Tuesday, April 15, 2008


State Department warns diplomats of compulsory Iraq duty

APNewsBreak: State Department warns diplomats they may be forced to serve in Iraq

Apr 15, 2008 22:05 EST

The State Department is warning U.S. diplomats they may be forced to serve in Iraq next year and says it will soon start identifying prime candidates for jobs at the Baghdad embassy and outlying provinces, according to a cable obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.


POLITICS-US: Army "Rewards" Outspoken Antiwar Soldier

By Aaron Glantz

Sgt. Ronn Cantu, wearing an Iraq Veterans Against the War sweatshirt.
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41992 (SEE PICTURE OF SGT. CANTU)

SAN FRANCISCO, Apr 15 (IPS) - One of the leading voices of dissent inside the U.S. Army has been promoted.Sergeant Ronn Cantu -- who signed a petition to Congress demanding the U.S. withdraw from Iraq and gave interviews to the news shows "60 Minutes" and "Democracy Now!", as well as IPS detailing his opposition -- has seen his rank upgraded to staff sergeant.

Some observers say Cantu's promotion shows the military is now so stressed by the ongoing war it is finding it difficult to crack down on dissent within the ranks. Few members of the Armed Forces have made their disgust for the war in Iraq more public than Ronn Cantu. The 30-year-old Los Angeles native began speaking out during his second tour in Iraq, launching an online forum for antiwar GIs at Soldiersvoices.net, signing petitions against the war, and giving interviews to major U.S. media outlets while still stationed in Baghdad. Now, as a staff sergeant, Cantu says he'll teach the soldiers under him to follow the Geneva Conventions and other laws of war.

"There's a lot of soldiers out there who wouldn't recognise an unlawful order if it bit them on the behind," he said. "So I'm going to make sure the nine guys under me are very aware of the laws of armed conflict. I just want to make sure that they keep their ethics and moral standards and keep out of trouble should anything happen." Cantu hopes the soldiers under his command will behave differently than his unit did during his first tour in Iraq. "We had a policy of 'making a statement'," he told IPS. "If a bomb went off on our convoy, all of the guns would go off and we'd pretty much just pass punishment on the area we were in: windows, cars on the side of the road, farm animals, sheep.

It was a revenge thing." Most service members who speak out are not given the same treatment Ronn Cantu got. Like Cantu, Former Marine Corps Segeant Liam Madden signed the Appeal for Redress, an online petition to Congress from active-duty service members demanding an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. After co-founding the Appeal, Madden began holding workshops about the politics of the war on his base at Quantico, Virginia, bringing down the wrath of his chain of command. "Basically, they just gave me a lousy jobs and told all my peers they were not allowed to talk to Sergeant Madden," he said. "It was a pretty lonely time." "All the peers that I had met and become acquainted with were basically shut off and if any of them were to talk with me in the barracks or off duty they were very nervous about it," he added. Many observers believe the Army is unable to effectively punish soldiers like Cantu and Madden because it's close to its breaking point. Last month, top Army officials told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it is under serious strain and must reduce the length of combat tours as soon as possible. Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of Staff, said, "The cumulative effects of the last six-plus years at war have left our Army out of balance." "There are certainly reasons for the military to overlook many issues today," said Jeff Paterson, the project director of Courage to Resist, which helps troops speak out against the war from within the military. He says the depleted state of the Army has military brass increasingly reluctant to expel soldiers who oppose the war. So people who work within the rules -- like Sergeant Ronn Cantu -- are promoted. "In recruiting, they're overlooking whether you have a high school diploma, they're overlooking whether you have a criminal history, and once you're in the military, they're overlooking injuries -- and now apparently they're even overlooking people who speak out against the war," Patterson said. "So long as you do your job, there's a basis for the military to say 'We need your body in Iraq' regardless of whether we do or don't like what you're saying." Cantu's said his superiors told him he was being promoted because he's served close to 10 years in the military and has met all training requirements. It's unclear whether Cantu slipped through the cracks or the army purposefully overlooked his activist work. "I was pretty surprised," he told IPS, laughing. "It doesn't make much sense. I'd say honestly I just slipped through some bureaucratic cracks."


