Main | December 2004 »

November 29, 2004

Oh, well, OK then

Uber-hawk Charles Krauthammer throws in the towel. Think anyone's told W?

People keep warning about the danger of civil war. This is absurd. There already is a civil war. It is raging before our eyes. Problem is, only one side is fighting it. The other side, the Shiites and the Kurds, are largely watching as their part of the fight is borne primarily by the United States.

Link: A Fight for Shiites (

November 29, 2004 at 05:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Talk about burying the lede

The New York Times just snuck this into the middle of a random story late last week... what the fuck?

American and Iraqi officials say much of the insurgency is being financed by wealthy loyalists to Saddam Hussein who fled to bordering countries before the American-led invasion in March 2003. Many are believed to be helping to organize the insurgency from Syria and Jordan, and funneling millions of dollars to the ground troops of the rebellion.

Link: The New York Times > International > Middle East > The Insurgency: Iraqi Leaders Plan to Meet Insurgents in Jordan.

November 29, 2004 at 05:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How's that tipping point coming

American troops have discovered 32 bodies here in the past two days, the latest sign that insurgents in the north are increasingly focusing their efforts on killing and terrorizing vulnerable Iraqis, especially those working with American forces.

Seventeen bodies were found Friday, after 15 were discovered Thursday, according to a military spokesman here. In the past eight days at least 65 bodies have been found, and one American commander says more than 20 have been confirmed as members of the new Iraqi security forces.

... Many of the bodies found Friday were strewn about a cemetery in western Mosul, said First Lt. Eric Joyce. Some had been shot in the head, and one was decapitated, he said. The bodies appeared to be of men between 25 and 35 years old, Lieutenant Joyce said. Five were shrouded with blankets; four others, all shot in the head, were face down. Most of the bodies were bloated, "so you know they'd been dead for a while," he said. "But a couple were brand-new. You could see the fresh blood."

...The insurgents have settled on a gruesome [strategy] intended to destabilize and terrorize, focusing their efforts against the one thing Americans have counted on as the linchpin of an exit strategy from the country: the new Iraqi security forces.

The insurgents are picking their fights carefully while taking refuge, commanders believe, in places like Old Mosul, an ancient district in the city center. Its narrow, twisting streets and alleyways make it a perfect place for insurgents to stage hit-and-run strikes and then blend in among the district's 500,000 residents, all packed into a single square mile.

Insurgents are abducting Iraqi troops at taxi stands as they return from leave and seek transportation to bases in northern Iraq, the commanders say. And infiltration of the new security forces remains a major concern. Three Iraqi soldiers were recently detained for collaboration with insurgents; one was caught at an illegal checkpoint helping insurgents identify others in his unit.

Many of the bodies found over the past week had been shot in the head, burned, mutilated, decapitated and, according to an American commander, labeled with notes that warn, "This is what happens to Iraqi National Guard soldiers."

Link: The New York Times > International > Middle East > Insurgency: Troops Finding Scores of Bodies of Slain Iraqis.

November 29, 2004 at 04:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 28, 2004

Also illegal during commercials: raiding the fridge, going potty

Do you like fast-forwarding through commercials on a television program you’ve recorded? How much do you like it? Enough to go to jail if you’re caught doing it? If a new copyright and intellectual property omnibus bill sitting on Congress’s desk passes, that may be the choice you'll face.

How can this be possible? Because language that makes fast-forwarding through commercials illegal... was inserted into a bill that would allow people to fast forward past objectionable sections of a recorded movie (and I bet you already thought that was OK). And that’s but one, albeit scary, scenario that may come to pass if the Intellectual Property Protection Act is enacted into law.

Link: Technology Review: Is 'Fair Use' in Peril?.

November 28, 2004 at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why does Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware hate freedom?

From Eric Umansky, an NPR radio interview with Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware:

On the elections: "You can set any Disneyland date you want. It will look like an election, it will sound like an election, but it won't be anything other than a sham."

... "Honestly, I see day by day as we add to the ranks of the insurgency. I've seen civilians atomized before my eyes by the military. That's not meant to be a criticism of the individual soldiers or the military...."

Asked whether there are going to be other Fallujah like situations, he said, "Absolutely. Fallujah was a spectacular act of defiance for the insurgents. But there will be similar acts here, there, everywhere. This doesn't feel like victory for me."

