Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Half of Vets Suffering Brain and Mind Injuries Go Untreated, But Pentagon Pretends Nothing's Going on

By Penny Coleman, AlterNetPosted on April 29, 2008, Printed on April 29, 2008


The silverbacks are grooming and posturing at the microphones.

Cammo and khaki, wall to wall. Bob Ireland, an Air Force psychiatrist and consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General, welcomes the audience to the Department of Defense's sixth annual Suicide Prevention Conference and makes jokes about how suicide prevention has been the DoD's bastard child, homeless and parentless.

In January 2008, the child nobody wanted finally managed to find a home. The Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury assumed responsibility for an issue and an injury that the military has hidden and denied for generations.

It's been left up to Lt. Col. Steven Pflanz, the senior psychiatry policy analyst for the Air Force surgeon general, to report on the mental healthcare practices that have been developed for those on active duty. Kerry Knox, director of the VA's Center for Excellence on Suicide Prevention, was scheduled to share with him these introductory remarks, but is not in attendance. Apologies are made, but no one mentions how obviously difficult it would be for her to get into the self-congratulatory HOOAH! spirit of this conference when her boss just got busted big time for hiding VA suicide statistics, not just to the media but to Congress as well.
"Shh!" Ira Katz, the VA's mental health director, coyly began an email to the agency's chief communications director -- and inconveniently made public just this week. "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?"

Click on this link to read the full story:


U.S. shelling on Sadr City leaves 84 casualties

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Tuesday , 29 /04 /2008 Time 8:59:20

Baghdad, Apr 29, (VOI) - The death toll from the U.S. shelling on Sadr City in the past 6 hours reached 24 dead and 60 wounded, a medical source said on Tuesday.

“The U.S. shelling in sectors 10 and 11 in Sadr City from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm on Tuesday left 24 dead and 60 wounded, most of them women and children,” the source, who asked for anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).

Sadr City, a stronghold of Sadr's Mahdi Army militias, has been witnessing armed clashes since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced last month the commencement of a security operation codenamed Saulat al-Forsan (Knights' Assault) in the port city of Basra, Iraq's second largest province and an oil-hub, 590 km south of Baghdad, which he said targeted "outlaws."Hundreds of Sadr supporters were killed or wounded in intense fighting, which still continues.


Former KBR employees say workers stole from Iraq, ‘melted down gold to make spurs.


Yesterday, two former employees of embattled contract company KBR told a congressional panel that some of their coworkers frequently stole money and artwork from Iraq. One said that “some of her American colleagues doing construction work in Iraqi palaces and municipal buildings took woodcarvings, tapestries and crystal ‘and even melted down gold to make spurs for cowboy boots.’” Another said that “a KBR foreman tried to take military equipment, including two rocket launchers, detonators and ammunition.” Two weeks ago, the firm was awarded a $150 million, 10-year contract for work with the U.S. Army.


The mainstream media continues to focus all their coverage on the dustup over Rev. Jeremy Wright's comments and a concerted effort to torpedo the campaign of Barak Obama while in Iraq more US soldiers have been killed and there is widespread violence in Baghdad and every province in Iraq,

The mainstream media doesn't report on Iraq anymore, but we continue to bring readers of this blog the latest casualties from the Iraq war and the escalating violence that is sweeping across Iraq.

To obtain further information on the stories below just click on the part in "blue."

Casualty Reports:Spc. Ryan Bair of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. Just last month, Bair was manning the gun turret of his Humvee during an escort mission in Iraq when a bomb went off nearby. As he turned his head in the direction of the blast -- at that very precise second -- a sniper's bullet glanced off the left side of his helmet, just above the ear. Had he not turned his head in that flash of time, he would have been killed. Even then, the impact of the bullet knocked him down with a concussion-type injury. Many of his fellow troops in the Humvee thought he was dead. The 26-year-old Bair, attached to Company C, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Brigade, reflected on that pivotal day in March.

Sgt. Marcus Kuboy a Twin Cities soldier wounded in a bomb attack a year ago while serving in the Minnesota National Guard. The Robbinsdale native, served three years of active duty for the Minnesota Guard until he suffered serious injuries in March 2007. He was patrolling the outskirts of Fallujah with his unit when his vehicle ran over an IED bomb. The explosion severely injured Duboy's legs and broke his back, left arm and jaw. In his initial nine months of recovery, Kuboy endured eight surgeries and spent four months at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington. Kuboy, 30, a medic, is now getting more treatment in the Twin Cities.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the deaths of three Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in an indirect-fire attack in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday, April 28th. No other details were released.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in an indirect-fire attack in a western neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday, April 28th. No other details were released.NATO is reporting the death of an ISAF soldier while on a patrol in the Tag Ab Valley, Kapisa province, Afghanistan on Tuesday, April 29th. One other soldier was wounded. No additional details were released but we assume this to be an American soldier.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: Eight people were killed and 67 were wounded Tuesday in Baghdad's embattled eastern Sadr City district. Overnight clashes resulted in 42 injuries, officials at the Imam Ali and al-Sadr general hospitals said. Eight more were killed and 25 wounded in continuing firefights on Tuesday morning, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.Twenty-four militants were killed and four US soldiers wounded in fierce clashes between US soldiers and fighters in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Tuesday, the American military said. The fighting erupted at around 9:30 am (0630 GMT) when a US patrol was targeted with small arms fire in which a soldier was wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover told AFP.As the soldier was being evacuated a US vehicle was struck by two roadside bombs, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, he said. The "complex" attack damaged the vehicle and wounded three other soldiers, he said, adding that another US vehicle was later damaged by a third road bomb. Stover said US soldiers defended themselves and "killed 24 enemy forces in a protracted gunbattle," adding that the firefight was still continuing.Shiite militants ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City district on Tuesday and more than two dozen people were killed in the fighting, a U.S. military spokesman and Iraqi officials said. Six American soldiers were wounded. The clashes broke out at 9:30 a.m. after U.S. troops were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Stover said. As the troops were leaving the area, a vehicle was hit with two roadside bombs, Stover said.

#2: Also in Baghdad, a senior government official was killed in a roadside bombing in the north of the city. Dhia Jodi Jaber, director general at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, was hit by a roadside bomb as he left his home on Tuesday morning, the ministry's spokesman Abdullah al-Lami said.A roadside bomb blew up outside the house of Dhiyaa al-Judi, a civil servant in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, killing him and wounding two of his guards in the Utaifiya district of eastern Baghdad, police said.

#3: The U.S. military said three soldiers were killed in eastern Baghdad by indirect fire, a reference to mortars or rockets. The statement did not give an exact location for the attack, but the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City has been the scene of intense fighting recently with Shiite militiamen.

#4: A fourth U.S. soldier was killed by a shell in western Baghdad, the military said.

#5: AUSTRALIAN soldiers in Iraq have come under heavy rocket fire in Baghdad's green zone after sandstorms sent blankets of dust across the city and provided cover for insurgents.

#6: Around 1:00 p.m. two mortar shells hit al Jaish club building (the Army Club) in Karrada neighborhood in downtown Baghdad. No casualties reported.

#7: Another mortar shell slammed into the area near the neurosurgery hospital in Bab al Sharj neighborhood in downtown Baghdad at the same time. No casualties reported.

#8: Two civilians were injured when a mortar shell hit al Muheet Street in Kadhemiyah neighborhood north Baghdad around 2,45 p.m.

#9: Three civilians were injured when a mortar shell slammed into a house in Karrad Maryam neighborhood in downtown Baghdad around 3:00 p.m.

#10: Two civilians were killed and five others were wounded when a Katyosha rocket hit New Baghdad neighborhood in east Baghdad around 3:15 p.m.

#11: Several people were believed killed on Tuesday in two US air strikes in the Baghdad bastion of Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, an AFP photographer and witnesses said. "Four houses have been heavily damaged," a resident of the Sadr City district said on condition of anonymity. Another witness said US forces launched the first air strike at around 1:30 pm (1030 GMT) in the southern section of Sadr City. "As a group of people came to rescue those buried in the collapsed houses, another air strike hit them," the witness said.

Diyala Prv:Muqdadiya:#1: Elsewhere, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a bus stop near Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, killing one and wounding five people, police said.

Abu Saida:#1: Also on Tuesday, a female suicide bomber blew herself up among a group of local Awakening Council fighters who were manning a checkpoint in the Abu Saida town in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, killing two of them and wounding 10 others.Khanaqin:#1: Unidentified gunmen opened fire at three civilians in Jalawlaa, Khanaqin district, (185 km) northeast of Baghdad, killing them instantly," a security source, who did not want his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

Balad Ruz:#1: The same source said an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near an Iraqi army patrol in Baladruz district, (45 km) southeast of Baaquba, wounding three personnel.

Baquba:#1: The supporting office of Qazanya district tribes east of Baquba found six unidentified bodies in a deserted house in one of the villages of Qazanya.

Kirkuk:#1: Two bodies were found with gunshot wounds just outside Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

#2: A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi Army patrol, wounding seven people including three soldiers in southern Kirkuk, police said.

#3: A roadside bomb wounded two policemen when it targeted their patrol in central Kirkuk on Monday, police said.

Mosul:#1: Iraqi soldiers at a military base in Mosul, the capital of the northern province of Nineveh, foiled a suicide tanker bomb attack on their base, said the provincial police. The incident occurred at about 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) when a suicide bomber tried to drive his booby-trapped tanker into the army base in the al-Tanak area in western Mosul, Brigadier Khalid Abdul-Sattar, spokesman of the provincial security operations office told Xinhua. The soldiers at the entrance of the base ordered the tanker driver to stop before they opened fire with rocket propelled grenades and machinguns, causing a powerful explosion in the tanker which was heard on all over the city of Mosul, Sattar said. Only one soldier was injured by the blast because the soldiers blew up the tanker before reaching the fortified entrance of the base, added the spokesman.

#2: An Iraqi soldier was killed and five others were injured when a suicide car bomb attacked their check point in al Yarmouk neighborhood in west Mosul on Tuesday afternoon.

Afghanistan:#1: A suspected suicide bomber killed 15 Afghans and wounded 14 more in eastern Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, a NATO spokesman said. Initial reports said 25 Afghans were wounded in the blast near the district centre of Khogiani, a town south of the city of Jalalabad, but the number of wounded was later revised to 14, said Major Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).A suicide bomb tore through a team preparing to eradicate opium poppy fields in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 18 people, most of them policemen, the government said. The hardline Taliban movement said one of its men carried out the attack in the small town of Khogyani in the eastern province of Nangarhar, near the insurgency-hit border with Pakistan. The bomb struck as a counternarcotics team, which included the district governor, was preparing to travel to opium fields on a mission to rip up illegal poppy crops, the interior ministry said in a statement. "Eleven police and seven (civilians) lost their lives and 31 others were wounded," it said. The district chief was among the wounded, it said.

#2: U.S. Marines began moving in to capture a town from Taliban militants in the south, their first large operation in Afghanistan since arriving to reinforce NATO troops last month. The U.S. Marines' drive into the town of Garmsir in Helmand, the world' biggest opium producing region and a hotbed of insurgent activity, is the first significant fruit of that move.Several militants were killed and 14 were arrested in western Afghanistan, while US marines and British forces launched a new major operation against a Taliban stronghold in a southern town, officials said on Tuesday. Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed "several militants" and detained 14 others during a search operation in Khash Rod district of western Nimroz province on Monday, US military said in a statement. The combined forces came under fire by rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns during the operation targeting a militant engaged in weapon movement to militants in the area, the statement said. The joint forces responded to the militants' attack with small-arms fire and air strikes, killing several of the rebels.

#3: (?) The Taliban shelled the Polish troops accused of unlawful civilian killings in Nangar Khel, Afghanistan, writes Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

#4: Sabri district chief escaped unharmed after a roadside bomb explosion blew up his vehicle in the restive southeastern Khost province early on Monday morning. Sabri district chief Gul Qasam Jihadyar told Pajhwok Afghan News the roadside bomb explosion took place on his way to the office in the district this morning. He said: "The explosion blew up a taxi after our vehicle passed." Blaming insurgents for the roadside bomb explosion he said the civilian taxi was damaged however no casualties caused to the onboard people. Taliban fighters have issued no comment on the incident.


