Saturday, June 28, 2008


As we have been reporting on this blog for months, the mainstream press in the United States has put the Iraq War on the back burner and in so doing they are covering for the Bush administration and the failure of the Iraqi Parliament to meet any of the benchmarks set down by President Bush months and months ago.

In fact, the Guardian U.K. newspaper is reporting in their Saturday edition that three of major benchmarks Bush wanted will not be met by the time he leaves office in next January.

The only time the media, especially FOX NEWS, gets around to reporting on Iraq is when some military action has liberated a town or city in Iraq, but the Iraq war is no longer a military action but one of reconciliation of the Iraqi government and that is still a pipe dream.

So FOX NEWS and the others can prattle on about how wonderful things are in Anbar Province, but none of that means a thing because the Iraqi government is a government in name only and has yet to accomplish anything significant.

The following story from the Guardian U.K. spells out the problems the next President of the United States is going to have because President Bush is going to leave in his lap a total mess in Iraq when it comes to reaching any of the benchmarks.

Iraqi MPs stall deals on Bush benchmarks

Provincial elections likely to be delayed until 2009 · Suspicion of foreign firms slows progress on oil

Jonathan Steele
The Guardian,
Saturday June 28, 2008
Article history

Three key US-backed measures on oil, provincial elections and the future of US troops are mired in the Iraqi parliament, raising doubts as to whether they can come into effect before George Bush leaves office.

Once listed as a crucial "benchmark" allowing the US president to claim success in Iraq, the provincial elections look likely to be delayed until next year. The oil law, which nationalist MPs blocked last summer over fears that foreign companies would take over Iraq's major resource, is facing the same problem again.

The pact to permit US troops to remain in Iraq is equally sensitive, and was described by the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, this month as being in stalemate. Intensive US-Iraqi talks on new drafts have resumed and, after meeting Bush in the White House this week, President Jalal Talabani tried to sound optimistic. "We have very good, important steps towards reaching to finalise this agreement," he said. Many MPs complain that it will give the US excessive rights.
David Satterfield, the US state department's senior adviser for Iraq, refused to put a date on finishing the talks. "No agreement will be reached unless it meets Iraq's requirements with respect to sovereignty, authority and decision, and unless Iraq's leaders believe this is an agreement they can defend to their people," he said.

He appeared to confirm Iraq's oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani's disclosure to the Guardian last week that Iraq was insisting on a veto of US military operations, including the arrest of Iraqis. "We respect, we acknowledge the primacy of that Iraqi sovereignty, that Iraqi national decision ... They certainly inform the context of the Iraqi positions."

The pact will allow US bases in the country, even though they may fly the Iraqi flag. Many Iraqis fear that the US wants a long-term presence. "We very much see these arrangements as transitional," Satterfield said.

Meanwhile, chances for the provincial polls to take place this year hang in the balance. Satterfield said: "The elections law really must be complete by the end of July because there's a specific timeframe for other steps that must be taken."

Unlike the closed lists used in 2005, which helped big parties, a consensus is emerging for a hybrid system. Voters will be able to elect independents and rather than selecting an entire party list, they will have to mark each preferred candidate so the top names have no advantage.

Elections in the disputed city of Kirkuk are likely to be deferred. Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomans cannot agree on registration lists because Saddam Hussein displaced thousands of Kurds and brought in Arab settlers. Each community claims to have a demographic majority. The Kurds control the council so deferral helps them.

The Kurds have reluctantly agreed to postpone again the referendum on self-determination, required by Iraq's constitution, in Kirkuk and other regions with large Kurdish populations. Iraq's Arab parties and western diplomats argue that a referendum could spark new inter-communal violence.

Rows between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government, which has defied the federal government by signing oil deals with small foreign companies, are making the passage of a new oil law difficult.

About this articleClose
This article appeared in
the Guardian on Saturday June 28 2008 on p20 of the International section. It was last updated at 00:08 on June 28 2008.


The mainstream media in the United States has once again failed to explain fully why there is relative peace and quiet in Baghdad.

Huge concrete walls have been erected walling off parts Baghdad much like the Berlin Wall divided Berlin.

The United States military quietly constructed the Berlin-type wall as a means of holding down violence in Baghdad.