"We are giving the birth to the next generation of jihadists. 9/11 was a pandora's box. Bin Laden was then hoping for a platform to propel the cause...and we gave it to him."

"Insurgents used to say to me, 'I'm fighting to get the U.S. out of Iraq--Iraq for Iraqis.' Now they say, 'I'm fighting for Islam.' We've created the next Bin Laden, Zarqawi. He was a marginal figure before the war, and now, he's actually competing with him for primacy."

Link: Eric Umansky.

November 28, 2004 at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Red states moral values watch

On that long-ago day of Alabama's great shame, Gov. George C. Wallace stood in a schoolhouse door and declared that his state's constitution forbade black students to enroll at the University of Alabama.

He was correct.

If Wallace could be brought back to life today to reprise his 1963 moment of infamy outside Foster Auditorium, he would still be correct. Alabama voters made sure of that Nov. 2, refusing to approve a constitutional amendment to erase segregation-era wording requiring separate schools for "white and colored children" and to eliminate references to the poll taxes once imposed to disenfranchise blacks.

Let's see David Brooks explain that in calm and soothing tones.

Link: Alabama Vote Opens Old Racial Wounds.

November 28, 2004 at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2004

I wonder which one is our President


November 23, 2004 at 11:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The consequences of bad policy

...and the consequences of screwing up Falluja this spring (according to the battlefield commanders), and the consequences of telegraphing our intent to invade before the election but not invading until after the election...

Medics at the Bravo Surgical Company's field hospital, where all the battlefield dead and wounded are brought, said the injuries that troops sustained in the Fallujah fight were unusually devastating, most of them the result of close-range explosions.

"They're just horrific injuries," said Chief Petty Officer Damon Sanders, head of the shock stabilization team. "We saw an increasing amount of shrapnel wounds. Typically there are one or two people who take the brunt of the blast, and the rest of the guys take shrapnel."

Sanders, 36, of Temecula, Calif., said the injuries sustained in Fallujah were more severe than those typically suffered in Iraq, largely because the insurgents had been in control of the city for months and were ready to fight.

"It's when you're waiting, you give the enemy time to set up," he said. "When they're running, they can't do as much."

Marine Lance Cpl. Davi Allen said he saw little action in the first days of the Fallujah offensive. But last week, after the city had mostly been secured, he and his platoon -- part of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment -- were clearing houses in one of the northern neighborhoods that troops swept through at the start of the offensive. After going through about 50 houses, Allen, 21, of Cloverdale, Ore., was looking around the small living room of a residence when he heard gunshots coming from the kitchen.

He looked over and saw a grenade roll into the room. The house's windows had bars on them, and the grenade was too close to the doorway for Allen to make a run for it. He said he had no choice but to ride it out.

"I balled myself in the corner and waited," he said. "It blew up behind me."

Two Marines were injured and one was killed in the attack. Medics brought Allen to Bravo Surgical with 24 pieces of shrapnel in his backside. ...

"When they told us we'd go into Fallujah, many of us thought we'd see gunshot wounds, but not people with limbs already amputated due to the blast," [medic] Ramirez said.

Link: Medics Testify to Fallujah's Horrors.

November 23, 2004 at 10:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good news from David Ignatius

The danger of civil war is clear in recent reports that Iranian-backed assassination teams are targeting Sunni leaders. Iraq's intelligence chief, Mohammed Shahwani, charged on Oct. 14 that the Badr Organization of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) had killed 10 of his agents, and that he had found detailed evidence of the plot in three Iranian safe houses in Baghdad. SCIRI leaders denied the allegation.

Iraqi sources tell me they have independent evidence of an Iranian plan to recruit as many as 3,000 Iraqi Shiites and organize them into hit teams of 10 to 15 people each. These sources also describe an Iranian plan last summer to provide intelligence training in Syria for some leading members of the anti-American Mahdi Army of Moqtada Sadr. "The rationale for the Iranians is that the Sunnis must never get control of Iraq again," an Iraqi source tells me.

The Sunnis have embraced this dirty war. The insurgency has been conducting a vicious assassination campaign of its own against the Iraqi government, military and police. Most of the victims are Shiites.

Link: Dangers Of the '80 Percent Solution' (

November 23, 2004 at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2004

I wonder which one is our President


November 22, 2004 at 08:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack