By KEVIN DIAZ, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON -- Amid raucous debate in Congress about an exit strategy from Iraq, U.S. commanders on the ground have already launched plans to close bases and withdraw troops in the coming year, according to two congressmen who returned from Iraq this week.
"They wouldn't put a hard date on it, but clearly the planning is at a very mature level," Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said. "We can shrink down the number of bases as we shrink down the number of Americans."
Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., who was with Kline in Iraq, said that in some places the turnover is already in progress. "They have a planned turnover process where American troops have already pulled back from some of the smaller bases."
By Sami al-Jumaili, Reuters
Mahmoudiya, Iraq - A suicide car bomber attacked a hospital south of Baghdad on Thursday, killing 31 people and wounding two dozen more as militants stepped up their campaign of violence ahead of elections next month.
The explosives-packed car detonated as Iraqi security forces were gathered outside Mahmoudiya General Hospital and as a group of US civil affairs soldiers was visiting to look at ways to improve the facility, the US army and witnesses said.
Four US troops were wounded in the blast, but most of those killed and injured were civilians, including Hoda Ali Mahmoud, a 30-year-old woman who had just visited the hospital with her young son, who needed treatment for a cold.
By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press
CRAWFORD, Texas - The mother of a fallen soldier whose vigil against the war in Iraq outside President Bush's ranch returned to Texas, saying she is "heartbroken" that the troops are not home.
When Cindy Sheehan arrived at the Waco airport Thursday, three dozen supporters erupted into cheers and tears and grabbed her for lengthy embraces. Before they whisked her back to Crawford, the group chanted, "Stop the war! Bring them home now!"
"I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan, who hoped to arrive earlier in the week, but was delayed by a family emergency. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."
By Sari Gelzer, t r u t h o u t | Report
Days after Iraqi leaders called for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Senator Russell Feingold and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed the importance of declaring a timetable for the US exit from Iraq.
In a letter written yesterday, Feingold urged President Bush to declare a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and suggested the State of the Union address as an important chance to raise the issue.
After Congressman John P. Murtha's recent appeal to withdraw from Iraq in six months, Feingold appealed to Bush by saying that although the plan "need not be rigid," it must be declared for the sake of national security.
By Richard Falk, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
The American debate on the Iraq War has entered a dramatic new phase. For the first time, a prominent Democrat, Congressman John Murtha, has called for a withdrawal of American forces from the country. Murtha's words have had a major impact because he was a former supporter of the war, and has had a career distinguished by his consistently pro-military profile. His argument is based on the inability to complete the American military mission in Iraq, making inexcusable the continued killing and loss of life. He also refers to the adverse effects of the unpopular and flawed occupation of Iraq on the wider goals of opposing global terrorism and to the failure of American reconstruction efforts. Murtha's critique is widely shared by a majority of Americans at this point, and helps explain the declining popularity of the Bush presidency.
By Paul Tait, Reuters
Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms shot dead an aging Sunni tribal leader and three of his sons in their beds on Wednesday, relatives said, in the latest attack to highlight Iraq's deep sectarian rifts ahead of a December poll.
A Defense Ministry official denied Iraqi troops carried out the pre-dawn slayings in the Hurriya district of Baghdad and said the killers instead must have been terrorists in disguise.
"Iraqi army uniforms litter the streets and any terrorist can kill and tarnish our image, killing two birds with one stone," the official said.
By Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian UK
The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Tony Blair and George Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq.
It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way. Though it has obtained court injunctions against newspapers, the government has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents, including highly sensitive ones about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
By Dave Lindorff, http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/
Troop Cuts After 12/15? What a Line of Bull! It's Stealth Escalation
The Pentagon can only get away with calling the idea of cutting back the level of troops in Iraq from the current 155,000 to "just" 138,000 because of the total lack of historical context that prevails in today's mainstream newsrooms.
138,000 was the level of troops the US had in Iraq until a few months ago, when the level of attacks on them rose to such an extent that the Pentagon decided it had to add troops, using the looming Dec. 15 elections as a pretext. At that time, they said the increase was temporary, and that the level would be brought back down after the elections were over.
Story Update: Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh has agreed to cover the full costs of the surgery.
By Sally Kalson, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
One question stands between a 7-year-old Iraqi war victim and reconstructive surgery in Pittsburgh that could bring him a more normal life: How can his sponsors raise their half of the hospital bill when there's no way of knowing how high that bill will run?