The residents of Baghdad are not happy with the walls and are now making their feelings known.

Baghdad's walls keep peace but feel like prison

By HAMZA HENDAWIAssociated Press Writer

Baghdad hasn't been this quiet in years. But the respite from bloodshed comes at a high price.
Up to 20 feet high in some sections.

Rows after rows of barrier walls divide the city into smaller and smaller areas that protect people from bombings, sniper fire and kidnappings. They also lead to gridlock, rising prices for food and homes, and complaints about living in what feels like a prison.

Baghdad's walls are everywhere. They have turned a riverside capital of leafy neighborhoods and palm-lined boulevards into a city of shadows that separate Sunnis from Shiites.

The walls block access to schools, mosques, churches, hotels, homes, markets and even entire neighborhoods - almost anything that could be attacked. For many Iraqis, they have become the iconic symbol of the war.

"Maybe one day they will remove it," said Kareem Mustapha, a 26-year-old Sadr City resident who lives a five-minute walk from a wall built this spring in the large Shiite district.
"I don't know when, but it is not soon."

Indeed, new walls are still going up, the latest one around the northwestern Shiite neighborhood of Hurriyah, where thousands of Sunnis were slaughtered or expelled in 2006. They could well be around for years to come, enforcing the capital's fragile peace and enshrining its sectarian divisions.

Some walls are colorful, painted by young local artists with scenes depicting green pastures or the pomp and glory of Iraq's ancient civilizations.

Others are commercial, plastered with fliers advertising everything from the local kebab joint to seaside vacations in Iran or university degrees in Ukraine.

Still others are religious or political, with posters of popular clerics or graffiti hostile to the United States, Israel or - most recently - Iraq's prime minister.

Most are just bleak and gray, a reminder that danger lurks on the other side.


The Pentagon is preparing to order roughly 30,000 troops to Iraq early next year in a move that would allow the U.S. to maintain 15 combat brigades in the country through 2009, The Associated Press has learned.

APNewBreak: Officials say Pentagon to order 30,000 troops to Iraq in 2009
LOLITA C. BALDOR AP NewsJun 27, 2008 20:05 EST

The deployments would replace troops currently there. But the decisions could change depending on whether Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, decides in the fall to further reduce troop levels in Iraq.

Several officials familiar with the deployments spoke on condition of anonymity because the orders have not yet been made public.

According to the officials, three active-duty Army brigade combat teams, one Army National Guard brigade and two Marine regimental combat teams are being notified that they are being sent to Iraq in early 2009. Officials would not release the specific units involved because the soldiers and Marines and their families have not all been told.

The Guard unit, however, is the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, from the Pennsylvania National Guard. Members of that unit — a large brigade with heavily armored Stryker vehicles — were told last October that they should be prepared to deploy to Iraq early in 2009.

The order this week is the formal notice that includes a more specific time frame.

Currently, the final brigade involved in the military buildup in Baghdad last year is pulling out of Iraq. That departure will leave 15 combat brigades there — compared to a high of 20 for much of the past year. Other smaller units are also there, including troops doing security, logistics, air assaults, intelligence and medical aid.

Overall, there are about 146,000 forces in Iraq, and that number is expected to dip to about 142,000 by mid-July when that last unit is all out. That total is at least 7,000 more than the number of troops in Iraq before the buildup began early last year.

Petraeus told Congress in May that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions in Iraq, but he did not provide any details. If he decides in the fall that fewer brigades will be needed in Iraq during the next year, there is the chance that brigades could simply be directed to the war in Afghanistan instead.

There is a broad consensus that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, to both train the security forces and fight the insurgents. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Bush, earlier this year, told NATO allies that they would increase troop levels in Afghanistan in 2009 in response to the growing violence.


Pentagon: Taliban 'resilient' in Afghanistan
Story Highlights
NEW: Taliban have regrouped and formed a "resilient insurgency," report says
Monthly death toll of U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan reaches 7-year high
40 troops have been killed in Taliban attacks in June
Gates hopes Pakistani crackdown will curb Taliban violence
From Mike MountCNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly seven years after their defeat by U.S. forces, the Taliban have regrouped and have formed a "resilient insurgency," according to a new Pentagon report on security in Afghanistan.