Baghdad, Apr 15, (VOI) - One U.S. soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device went off targeting his vehicle patrol in northeastern Baghdad, the U.S. army said on Tuesday.

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq Tuesday , 15 /04 /2008 Time 9:40:21

“A Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldier was killed from wounds sustained when an improvised-explosive device struck the vehicle the Soldier was riding in while conducting a combat patrol in northeastern Baghdad at approximately 4:45 pm on April 14,” the army said in a statement received by Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).“The soldier was quickly transported by air to the combat army support hospital where he later died of his wounds,” it added.

The death brings the number of the U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 to 4,036 according to statistics released by the U.S. army.Of this number, 24 U.S. soldiers have been so far killed in April 2008.

November 2004, which witnessed fierce battles between U.S. forces and armed groups in Falluja city, Anbar province, remains the month that saw the highest U.S. death toll with 137.April 2004 comes second with 135, followed by May 2007 during which 126 U.S. soldiers were killed.


Story Highlights
NEW: 12 wounded in double car bombing in Mosul
Suicide bomber kills 15 in restaurant in Anbar province
Car bomb kills 40 near government offices in Baquba
Roadside bomb, car bomb kill five in Baghdad


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A wave of bombings blamed on al Qaeda jihadists shook Baghdad and three provincial capitals Tuesday, killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 100 across northern Iraq.

Most of the dead were in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, where a car bomb killed 40 people outside a crowded restaurant, an Interior Ministry official said. Another 75 people were wounded in the blast.

In a written statement, the U.S. military condemned the bombings and said they "have the appearance of having been carried out by al Qaeda in Iraq."

"The Iraqis killed and wounded in today's brutal attacks in Baquba, Ramadi and Baghdad were innocent victims of extremists who subscribe to a philosophy of hatred," the statement said.
The attacks occurred in cities where U.S. and Iraqi troops have been putting pressure on Sunni Arab militants, who have a history of carrying out car bombings and suicide attacks in the same regions. In an audio statement issued Tuesday, an al Qaeda front group called on Sunnis to stop cooperating with Iraq's Shiite-led government "and instead turn all of their guns toward the crusader enemy and all of those who support them."
The bombing in Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, struck near a courthouse and other government offices, a medical source and a resident said. Women and children are among the dead. Watch bloodied patients treated at a chaotic hospital »

The U.S. military said one Iraqi policeman was killed and another was wounded in the car bombing, which also destroyed three buses and damaged local shops.

"Although attacks such as today's event are tragic, it is not indicative of the overall security situation in Baquba," said Maj. Mike Garcia, spokesman for the coalition forces responsible for Diyala province.

"The overall violence in the city has decreased by 80 percent since June."
Iraqi and U.S. troops have been fighting militants in Diyala province, which stretches north and east of the capital and borders Iran.

In Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad, a man walked into a restaurant and detonated his suicide vest, killing at least 15 people and wounding 13, according to an Interior Ministry official and Hamid al-Hais, the head of the Awakening Council in Anbar.

Anbar, once a battleground between al Qaeda in Iraq and U.S. and Iraqi security forces, has seen a drop in violence because many people in the region have joined the anti-insurgent "awakening" movement.
Abdul Salam al-Ani, head of the Anbar Provincial Council, said Iraqi security forces foiled a suicide attack on the same restaurant last month.
He reiterated that attacks have gone down recently, but have not stopped, and "there will always be attempts by terrorists who resort to these methods [attacking civilians] to disrupt the situation in Anbar."

A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two street sweepers in central Baghdad's Watheq Square, the official said. The blast wounded two other street sweepers and two police officers, the official said.

Later, a parked car bomb killed at least three civilians and wounded eight police officers.
Another roadside bomb, which exploded in southwestern Baghdad's Bayaa neighborhood, wounded a woman and child, the official said.

This comes a day after bombing attacks in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh.
In Mosul, at least 12 people were wounded in a double car bombing Tuesday. The first bomb, targeting coalition forces, resulted in no casualties. But when police responded to the incident, a second bomb detonated, wounding four police officers and eight civilians.