The child, Abdul Hakim Ismael, was wounded last year in the city of Fallujah. His family said he was hit by fire from an American air strike, leaving the left side of his face severely disfigured - blinded in one eye with damaged eye lid, socket, jaw and cheek, making it difficult for him to eat.
By Peter Popham and Anne Penketh
The Independent UK
The Italian journalist who launched the controversy over the American use of white phosphorus (WP) as a weapon of war in the Fallujah siege has accused the Americans of hypocrisy.
Sigfrido Ranucci, who made the documentary for the RAI television channel aired two weeks ago, said that a US intelligence assessment had characterised WP after the first Gulf War as a "chemical weapon."
The assessment was published in a declassified report on the American Department of Defense website. The file was headed: "Possible use of phosphorous chemical weapons by Iraq in Kurdish areas along the Iraqi-Turkish-Iranian borders."
A cross-party motion has now been tabled in Parliament to set up a Select Committee to investigate the conduct of the Government's policy in going to war in Iraq.
The names appearing on the Early Day Motion include Alan Simpson (Labour), Kenneth Clarke and Douglas Hogg (Conservatives), Menzies Campbell (Liberal Democrats), Alex Salmond (SNP) and Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru).
Speaking at Westminster Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, who drafted the motion, said:
"Too many questions remain unanswered about the way we were taken to war in Iraq, and we demand to have them answered. Neither the Hutton nor the Butler Inquiries addressed the central question - were the Parliament and country misled? Therefore it is essential that a committee is set up to investigate the matter thoroughly. If we do not restore proper accountability to the Government, it will corrupt our whole society by providing evidence that allows our enemies to call our democracy a sham."
By Cindy Sheehan
My family is spending our 2nd Thanksgiving without Casey thanks to you and your lies. I am spending the day crying on a plane on my way to come to Crawford to again ask you for a meeting.
I had been to Crawford for three weeks in the summer and to DC several times asking for a meeting with you and now I am returning to our vacation home to once again try and meet with you. I don't know why you like Crawford so much, but I love it because of the Camp Casey Peace Community that arose during August this year when you wouldn't meet with me. When I arrived back here at the Peace House I felt a sense of coming home and belonging to something that is far greater than any of us: a community that is filled with love, acceptance and peace. Is this what you feel when you return frequently to Crawford? Also, the beautiful Texas sunset stirred memories of our days at Camp Casey when we would close our activities each day with ex-Marine, Jeff Key playing taps among the crosses that honored our fallen. August was a miraculous time.
Even Lebanon was not as terrifying as the random menace of occupied Iraq. But the violence could be brought under control
By Zaki Chehab, Guardian
The rate of suicide bombings in Iraq continues its relentless rise: some days there are more than five attacks. Jihadist leaders are taking full advantage of the anger and despair of the many Iraqis who have lost family members at the hands of the occupation. The recruiters convince them that taking revenge is the way to please God and to defeat the infidels. Breaking the insurgency has became a mission impossible for the US throughout Iraq - but most of all in Anbar province (known in the west as the Sunni triangle), which accounts for about a third of the country.
By D. Lindley Young, The Modern Tribune
WASHINGTON, D.C. (11/25) - The Bush administration has put America in a no win situation in Iraq. America cannot just precipitously leave Iraq since we undertook to fix the nation and have created much chaos and turmoil. Nor, can we just keep feeding American lives and money to fight an insurgency or take sides in a civil war. This is especially true since, at best, the Iraq war is for a very questionable cause. Although conducted under the banner of freedom and democracy, few would disagree that we would not be in Iraq if Iraq did not have oil and Iraq did not serve as a strategical military base for greater Middle East influence. Aside from questions about the reasons for the war, many experts believe that the Iraq war is creating greater global hatred for America and is endangering America, not making America safer.
Freedom of Information logs shed light on media's military curiosity
John Byrne, Raw Story
A listing of all requests made of the Pentagon under the Freedom of Information Act since 2000, acquired by RAW STORY, provides new insight into the aggressiveness of American news agencies.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the public can request records of government agencies. Records seen as jeopardizing national security or individual rights are typically exempted. All requests are public.
The request for a list of all who made inquiries of the Pentagon was filed by Michael Petrelis (http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/, a San Francisco-based activist and blogger. He provided a copy to RAW STORY, which will be released in full next week.
