More Isolated Incidents

From the pacified Far East:

    Soldier accused of stabbing S. Korean civilian

    By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes

    YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — At least three U.S. soldiers are under U.S. “control” and five others are being investigated in connection with a series of incidents this weekend in South Korea.

    In the most serious case, a 17th Aviation Brigade soldier stationed at Camp Humphreys has been accused of stabbing a South Korean civilian. The soldier will be questioned by South Korean police later this week, officials said.

    An 8th Army spokesman confirmed Monday the accused is being held by U.S. military authorities but declined to release the soldier’s name, saying official charges had not yet been filed in the case. South Korean police say they are investigating four other U.S. soldiers and a KATUSA (Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army) in connection with the alleged stabbing, which they said occurred early Saturday morning on a Seoul street.

    The victim remains in a local hospital with serious but nonlife-threatening injuries, South Korean officials said. Officials from 8th Army released a statement offering an apology and promising full cooperation in the investigation.

    In a separate incident, South Korean police said they arrested two U.S. soldiers in Uijongbu about midnight Saturday after an altercation with a taxi driver. The soldiers were handed over to U.S. military police, 8th Army officials said, and likely will be questioned by South Korean police later this week.

    In a third incident, Uijongbu police said a 2nd Infantry Division soldier was arrested about 3:30 a.m. Sunday and accused of stealing two purses containing about $1,000 from a karaoke parlor. Police officials said they handed over the soldier to U.S. authorities and likely would call him back for questioning later this week. U.S. officials said they had not yet received a report on the incident.

    “As always, we continue to educate our soldiers on proper behavior and respect when interacting with our ROK hosts and neighbors,” read the 8th Army statement released after the alleged stabbing incident, “to ensure our servicemembers are respectful and sincere guests of our hosts.”

I just don’t understand why Iraqis don’t want us in their backyard. Now here’s a fraternity prank: Continue reading “More Isolated Incidents”

Sistani Speaks

Looks like someone shot his house in Najaf up. So, I guess I can claim to be right.

Al-Sistani, whose office in Najaf came under fire in overnight fighting, urged Iraqis not to travel to the city to join in protests. It was not clear where the gunfire came from and no one was injured.

Al-Sadr had called for peaceful demonstrations against incursions and damage to mosques and shrines in recent fighting, allegedly by American troops. The U.S. military says militiamen have used some Muslim holy places as firing positions and weapons-storage sites.

“The office of Seyed al-Sistani directs all citizens not to go to the holy city of Najaf at the moment,” the statement said, using the title for a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

It said peaceful demonstrations could be held at mosques in city centers to “protest the violation over these holy cities and the houses of the grand ayatollahs. Participants could demand the removal of all armed groups from these two cities and let the police and tribesmen play [a] role in maintaining peace and order.”

The AP article says Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric today demanded that all armed groups withdraw from the embattled holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, where nine militiamen loyal to a rebel cleric were killed in heavy fighting with U.S. forces,” but doesn’t give a translation of his full statement.

Chalabi & Co. Off Pentagon Payroll

Well, well, well. Finally Chalabi’s umbilical cord to the Pentagon is cut. Richard Oppel writes in the New York Times:

The United States government has decided to halt monthly $335,000 payments to the Iraqi National Congress, the group headed by Ahmad Chalabi, an official with the group said on Monday.

Mr. Chalabi, a longtime exile leader and now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, played a crucial role in persuading the administration that Saddam Hussein had to be removed from power. But he has since become a lightning rod for critics of the Bush administration, who say the United States relied on him too heavily for prewar intelligence that has since proved faulty.

Mr. Chalabi’s group has received at least $27 million in United States financing in the past four years, the Iraqi National Congress official said. This includes $335,000 a month as part of a classified program through the Defense Intelligence Agency, since the summer of 2002, to help gather intelligence in Iraq. The official said his group had been told that financing will cease June 30, when occupation authorities are scheduled to turn over sovereignty to Iraqis.

Internal reviews by the United States government have found that much of the information provided as part of the classified program before American forces invaded Iraq last year was useless, misleading or even fabricated.(ed: Emphasis mine.)

Could this be the result of what Juan Cole points out today was a significant statement by Secretary of State Colin Powell in an interview on Meet the Press from Jordan:

By now most persons with a television and an interest in US affairs will have seen the bizarre scene in which Deputy Press Secretary Emily Miller, an aide to Colin Powell, attempted to pull him off camera and stop him from answering a question put by Tim Russert of Meet the Press. What is bizarre is that she actually tried to lie to Powell and convince him that Russert had finished the interview. If I were Powell, I’d try to find out for whom she is really working. When Powell told her to get out of the way and came back on camera, he made a startling admission, in bold, below.

MR. RUSSERT: Thank you very much, sir.

In February of 2003, you put your enormous personal reputation on the line before the United Nations and said that you had solid sources for the case against Saddam Hussein. It now appears that an agent called “Curve Ball” had misled the CIA by suggesting that Saddam had trucks and trains that were delivering biological chemical weapons.

How concerned are you that some of the information you shared with the world is now inaccurate and discredited?

SECRETARY POWELL: I’m very concerned. When I made that presentation in February 2003, it was based on the best information that the Central Intelligence Agency made available to me. We studied it carefully. We looked at the sourcing and the case of the mobile trucks and trains. There was multiple sourcing for that. Unfortunately, that multiple sourcing over time has turned out to be not accurate, and so I’m deeply disappointed.

But I’m also comfortable that at the time that I made the presentation it reflected the collective judgment, the sound judgment, of the intelligence community, but it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I’m disappointed, and I regret it.