The attack took place in central Mosul, a university area. A resident told CNN that if the bombings had happened earlier in the day, when students were around, the casualty toll would have been "catastrophic."

Mosul is the capital of Nineveh province and is the largest city in northern Iraq. This latest incident comes after a string of car bombs shook the city Monday, killing 12 Kurdish troops and a civilian and wounding several people, U.S. and Iraqi authorities reported.
The city is considered the last urban stronghold of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Also on Monday, three people died and nearly three dozen were wounded in the nearby city of Tal Afar when a suicide attacker blew himself up at an Iraqi soldier's funeral, the U.S. military reported.

Other bombings with high casualty counts this year in Iraq include the pet market bombings in Baghdad that killed 99 on February 1, bombings in a Baghdad commercial district that killed 69 on March 6, and the suicide bombing targeting Shiite worshippers in Karbala that killed 50 on March 17.

The bombings erupted as Iraqi and U.S. troops have been fighting Shiite militants in Baghdad and intra-Shiite hostilities have raged. In the latest such fighting in Sadr City overnight, six people -- described as enemy fighters by the U.S. military -- were killed in clashes.


While Brit Hume and his "Special Report" panel on FOX NEWS, Fred Barnes, Mort Kondrackes and Charles Krauthammer, tell the FOX NEWS viewers the "surge" is a roaring success in Iraq, the following took place on Tuesday alone in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.

98 Iraqis Killed, 144 Wounded
MSNBC earlier today reported two Marines were killed in Baghdad.

The country was rocked by several car bombs as clashes resumed in Sadr City. At least 98 Iraqis were killed and 144 were wounded in the elevated violence.

In Baquba, at least 40 were killed and 80 more were wounded during a car bombing near the courthouse.

A car bomb killed 14 people and injured 14 more outside a kebab restaurant in Ramadi. Five policemen were killed and four more were wounded during a bombing at a checkpoint in the Hamidhiya area.

Overnight clashes in Sadr City left as many as 16 dead and 26 wounded. U.S. forces reportedly killing 10 suspects, while police and hospital authorities reported the other casualties.

Gunmen killed a bodyguard and wounded an aide to Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani during an assassination attempt in Basra. A civilian was killed and two more were wounded during an armed attack. Also, a Coalition air strike left four suspects dead and one more injured.

In Mosul, a stray bullet killed a schoolgirl inside her classroom. A roadside bomb wounded four policemen. Two Iraqi soldiers were injured during a roadside bombing. Also, gunmen killed a female lawyer and her sister. In a separate incident, three women and a man were killed after gunmen stormed their apartment.

Five people were killed and two were wounded during an armed attack on a village near Karbala. Women were among the dead, and 150 people were forced to flee. Fourteen homes were destroyed.

In Baghdad, a car bomb targeting a police patrol killed three people and wounded eight in a central neighborhood.

Clashes took place near Khanaqin after border guards discovered smugglers using mules to bring bombs across the border from Iran. A cache of weapons was also found.

The bodies of two al-Qaeda suspects were found in Balad Ruz.
U.S. forces detained 18 suspects in northern and central Iraq. In al-Yayji, 21 suspects were arrested. Five more were detained in al-Maarid and al-Wassiti. A raid in al-Katoun netted an al-Qaeda leader.
A U.S. Humvee was destroyed in Diwaniya, but there is no word on casualties.


The Bush administration and the mainstream media, especially FOX NEWS, keep lying to the American public that there are plenty of new recruits for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is not the case and this story is proof postitive the Bush administraton and news outfits like FOX NEWS are lying to the American public.

Injured Rochester, NY veteran is called back up to serve in the military

Jamie Raymond was injured in Afghanistan four years ago and now a local disabled veteran is being ordered to go back. But, he tells us he is not fully recovered. he will travel to Georgia next month for a physical and mental exam to see if he can be deployed to Iraq. Raymond was injured when a rocket hit him in 2004. He lost hearing in one ear, had knee surgery.