Allies warn US over CIA's secret jails
Thursday 24 November 2005, 19:41 Makka Time, 16:41 GMT
Poland said it was checking reports of the CIA jails
The Netherlands has warned Washington that if it continued to "hide" over reports of secret prisons in eastern Europe, Dutch contributions to US-led military missions could be affected, the ANP news agency has reported.
"The US should stop hiding. It will all come out sooner or later," Foreign Minister Ben Bot told the Dutch parliament, according to ANP.
Bot added that the Americans "are on the borderline" in their fight against terrorism. The minister would not say at what point the Netherlands might end their cooperation with the US.
Sheriff's Department Claims County Ordinance Supersedes US Constitution
Calls the First Amendment a "Word Game"
Defends Arrest of 12 Peaceful Protesters
By Sam Diener for Peacework Magazine, www.afsc.org/peacework
Paul Wash, spokesperson for the McLennan County Sheriff's Department, when discussing the arrest of a dozen Camp Casey anti-war protesters on Wednesday, November 23rd near Bush's compound in Crawford, Texas, claimed that a recently passed county ordinance was more important to the department than the Federal Constitution and the First Amendment.
He said, "Twelve people were arrested for criminal trespass under the new county ordinance which bans camping in the right of way."
By Ray McGovern
The surprising degree of consensus reached by the main Iraqi factions at the Arab-League orchestrated Reconciliation Conference in Cairo last weekend sharply undercuts the unilateral, guns-and-puppets approach of the Bush administration to the deteriorating situation in Iraq. The common demand, by Shia and Kurds as well as Sunnis, for a timetable for withdrawal of occupation forces demolishes the administration’s argument that setting such a timetable would be a huge mistake. Who would know better—the Iraqis or the ideologues advising Bush?
Withdrawal of Occupation Forces
By Cindy Sheehan
It was hard to feel blessed today as I sat at Casey's grave here in Vacaville, Ca. Sure, a lot of good things have happened in my sphere of influence this year, but the blessings are always hampered by the reason for the blessings.
If Casey had not have been killed in Iraq in George's imperialistic war for power and wealth, I wouldn't be on this path. I wish to God, I weren't on this path. But I am, so here are the blessings I am thankful for this year.
The main blessings that I can thankfully still count are my 3 children: Carly, Andy, and Janey. They are incredibly wonderful children who didn't ask for the trail that George Bush has set them on by the murder of their oldest brother. They didn't ask to have a mom who is away most of the time trying to make the world a better place to leave for them. They didn't ask for it, but they are handling everything with the courage and integrity that are the hallmarks of Sheehan children.
A Fractured Anti-War Movement
By JOHN WALSH, CounterPunch
The polls leave no doubt that the sentiment against the war in the U.S. is overwhelming. Fully 60% of Americans want some or all troops withdrawn from Iraq at once; military recruitment is down and it is clear to all but the most hidebound Bush loyalists that the country was lied into war. And yet the war goes on with little sign that top Republicans or Democrats are feeling sufficient heat to call it quits. Many Dems are willing to say Bush lied, but aside from Teddy Kennedy, no major figure in either party is willing to call for immediate and total withdrawal ? as opposed to exit strategies, exit discussions, etc. The Dems like the Republicans are for "staying the course."
By Margaret Kimberly, the BlackCommentator.com
The American corporate media is comprised of political operatives for the Bush administration. They have been there all along, but it is the judicial process, not their colleagues, that has brought their brazen behavior out into the open for all to see.
The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward is the most recent example of a reporter who has turned out to be nothing more than a Bush spokesman. Woodward made a name for himself on the Watergate story more than 30 years ago. His reputation as the crusading, hard-hitting journalist may have been deserved in the 1970s but Woodward profited from that image years later than he should have. Despite years of being a Washington insider who long ago lost his journalistic truth seeking inclinations, Woodward’s name still gave him credibility.
By the BlackCommentator.com
Only three Democrats voted on the issue of the Iraq war, last Friday. The rest followed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s directives, a continuation of her "strategy" of insulating the pro-war wing of the party, centered in the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), from the wrath of the party’s base, which is now overwhelmingly anti-war. For the DLC’s sake, Pelosi smothers the party’s progressive wing - of which she was once a proud member. Thus, the San Francisco congresswoman maintains the fiction of a united House Democratic front, to disguise the flaccid reality: the pro-war faction has veto power over Democratic Iraq policy - a veto exercised by Pelosi, herself.