Powell for the first time has gone beyond admitting that the intel on Iraq WMD was inaccurate to calling some of it deliberately misleading. If it was deliberately misleading, however, that implies that someone deliberately misled. That is, there are human actors with intentions. If a government official deliberately misled Powell on this matter, that is clearly a crime that should be prosecuted.

So, will the other shoe now drop? Is Powell laying the groundwork for an impeachment of Douglas Feith or Paul Wolfowitz?

It may well have at least jarred Chalabi loose. After his statement yesterday blaming the assassination of IGC puppet president Saleem on Fallujah, an implicit criticism of the American policy of turning the town back to the rebels and some Baathist generals and retreating, it would seem that Chalabi is now off the reservation and openly disagreeing with his former patrons. Of course the money should have been cut off long ago, well before the “Heroes in Error” statement when Chalabi crowed publicly about how his lies helped the Bush Administration build their fraudulent case for war and surely after the “Curveball” story (which was the basis for Colin Powell’s “Winnebagoes of Death” section of his humiliating presentation to the UN Security Council) came to light. As for the well-deserved demise of Feith and Wolfowitz, we can continue to hope that they receive their comeuppance also, but considering how reluctant the Bushistas are to do the right thing, it will probably require the further unravelling of the multitudes of scandals (torturing Iraqis, Plame, etc.) currently embroiling the neocons.

WMD Thrill for WarBots

rumsfeld-saddam“WMDs at last?” asks warbot site The Command Post hopefully. Fox News (surprise! I bet you didn’t see that one coming….) is reporting that one entire shell might have had……sarin gas in it! WOO Hoo! See, America was imminently threatened, you anti-war doubters!!

Oh, the shell was rigged as an IED (aka roadside bomb) and exploded releasing “a small amount of agent” according to General “Change the Channel” Kimmitt. No mass destruction occurred, for which we can all be grateful, and apparently the danger of the “agent” floating from Iraq to the US is minimal.

Before all you warfloggers out there get all excited about this “WMD” it might be helpful to know what WMD is:

Chemical weapons, which are not WMD, are blistering, choking, or toxic agents. Mustard gas possessed by Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt and other nations is World War I technology. Horrible as they are, these are strictly battlefield weapons, requiring large, clumsy holding tanks, and depend on favourable winds. Winston Churchill authorized using poison gas against “primitive tribesmen” – Kurds in Iraq and Afghans – when he was British home secretary. Benito Mussolini’s Italy used mustard gas in Ethiopia and Libya.

Choking gas, like chlorine, is also a tactical battlefield agent. French troops without gas masks defending a 4-km front at Verdun in 1916 were hit by 60,000 chlorine gas shells, yet held their lines. So did Canadian troops in Flanders, also without masks, who heroically fought off superior German forces.

World War II vintage

Nerve gases, like Sarin and VX, are World War II vintage. Though deadly, they, too, are tactical agents designed for area denial and neutralizing high value targets. Using nerve gas requires specialized vehicles or aircraft with highly complex dispensing systems. Gas is dependent on temperature, humidity and wind. The Soviets tried various nerve agents in Afghanistan, but found them ineffective and dangerous to their own troops.

Nerve agents would be extremely lethal if released by terrorists in a large building, mall or airport but, again, they are weapons of localized destruction, not mass destruction. In 1995, a Japanese cult released nerve gas in Tokyo’s subway, killing 12 people.

Nerve gas was not used during WW II because of its unreliability and lack of wide area lethality. Many gases are unstable and have limited shelf lives. Iraq and Iran used poison gas during the 1980-88 Gulf War – killing or maiming many soldiers but achieving no strategic breakthroughs.

So, who in the region of the Middle East actually possesses real Weapons of Mass Destruction? Ask Mordechai Vanunu.

UPDATE BBC: However, a senior coalition source has told the BBC the round does not signal the discovery of weapons of mass destruction or the escalation of insurgent activity.

He said the round dated back to the Iran-Iraq war and coalition officials were not sure whether the fighters even knew what it contained.

via The LeftCoaster

UPDATE: Rumsfeld ruins millions of wargasms in progress.

Like this one, for example.

IGC Pres. Killed in Iraq Car Bomb


A suicide car bomb exploded next to the car of Abdel-Zahraa Othman, a Shia Muslim widely known as Izzadine Saleem, as he waited to clear a US checkpoint outside the Green Zone.

Mr Saleem had been in a convoy of five vehicles when an adjacent car exploded, Mohammed Laith, a witness, said. There was no immediate official confirmation from the council but the witness said that Mr Saleem, his driver and assistant were among those killed.

Six Iraqis and two US soldiers were also injured in the bombing outside the coalition’s compound, which is known as the green zone, US Army Colonel Mike Murray said.

Smoke rose from the site of the blast, on the west side of the Tigris river, as firefighters and around 10 ambulances attended the scene.

Mr Saleem, a writer, philosopher and political activist, served as editor of several newspapers and magazines. He was the leader of the Islamic Dawa movement in the southern city of Basra, and was one of 25 council members to have held the organisation’s rotating presidency.

Ahmed Chalabi, who you will undoubtedly be relieved to know was apparently not anywhere near the explosion, lost no time in blaming the attack on Sunni Arabs in Fallujah:

”We, the allies of U.S., are hampered by law from protecting ourselves, but the terrorists are free to roam around and they have been given sanctuary in Fallujah,” Ahmad Chalabi said hours after the suicide bombing that killed Saleem, also known as Abdel-Zahraa Othman.

”The garage is open and car bombs are coming repeatedly,” he said.

”We are all now threatened, and I believe that drastic action must be taken by Iraqis,” he said without elaborating.

Chalabi didn’t say exactly what “action” Iraqis must take.