Posted at: 04/14/2008 04:56:50 PMUpdated at: 04/14/2008 05:20:09 PM

By: Catherine Varnum

He was injured in Afghanistan four years ago and now a local disabled veteran is being ordered to go back. But, he tells us he is not fully recovered
His name is Jamie Raymond and he will travel to Georgia next month for a physical and mental exam to see if he can be deployed to Iraq.

Raymond was injured when a rocket hit him in 2004. He lost hearing in one ear, had knee surgery and has moved on with his life and is close to graduating from college. But, now that may not happen.

He was shocked when he got the paperwork. Raymond said, “I thought it was a joke.” But it wasn't a joke. Raymond got a letter from the military saying he was being called back up to serve.

“I didn't know what to feel. I heard people called back up but never after four years being out of the military.”

Raymond was honorably discharged in 2004. He's been getting therapy ever since at the veterans hospital in Buffalo.

“The last couple months of my tour I spent at the hospital with the doctor trying to fix my knee and get my hearing corrected.” But even with a bad knee and no hearing in his left ear, he has to report to Georgia in May. “As long as I can carry a gun and walk 12 miles my butt is still going overseas.”

When Raymond got home he went to college, and started leading a normal life. He's due to graduate in December from the University at Buffalo. This has just added extra stress to upcoming finals. Finals that are scheduled the week he's due in Georgia.

“Making me run around and go to school and worry about the normal life I’ve been living for four years.”

The only explanation Raymond has been able to get for the letter is that the veterans’ computer system isn't matching up with the active soldiers system.

“You put trust into the military, serve your country and come back and almost like you didn't do enough go back in.”

If Raymond doesn't show up next month, the army will consider him dishonorably discharged from the military which will hurt him trying to get jobs in the future. That's why he says he will go and be the soldier he was trained to be.


Suicide car bombing kills 34 in Iraq

Story Highlights
NEW: Suicide bombing in restive Iraqi provincial capital kills at least 34
Medical source and resident say women and children among the dead
U.S. troops kill six 'enemy fighters' near Baghdad's Sadr City
Two roadside bombs in Baghdad kill two and injure six people


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 34 people have died in the suicide car bombing that rocked a restive Iraqi provincial capital on Tuesday, a medical source told CNN.

Women and children are among the dead in the bombing, which happened outside a crowded restaurant near the courthouse and other government offices in Baquba, the medical source and a resident told CNN.

The incident occurred in the capital of Diyala province, where Iraqi and U.S. troops have been fighting Sunni and Shiite militants. Baquba is north of Baghdad, and the province stretches north and east of the capital, bordering Iran.

Col. Ragheb al-Omeiri, Diyala military operations command spokesman, said the suicide car bombing also wounded dozens of people.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said six "enemy fighters" were killed in fighting near Baghdad's Sadr City early Tuesday.
It is the latest violence in and near the neighborhood, where Iraq security forces backed by U.S. troops have been fighting Shiite militias.

A U.S. military spokesman confirmed six troops took small arms fire during an operation in Sudayra outside Sadr City early Tuesday and killed three "enemy fighters" in self-defense.

Troops continued to endure attacks, called in air support, and three more fighters were killed. There were no civilian casualties, the military said.
An Interior Ministry official said six "Iraqis" were killed and 26 were wounded in overnight airstrikes.

There was other violence on Tuesday in Baghdad: A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two street sweepers in central Baghdad's Watheq Square, the official said. The blast, which happened at 7:30 a.m., also wounded two street sweepers and two police officers, the official said.
Another roadside bomb, which exploded in southwestern Baghdad's Bayaa neighborhood, wounded a woman and child Tuesday morning, the official said.


The Bush administration and their puppet, FOX NEWS, keep lying to the American public about how well things are going in Iraq. On Monday alone 2 US soldiers were killed along with 87 Iraqi civilians, many of them women and children. Also, 142 Iraqis were wounded and again many of them were women and children.

Why is it the Bush administration and FOX NEWS can't tell the truth?

Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN editor of CORKSPHERE

2 US Soldiers, 87 Iraqis Killed; 142 Iraqis Wounded

Updated at 12:15 a.m. EDT, April 15, 2008

A British photojournalist held in captivity for two months was freed in Basra today. Meanwhile, 87 Iraqis were killed and another 142 were wounded in violent attacks. One American soldier was also killed during an IED attack in Salah ad Din province today, while another roadise bomb killed an American soldier in Baghdad.