On the same day the number of U.S. and allied troops killed in Afghanistan in June has reached 40, the highest monthly toll of the 7-year-old war.

"The Report Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan," the first progress report to Congress, says that although there has been some progress in battling the Taliban, setbacks are expected.

Although NATO and Afghan force operations kept the insurgency down in 2007 by killing or capturing key leaders and clearing out Taliban safe havens, the report predicted that the Taliban would be back in 2008.

"The Taliban is likely to maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings in 2008," the report said.

The report looks at the progress through April, before the rise in violence seen over recent weeks.

On June 14, a suicide bomb at an Afghan prison in Kandahar freed hundreds of Taliban prisoners. There also have been numerous attacks on the restive Afghanistan-Pakistan border in recent weeks.

There are 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. About 14,000 serve as part of the larger NATO force, and 18,000 are separate, involved in training and on counterterrorism operations.


This is the latest list of confirmed deaths of U.S. troops.

Source: Click on BLUE for more details re each casualty

U.S. Confirmed Deaths Reported Deaths:
4113 Confirmed Deaths:
4110 Pending Confirmation:
3 DoD Confirmation List

Latest Coalition Fatalities
06/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 2)
Maj. Dwayne M. Kelley, 48, of Willingboro, N.J., who was assigned to the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Green Bay, Wis...died June 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from a bomb blast.

06/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 2)
Chief Warrant Officer Robert C. Hammett, 39, of Tucson, Ariz., who was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo...died June 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from a bomb blast.

06/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 3)
Pfc. James M. Yohn, 25, of Highspire, Pa...died June 25 in Mosul, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device on June 24. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment...

06/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 3)
Spc. Joel A. Taylor, 20, of Pinetown, N.C... died June 25 in Mosul, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device on June 24. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment...

06/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 3)
Sgt. Alejandro A. Dominguez, 24, of San Diego, Calif... died June 25 in Mosul, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device on June 24. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment...

06/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Bryan M. Thomas, 22, of Lake Charles, La., died June 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered in Salman Pak, Iraq, when his patrol encountered small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion...

06/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Joshua L. Plocica, 20, of Clarksville, Tenn., died June 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment...

06/26/08 MNF: Marines attacked by enemy force - 3 Marines killed
Three Multi-National Force - West Marines and two interpreters were killed in action against an enemy force in Anbar Province June 26.


Senators Who Still Refuse to Support the Troops
Posted: 27 Jun 2008 10:56 AM CDT

Six U.S. Senators maintained their refusal to support the troops by voting against the new GI Bill yesterday. One refused to support the troops by simply not voting.
Here's the list of those who
voted against the bill--all of whom are Republicans who support a radical anti-troop, anti-veteran agenda:

Kyl (R-AZ)

Allard (R-CO
Craig (R-ID)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Coburn (R-OK)
DeMint (R-SC)

John McCain did not vote on the bill, thus proving, once again, that he is unwilling to support America's troops and veterans when they need it most. It's ironic that McCain would skip this vote, considering that just over a month ago, he said this:

Unlike Senator Obama, my admiration, respect and deep gratitude for America's veterans is something more than a convenient campaign pledge. I think I have earned the right to make that claim.

I guess that "admiration, respect and deep gratitude" doesn't extend to providing troops with an education once they've served out their commitment on the battlefield.

News and Open Thread
Posted: 27 Jun 2008 07:00 AM CDT
The GI Bill has now
passed both houses of Congress. The President is set to sign it into law.
Go check out the
OEF and OIF casualty pages. Troop deaths--both American and non-American--are going through the roof, especially in Afghanistan.

I'll have more about this next week.

VetVoice front page writers Richard Smith (RockRichard) and Alex Horton (ThisDudesArmy) will sit on a panel at Netroots Nation next month entitled "Milblogging: How the Troops' Writing Affects Our View of the War." I'll be on the panel too, and it will be moderated by AP reporter Kevin Maurer. If you remember, Kevin covered VetVoice when he worked for the Fayetteville (NC) Observer.

(And just in case you're wondering, LT Nixon is still on active duty and Chris LeJeune was not yet a front-pager when we had to lock in the panel.)

The Army is broken. Literally.

McCain and Obama both provided pieces to TIME Magazine on what patriotism means to them.