Juan Cole, the award winning journalist, reports on the increase in mortar and rocket attacks in Baghdad, and how many construction projects paid for US taxpayer money have been abandoned before they were finished because of security problems.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mortar, Rocket attacks in Baghdad; in aftermath of Militia Campaign

Baghdad has been roiled for the past three days with major fighting between Iraqi government/ US forces and the Mahdi Army militia in east and north Baghdad, leaving 45 militiamen dead and an unstated number of Iraqi troops. At one point on Sunday, the a Mahdi Army company nearly took a government checkpoint in the northeast, and the US had to bring in a tank to save the Iraqi army unit.Guerrillas launched numerous mortar and katyusha rocket attacks on Monday.

Reuters reports: "A mortar round landed behind the Rashid Hotel in the Green Zone government compound, wounding five people including a child, police said . . . Five people were wounded in a mortar attack in Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad . . . Three mortar bombs landed on a police station in Jazair district, eastern Baghdad, wounding three policemen . . . A mortar blast wounded one person in the Mansour district, western Baghdad . . .

"On Monday, Two mass graves have been found in Iraq in the past two days, each with about 50 bodies in them. Sunni Arab guerrilla groups made "collaborators" or rivals disappear this way as an object lesson.The alleged flow of arms from Iran to south Iraq has not in fact increased in recent months (and my own suspicion is that US authorities mistake some black market arms selling for Iranian-government supplied weaponry). So why does the Bush administration and Pentagon stridency about Iran go up an down without reference to any facts on the ground? Seems to me that they deploy charges against Iran in an Orwellian way, as a tool of diplomatic pressure, when it suits them.

McClatchy profiles Brg. Gen. Qassem Suleimani of the Quds Force within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It is a good story, but it reflects the breathlessness of Green Zone conspiracy theories. For instance, some American alleged to the reporters that Suleimani engineered the victory of the Shiite religious parties in January 2005 over Iyad Allawi. Allawi had been appointed by the US, was an ex-Baathist, and a known CIA asset. He was defeated by a coalition list of Shiite parties that had struggled against Saddam Hussein and were endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Attributing their defeat of Allawi to the Quds Force is just silly. Likewise, the allegations of extensive Iranian spying on Iraq or of bringing in "Hizbullah" from Lebanon (for which there is no good evidence) are unproved and the premise is unnecessary. If the Badr Corps was until recently part of the Iranian military, as the authors concede, then you don't need to posit a lot of phantom Iranian agents who are providing intelligence on Iraq to Tehran. Badr, Ahmad Chalabi, and other supposed US assets are double agents, guys. If Iraq were crawling with Iranian agents, the US would have more Iranians in custody than it does (last I knew, it was like 5 diplomats).

AFP draws aside the curtain on the micro-economy of the struggle between the Islamic State of Iraq of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and local clans in Iskandariya south of Baghdad, which centered on the region's fish farms. The article also gives evidence that al-Baghdadi, who the US military maintains is a fictive personality created by foreign fighters to give themselves Iraqi legitimacy, is a real Iraqi person with a history in the Iskandariya area. The US is mostly fighting Iraqis in Iraq, but is reluctant to have this fact become known.

A lot of money was wasted on phantom reconstruction projects in Iraq left incomplete because of poor contractor performance. In other words, US tax payers made an involuntary contribution to Friends of George, which would be a good way of summing up the Iraq occupation in general.