Fourteen Peshmerga soldiers were killed and 15 more were wounded during a complex suicide bombing and smalls arms attack while the soldiers were on their way to Sinjar.

In Basra, British journalist Richard Butler was freed after spending two months in captivity. During his rescue, one kidnapper was injured. In a separate incident, gunmen assassinated a police commander, who was also a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Also, security forces reported that 15 Iraqi soldiers were killed and 400 more were wounded since the beginning of the "security crackdown."

As many as 35 badly decomposed bodies were found in a mass grave near Muqdadiyah in al-Zor village.

In Baghdad, a bomb placed under a parked car near Tayaran Square left five people dead and 13 more injured. Near the Technological Institute, a bomb on a bus killed two and wounded six more.

An IED triggered an early morning fire at al-Ummal marketplace. Last night, U.S. military personnel came under an RPG attack; six suspects were killed during retaliatory airstrikes. Also, two Iraqi soldiers were killed and another 21 were wounded during security operations in which 29 suspects were detained. Mortar attacks in Zayouna and Ghadeer left one dead and seven wounded. Five dumped bodies were also found. No casualties were reported after roadside bombs were detonated in Shabb, Tahriyat, and Fudhailiyah. Also, an official from the energy protection forces was kidnapped.

In Sadr City, ten people were wounded during clashes. Six of them were children.

In Tal Afar, a suicide bomber killed four people and injured 29 others who were attending a funeral. Six suspects were arrested.

Three separate bombs left two dead and 18 wounded in Mosul.

Gunmen attacked homes near Shurqat and injured 17 people within them.

A roadside bomb in Yusufiya killed two policemen and wounded another one.

Two bodies bearing gunshot wounds were found in Mahaweel.
Near Kirkuk, two bodies bearing gunshot and torture marks were discovered. No casualties were reported after a bombing.

Gunmen killed an NGO official near Wajihiya.

The latest reports on a bombing that left a Fallujah council member and his son wounded yesterday noted that four more family members were injured as well.

U.S. forces killed one suspect and captured 14 others in northern and central Iraq.
A body was found in Dour.

Also, Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says that policemen who were fired for not taking part in a crackdown targeting followers of al-Sadr were only following religious orders and should have their jobs returned to them. Last month, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki targeted al-Sadr's followers under the guise of a "security crackdown." Many soldiers and policemen refused to fight and some fought alongside the Mahdi army.


Iraq car bomb claims 20, injures 60 Tue, 15 Apr 2008 13:29:34

A car bomb has left 20 people killed and 60 wounded as it ripped through a crowd outside a courthouse in the Iraqi city of Baquba.

Details are sketchy. More updates to follow.


Academy officer led double life as call girl

By Chris Amos - Staff writerPosted : Monday Apr 14, 2008 16:20:47 EDT

By day, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Dickinson served as the Naval Academy food services officer, responsible for feeding 4,000 midshipmen, and occasionally taught a Navy leadership class in the academy’s ethics department.

By night, she worked as a prostitute, visiting homes and hotel rooms in the Washington, D.C., area. Using the name “Renee,” she had sex with men for $275 each.

Dickinson, testifying April 10 as a prosecution witness against Deborah Jeane Palfrey, a Northern California woman who federal prosecutors say ran a prostitution ring, said she worked for Palfrey for about six months starting in October 2005 and visited an unknown number of men, having sex with customers all but “maybe four, five times.”

Palfrey, the so-called “D.C. Madam,” faces as many as 55 years in prison if she is convicted on all counts. Dickinson, along with at least a dozen other women testifying against Palfrey, was granted immunity and can’t be prosecuted by federal or military authorities based on her testimony.

According to a court transcript, Dickinson testified that she found an advertisement for Palfrey’s company, Pamela Martin and Associates, during an Internet search. She then placed a phone call that set in motion a series of events that would eventually derail a promising Navy career, one that saw Dickinson rise from seaman to instructor at the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga.

