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki for the Mehdi Army to hand over its weapons and many fear more violence, especially in the lead-up to provincial elections due by October.I think these battles will continue and in an even fiercer way as things are not finished yet," said Nadhum Jameel, a 51-year-old government employee. "The militias are still powerful.

Maliki achieved nothing and didn't succeed in disarming them.The Interior Ministry has said 210 people were killed and 600 wounded in Basra during the fighting, which exposed a deep rift between parties in the government and followers of the populist cleric Sadr, who supported Maliki's rise to power in 2006 but withdrew his support a year later.

Shiite parties and militias and have been jockeying for power in Basra for years in a battle that is expected to escalate before the provincial elections.The situation is calm but (security) operations are still going on and I think it will ignite again. I am thinking of leaving the city," said Zuhair Abdullah, 34, a metal worker.

Click on link to read the full story from the Kuwait Times.