The US Pentagon is suspending a campaign to influence the retired military talking heads who come on television in the US, after the NYT blew the whistle on it. Reuters notes: "Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said some of the analysts appeared to be working for defense contractors, raising a potential conflict of interest." You always suspected these things about corporate media coverage of Iraq, but seeing it in cold black and white is bracing. I have more than once been put opposite some sunshine peddler on radio or television and wondered whether the person was on the take.McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Monday:
' Baghdad- Around 11 pm Sunday, 4 mortar shells hit the Green Zone (IZ) in central Baghdad. No casualties reported.- Around midnight, 3 mortars hit the intelligence headquarters in Baladiyat neighborhood (east Baghdad). No casualties reported.- Around 3 am, three mortar shells hit Mamil neighborhood. Five people were injured in that incident.- Around 8 am, a mortar hit the Green Zone (IZ) in central Baghdad. No casualties reported.- Around 10 am, a mortar hit the area beyond the Sa'aa restaurant at Mansour neighborhood (west Baghdad). Two civilians were injured in that incident.- Around 1 pm, 3 mortar shells hit Al-Jazaer police station in Sadr city. Three policemen were injured with some damage to the building.- Around 1:30pm, An American warplane targeted a Hino truck which was carrying Katyusha missiles at Al-Qanat street (east Baghdad). Two people were injured in that incident.- Around 2 pm, a motor bicycle bomb targeted Sahwa members (also known as Sons of Iraq). One member was killed and three others were injured.- Around 2 :15 pm, a roadside bomb targeted a civilian car (Toyota Pick up ) which was carrying technicians employees of the power supply service on the high way of Nahdha neighborhood (north Baghdad).Three of the employees were injured in that incident.- Around 2:30 pm, a roadside bomb targeted the Sahwa members check point at Adhamiyah neighborhood (north Baghdad) near Qasim Abu Al-Ghas restaurant .Three members were injured in that incident.- Around 4:30 pm, a Katyusha missile hit Al-Sadeer hotel in Karrada neighborhood (central Baghdad).No casualties or damage recorded as it was in the garden of this hotel.- Around 5 pm, a mortar shell hit an area behind the Rashid hotel in the green zone (IZ) which is a residential compound .Five people were injured in that incident including a child.- Around 5 :30 pm, a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in Amil neighborhood (west Baghdad) .No casualties reported on the American side .While we have four civilians injured in that incident including a child and woman.- Police found 6 dead bodies in Baghdad today: 4 were found in Karkh bank of Baghdad ; 1 in Kadhimiyah, 1 in Hurriyah, 1 in Dora and 1 in Yarmouk. While 2 were found in east Baghdad (Risafa bank); 1 in Ur and 1 in Jisr Diyala.Diyala- Around 4:30 pm, gunmen of the Qaeda attacked Al-Bayjat village (south of Baquba ). The residents of the village who join the Sahwas (Sons of Iraq) councils resisted them and killed five gunmen including a leader.Kirkuk- Sunday night, gunmen opened fire on an Iraqi army soldier at Tuz Khurmatu (south of Kirkuk).The soldier was killed at once and the gunmen ran away.Basra- Before noon, gunmen killed a Sadrist leader at Timimiyah neighborhood downtown Basra. Also his wife was injured as she was with him walking home. '


Unsafe Haven
Baghdad's Green Zone has become the latest battleground in the struggle for Iraq.

Lennox Samuels
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 4:05 PM ET Apr 28, 2008


For several days there was a lull. But then rockets and mortars started slamming into the Green Zone on Sunday afternoon and kept coming well into the night, as if the Shiite fighters in Sadr City were making up for the respite. A heavy dust storm choked Baghdad, adding a sense of claustrophobia while providing the insurgents cover.

"They're getting closer and closer," noted veteran security expert Mike Arrighi. Arrighi, who works and lives in the tightly defended Zone, says that this week's barrage shows the same "consistency, intensity and ferocity" of the initial attacks that began almost a month ago. That bombardment tapered off after the first week, as the U.S. military quickly neutralized many Shiite launch sites. But this week's barrage suggested that the militants haven't yet had the fight knocked out of them.

This could turn into a drawn-out siege. Infuriated by recent Iraqi government crackdowns on Shiite militias and criminals in Basra and southern Baghdad, the insurgents in the impoverished neighborhood of Sadr City appear have set their sights on the psychologically important Green Zone.

The shelling has killed two American soldiers and two civilians who worked for the U.S. government or military and injured at least two dozen others.

In Sadr City, U.S. and Iraqi retaliation has left dozens dead. U.S and Iraqi Army brass say they have crippled the insurgents' ability to fire rockets into the area, but this week's renewed shelling has some worried that the Green Zone may become a new battleground in the struggle for Iraq.

Cornered in their sprawling inburb of about 2.5 million people and stoked by incendiary rhetoric from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who threatened all-out war against the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Shiite groups have lashed out at the Zone with heavy mortars and Katyusha rockets. They had few options other than the airborne offensive.

Heavy fortifications and massive concrete barriers make small-arms attacks virtually impossible. The ground campaign ordered by Maliki has thinned their numbers. Rigorous security at checkpoints and ever vigilant Zone police patrols have made car bombs, IEDS and suicide bombings much harder to organize. "They have to go over our heads," says a U.S. embassy staffer who requested anonymity.

Click on link to read full Newsweek story.