Dickinson has since been removed from that post, has received a punitive letter of reprimand and may face more administrative actions, according to a Navy spokesman.

The call she made based on the Internet ad was answered by a woman who identified herself as Julia; several witnesses testified that “Julia” was an alias of Palfrey’s.

After Dickinson asked for work, she said the woman asked her to send a copy of her driver’s license and a picture, and then alluded to what would be expected of her.

“She just described how an evening would take place, and she had asked me a question, something like, ‘You know you’re not going there just to chat. Right?’”
“Yes,” Dickinson said she responded, indicating that she knew more than conversation would be expected. Palfrey then made arrangements for Dickinson to meet a man at a home in a Maryland suburb of Washington.

Dickinson described the encounter.
“We went in, we had small talk for a little bit, and then we began to have sexual relations. He tried to remove the condom. I was fighting to keep it on. [Afterwards] I told her that I was upset. I told her that he tried to remove the condom, and she said, ‘Don’t talk about such things on this phone.’”

Based on that appointment, Dickinson was hired. She began a routine that would last nearly six months, she said. At night, she would place a phone call to Palfrey, and on some nights — she doesn’t remember how many — she would get a call back.

“If [Palfrey] received phone calls, she would call me back and tell me the address of the appointment, and what time I was supposed to be there, and the person’s name. Then I would leave to go to the appointment. Whenever I was let in, I would take the money from the man first.

“Generally, I took clues from the men, so whatever, however they want you to approach. Many of them, we talked for a while. Others got intimate more quickly.”

She testified that she charged each man $275. She said she kept $130 and went to an Annapolis post office to send a $145 money order by Express Mail to a Benecia, Calif., post office box that Palfrey had rented.

‘Very pleasant, very nice’
Dickinson testified that she did not remember how many “appointments” she went on, but phone records released by Palfrey show more than 200 calls between her office and a cell phone registered to a Rebecca Dickinson of Atlanta. Dickinson did two tours in nearby Athens before serving at the academy.

“She was very pleasant, very nice,” Palfrey said of Dickinson in an interview with Navy Times last year. “She might talk about a rough day at work, but we really didn’t have much of a personal relationship.”

The last time Palfrey said she heard from Dickinson was when Dickinson sent her an e-mail in October 2006, asking to be put back to work after she had resolved some personal issues that caused her to take time off.

“If you need some extra help, I would be glad to work for you again, as a backup or regularly. If you are interested, please just let me know, and if not, I understand,” the e-mail read.

By that time, Palfrey had learned that she was under investigation and her company had folded. Palfrey said she never responded to the e-mail.

“I needed the money. Yes, I did,” Dickinson said, when Palfrey’s defense lawyer, Preston Burton, asked her if she sent the e-mail.

Navy officials say they first learned that Dickinson was a potential witness in the case in May 2007 and began sharing information with the Justice Department, but in deference to federal prosecutors, the service declined to launch an investigation at that time.

After Dickinson gave superiors detailed information about her involvement in the case earlier this month, she was fired her from her job at the Navy Supply Corps School, given the letter of reprimand, and was forced to go on indefinite leave.

“We expect the men and women who serve in our nation’s Navy to adhere to a standard of conduct that reflects our core values of honor, courage and commitment,” chief of naval personnel spokesman Capt. Jack Hanzlik said. “Lt. Cmdr. Dickinson’s conduct will prevent her from wearing this uniform again in the service of our country.”

Dickinson’s civilian lawyer said she understands her Navy career is over.
“She told the truth on the stand and really regrets this episode in her life. Even if she is not prosecuted, she will be paying a price for the rest of her life. We are trying to preserve what we can,” attorney Jonathan Gladstone said April 10. “We aren’t expecting her back in uniform. All things considered, we are happy with that.”

Dickinson enlisted in 1986 as an aviation electronics technician. She left the service three years later, graduated from Auburn University, and was commissioned as a supply officer in 1993. She has served aboard the cruiser Bunker Hill, the fast combat support ship Camden and the ammunition supply ship Santa Barbara, earning two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals and four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals.

