AFP reports the US military is defending its use of Willy Pete (White Phosphorus) during "shake and bake" missions in Fallujah last November. "'It's part of our conventional weapons inventory. We use it like we use any other conventional weapon,' said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. Whitman said he had no knowledge of any civilian victims of attacks with white phosphorus.
'We don't target any civilians with any of our weapons, and to suggest US forces were targeting civilians with these weapons would be wrong,' he said."
Yeah, right, seizing the main hospital wasn't targeting civilans either. In any case, how could they tell who this stuff was falling on when they were using it? Its been pretty well established in this war that telling civilans apart from insurgents is a little difficult.
But enough of that bleeding heart stuff, on to the battle of Hue!
"A report on the battle of Fallujah published in April in the army journal Field Artillery said white phosphorous "proved to be an effective and versatile munition" in Fallujah.
'We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE (high explosives),' said the report."
Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable, another Pentagon spokesman, "It has been used in armies the world over for most the past century, I believe." Yeah, the Nazis probably used it too, so what's the big deal?
Slow poke to China:
W. is off to the Far East, where he will no doubt hope to escape the crumbling masonry of his administration crashing down on his head. China might not be far enough away, though, to get away from the consequences of his serial bungling. He did get off a parting shot at his Democratic detractors, however, on a fueling stop in Alaska---in front of a captive audience of soldiers---where he accused Democrats of giving mixed signals to our troops and the insurgents. That's rich, pull out the old 'my critics are giving the enemy aid and comfort,' bugaboo instead of actually answering the criticism that he fabricated and distorted pre-war intelligence, which is finding a lot of traction with a majority of Americans these days. He repeated the assertion that Democrats who voted for the war are now "rewriting history" and he's frankly shocked---shocked!---that they would play politics with the war in Iraq. (Lord knows Karl Rove has never used the war on terrorism as a political baseball bat to beat the Democrats with!)
The right wing pundits have apparently been given their talking points, because I've heard this claim that the Democrats who spoke "truth" then are "speaking politics now." Scott McClellan got the ball rolling last Sunday saying both Republicans and Democrats, including those in the Clinton administration,” came to the conclusion, that Saddam Hussein was a threat and a threat that needed to be addressed." It's funny that an administration that was so hell bent on wiping any evidence of the Clinton administration off the map---going so far as to immediately yank the DC "taxation without representation" license plate off the presidential limo---are now constantly invoking his name in their desperate attempts to save their asses. Before he was "Slick Willy, "a liar who couldn't be trusted with your teenage daughter, now all of a sudden, he's up there with W. in the great pantheon of terror fighters.
The claim that Clinton saw Saddam as a threat that needed to be dealt with was furthered by Rummy who joined the fight by quoting Sandy Berger's warning of Saddam's intention to use WMD if he was given a chance, out of context, and citing the fact that Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, but failed to mention that Bubba was basically forced into it by Republican pressure during the Lewinsky scandal and never had any intention of following through. The Clinton administration policy was containment always, never a violent overthrow of Saddam's regime. And I do seem to remember that when the inspectors "were forced out" and the US bombed Baghdad, the right wingers all accused Clinton of the tail wagging the dog, trying to distract the public's attention away from his very serious blow job problems. (Can't have it both ways guys.)
Anyway, if congress in 2002 hadn't had to rely on that shoddy production Bush & Co. called a National Security Estimate, which consisted of faulty conclusions and information partly provided by drunks and liars masquerading as Iraqi "defectors," perhaps they would have asked more questions instead of willingly swallowing their tripe and then asking for seconds. It didn't help that most polities in congress are by nature spineless weasels and were played like a Stradivarius by the Chalabi/Miller echo chamber orchestrated from the bowels of Cheney's bat cave to perfect effect. I do recall seeing some brave Democrats standing on the steps of congress with hundreds of bags of mail written by their constituents pleading with them not to allow this illegal war, but the media hardly noticed.
Lucky W. is out of town, because the Senate voted 79-19 to require the administration to give three month updates on what they're doing to get us out of Iraq and that 2006 should be, "a period of significant transition to Iraqi sovereignty." The Republicans just rewrote the Democratic bill and took out the part about a timetable, which Dan Bartlett spun into a positive. (These guys really have no shame!) Lindsay Graham said, "We want to get into the ball game, we're off the sidelines." Well, better late than never (About 2,070 dead too late), I guess, but it would have been nice if instead of waiting for public support to go south they had exercised the traditional "role of the Congress in war time," before the war had started. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel called for Bush to start drawing down troops levels next year. And as for Rummy and the right wing smear campaign, "Each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and elsewhere and should not be demonized or condemned for disagreeing with," the administration. Yeah, right on!
Along with this provision added into the Defense appropriation bill Lindsay Graham's Habeas Corpus stripping rule was toned down, now allowing detainees to challenge their "enemy combatant" status and appeal any ruling in the so-called military tribunals. McCain's ban against cruel and inhuman treatment is also included, all of which has to be hashed out in conference, which will be interesting considering that Bush has said he will veto the entire Defense spending bill if these items are included. How afraid of voter backlash over the war Congress is should drive the debate, I would think. The dream scenario is; all these provisions are kept in and W.'s veto is overturned. (Will never happen.)
The Israeli Captain R., who shot a 13 year old Palestinian girl 15 times in the face, has been cleared of all charges by a military court in the Oct. 5, 2004 incident near Rafah. The BBC reports,"The army says it accepts the commander's claim that he fired into the ground near the girl after coming under fire in a dangerous area. It has not explained why the officer shot into the ground rather than at the source of the fire."
Well, if nothing else he should be cashiered for being a terrible shot. How do you manage to empty your magazine into a girl's face and claim you didn't mean to do it?
In Bush administration scandal news:
Former CPB chairman Kenneth Tomlinson violated the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 according to CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz. AP says, "There was evidence the report said to suggest that "political tests" or qualifications were used as a major factor in the hiring of the new CPB president Patricia S. Harrison, in violation of federal rules...The report also faulted Tomlinson for hiring a consultant to review program content on PBS shows such as Now With Bill Moyers. Konz said Tomlinson did not obtain proper authorization from the board for the consultant's $20,000 contract. The consultant kept track of whether guests on the shows were "anti- or pro-Bush" and "anti- or pro-Tom DeLay," the report said." (Why does every sctechy political maneuver always have DeLay's name attached to it?)
Unfortunatly, breaking this law doesn't bring any criminal penalties. If he had been still working for the CPB he could have been sanctioned, but in this instance he gets off scott free.
While the Senate is calling for the US to hurry up and train Iraqi military and police forces, news is out that US troops of the Third Infantry Division found by accident 173 Iraq detainees who had been malnourished and tortured in an Iraqi detention facility in the Jadriyah section of the capital. [AP] Surprisingly, all the prisoners appeared to be Sunnis and their captures, members of the Badr Brigade. This follows the news that the Wolf Brigade, another Shiite militia, has been busy rounding up hundreds of "suspects," also Sunnis, in the northeast province of Diyala.
In any case, the Interior Ministry's undersecretary of security, Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, told Reuters: "They were being abused. This is totally unacceptable treatment. I saw signs of physical abuse by brutal beating, one or two detainees were paralyzed, and some had skin peeling off various parts of their bodies. I've never seen a situation like this during the past two years in Baghdad. This is the worst." No doubt this won’t be the last. If the US soldiers hadn't been following up on a missing 15 year old, they never would have found them and they would have most likely followed their predecessors into ditches around town with their hands bound and bullets in the back of their heads.
Have no fear, PM Ibrahim Jaafari vows to lanch a thourough investigation. A deputy PM has been put in charge of looking into this incident and a wider inquiry into prisons condition will be led by "ministers and other figure," Jafaari. Wow, don't you feel better now? I hope none of those ministers are associated with Sciri, because besides being a large part of the government also happen to be the political wing of the Badr brigade.
The real question is how much pressure the US is going to put on the Iraqis to clean up their act. I'm going to guess, not too much. We've spent all this time arming these thugs and pushing them to take charge, we're not about to start arresting their commanders who are up to their ears in torture and extra judicial killings.
[See this blog for info on what are now militias but will be later called 'freedom fighters.}