Pro-GOP Democrats leaving
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Republicans in the U.S. House are losing Democrats who used to support their bills as the 2006 midterm elections loom.
The Christian Science Monitor reports on the recent big votes on such issues as energy and the budget reconciliation bill, Republicans did not get a single Democratic vote. But as recently as last spring, 73 Democrats had backed a bankruptcy bill despite their leader Nancy Pelosi's warning it would create "modern-day indentured servants," the report said. On another measure, 50 Democrats supported GOP efforts to reform class-action lawsuits.
Report: Dissenting View on WMD Coverage at 'NY Times'
By E&P Staff, Editor and Publisher.com
Published: November 23, 2005 10:45 AM ET
NEW YORK A lengthy report by Gabriel Sherman in this week's New York Observer offers several revelations, and criticism from unnamed sources, concerning that crucial period at The New York Times in 2002 when the newspaper advanced flawed information about WMD in Iraq.
As the piece points out, Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., speaking on the Charley Rose Show this month, described this as the “overheated period that followed 9/11,
WASHINGTON | Rep. Jean Schmidt says her comments Friday on the floor of the U.S. House have been misinterpreted and that she has been made a scapegoat by a media disappointed that Congress didn't vote to withdraw troops from Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Ohio state representative whom Schmidt quoted in the speech has issued a statement saying he was misquoted.
Sen. Clinton says immediate withdrawal would be mistake
By JIM FITZGERALD
Associated Press Writer
November 21, 2005, 6:11 PM EST
RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be "a big mistake."
While professing "the greatest respect" for Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, the ex-Marine who called for a troop pullout last week, Clinton said, "I think that would cause more problems for us in America."
On the other hand, she said, the administration's pledge to stay in Iraq "until the job is done" amounts to giving the Iraqis "an open-ended invitation not to take care of themselves."
Iraqi detainees tell of torture
By Caroline Hawley
BBC News, Baghdad
Detainees told of beatings and being given electric shocks
Prisoners at an Iraqi detention centre opened up to journalists have told the BBC of widespread abuse.
One man said he had been whipped with a cable and then had salt rubbed in the wound, while another said his captors had tried to pull out his toenails.
The BBC was also shown inside a Baghdad bunker at the centre of a scandal over detainee abuse by Iraqi forces.
More than 170 prisoners were found there last week, showing signs of malnourishment and torture.
White House 'double-crossed' Blair, says Plame husband
Tony Blair was "doubled crossed" by US President George W Bush's aides in the run-up to the Iraq war, according to the former diplomat at the centre of a political crisis engulfing the White House.
Tony Blair 'thought it was a disarmament campaign'
Joe Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent who was allegedly 'outed' by senior administration figures, made the claim in an interview for the BBC.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Wilson said: "I watched the way that the British built their case, and it was a disarmament case as best I could see it.
By Tim Grieve for Salon.com:
The Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily briefing is the stuff of legend, but we haven't heard so much about the Sept. 21, 2001, PDB. That may change soon. Reporting in the National Journal,
Murray Waas says George W. Bush was told in the Sept. 21 PDB that the
U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to
the attacks of 9/11.
As Richard Clarke
recounts in his book, Bush asked his aides on Sept. 12, 2001, "to go
back over everything, everything," to see if Saddam Hussein was linked
in any way to the attacks. "But, Mr. President," Clarke said, "al-Qaida
did this." Clarke says that Bush responded by saying, "I know, I know,
but ... see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any
From Tomdispatch at the cusp of Thanksgiving, Jonathan Schell, "The Fall of the One-Party Empire" http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=39141
, his latest "Letter from Ground Zero" for the Nation magazine (exclusively on-line from Tomdispatch) and one of his best. He takes us on a tour of the neocon global Pax Americana that never was, asking a simple question: Where exactly are the monuments of that empire? If it is now threatened with collapse, what exactly did it build?
This is a classic piece -- and if you don't get to it until after Thanksgiving, it doesn't matter at all. It's not time bound. Please note that, in response to Schell's question, I've written a little whirl of a tour through the monuments of that "empire" from Camp Victory North in Iraq and sunny Guantanamo to Afghanistan's "Salt Pit" and the ruined city of Fallujah (with a quick stop at the Pentagon's Bavarian R&R eden, the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort). Check out "American Ziggurats, Imperial Ruins, and Other Wonders of the Modern Age" which follows the Schell and might makes a good companion piece to it.