A Navy officer familiar with the case said financial pressures might have motivated her; Dickinson said in court she filed for bankruptcy shortly after the escort service folded.
Palfrey said Dickinson had difficulty caring for her three children, had separated from her husband after a rocky marriage and missed work frequently to care for a sick child.
Dickinson’s lawyer said she did not wish to comment.

Whatever her reasons, Dickinson faces an uncertain future — she has more than 19 years of service time and could be forced to leave the Navy without retirement benefits.
Hanzlik said “a final determination has not been made with regards to her ability to retire,” but said “if she is, it could be at a lower rank because a retirement grade determination might find that her service as a lieutenant commander was not honorable.”


Iraqi Militias Offering Aid To Displaced

By Walter PincusWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, April 15, 2008; A12

The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which has provided little financial assistance to the more than 2 million Iraqis who have fled the country's sectarian violence, has also failed to support millions more internally displaced persons who are instead being aided by militias, according to a report by Refugees International due for release today.

"Militias of all denominations are improving their local base of support by providing social services in neighborhoods and towns they control," the report says. It also finds that the Iraqi government, "although it has access to large sums of money," lacks the capacity and political will "to address humanitarian needs."

Some senior Iraqi officials are suspicious of the refugees' political and religious leanings, and question the numbers coming from host governments, according to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker.

"They are suspicious of the statistics and think they are being inflated by host governments and NGOs so they can get more money from Iraq and the United States," Crocker told Washington Post reporters and editors last week. Crocker also said Iraqi officials have questioned whether all the individuals qualify as refugees, saying that many of those who fled the country for Jordan, Syria and elsewhere "were opposed to the new order."

Click on link for full Washington Post story.


Iraqi law to isolate Sadr

Pepe Escobar : Bill would outlaw political parties with militias; Sadr City being turned into a "gulag"

Tuesday April 15th, 2008

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is terrified Sadr movement will win the coming provincial elections. This is a major reason for the campaign against Sadr now.

Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Pepe Escobar writes The Roving Eye for Asia Times Online. He has reported from Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, US and China. He is the author of the recently published Red Zone Blues. Pepe is a regular analyst for The Real News Network.

Watch video for a clear explanation of what is going on behind the scenes in Iraq as two major political forces battle for control of Iraq.



US keeps changing rationale for Iraq war. First ousting Saddam, then countering Al-Qaeda militants, now Iran motivates US war in Iraq. What will it be next week or next month? And nobody ever talks about the elusive WMDs or weapons of mass destruction.

By Laurent Lozano - CRAWFORD, Texas

The rationale for war in Iraq has morphed from ousting strongman Saddam Hussein to countering Al-Qaeda militants to its latest incarnation - facing down what officials in the administration of President George W. Bush call the Iranian "threat."

"Iraq is the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: Al-Qaeda and Iran," Bush said last week, renewing accusations that the Islamic republic is backing Iraqi militias hostile to US forces and covertly seeking nuclear weapons.

"If we succeed in Iraq after all that Al-Qaeda and Iran have invested there, it would be a historic blow to the global terrorist movement and a severe setback for Iran," he said.

With Saddam dead and Al-Qaeda weakened, according to Bush, Iranian-financed extremists, which top US commander in Iraq David Petraeus has called "special groups," have emerged as a key reason for maintaining US troop levels in Iraq.

"Unchecked, the 'special groups' pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq," Petraeus said last week as he told US lawmakers of military strategy in Iraq for the coming months.

However, exactly what steps the United States may take to counter this "threat" remain unclear, and depend largely on Bush's decisions in his remaining nine months in the White House.

Bush told ABC News that he had no intention of attacking Iran, but vowed to protect US interests and refused to rule out the use of force altogether.

"The message to the Iranians is: we will bring you to justice if you continue to try to infiltrate, send your agents or send surrogates to bring harm to our troops and/or the Iraqi citizens," Bush said.

Asked to elaborate on this "justice," Bush replied: "It means capture or kill, is what that means."
Bush repeated that "all options need to be on the table, but my first effort is to solve this issue diplomatically," and added that he was amused by unfounded rumors of an impending attack.