The U.S. Military's Assassination Problem: "Software like 'Bugsplat' is supposed to keep decapitation attacks precise. So why do we keep blowing up Iraqi wedding parties?" [more inside]
Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan. "Like Vietnam vets did decades ago, a group of soldiers are poised to speak out about atrocities they say the U.S. committed in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The Man Between War and Peace. "As head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William 'Fox' Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?" [Via Think Progress.]
The Myth of the Surge: "Hoping to turn enemies into allies, U.S. forces are arming Iraqis who fought with the insurgents. But it's already starting to backfire. A report from the front lines of the new Iraq." [Via Devoter.]
Inside the world of war profiteers: From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S.
"My name is Captain Doug MacNair, I coordinate the media embedding program from a desk here in Ottawa... I have embedded more than 250 journalists in our program, and no embed has given me more personal satisfaction than yours... Thanks for being handy with a pencil and a piece of paper. Thanks for writing so well about the things that are hard to draw. Thanks for leaving your family to do an important job. I know how that feels and it’s never easy. Most of all Richard, thanks for risking your life while you do all those things." Q&A with Richard Johnson. Via.
The Pritzker Military Library, a "public institution for the study of the citizen-soldier as an essential element for the preservation of democracy." Found while doing some after-film research on Charlie Wilson's War, the site is a trove of largely non-partisan, often refreshingly candid military perspectives. Particular highlights are video and audio interviews with Jim Lovell and Congressional Medal of Honor winners.
Bush requests $515.4 billion in funds for the defense budget from congress. So what do those numbers mean? The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments states the DoD’s base budget will grow to record (or near-record) levels and will require even greater increases in the coming years. The troops wouldn’t mind the planned pay raises commensurate with the private sector, housing that doesn’t smell like bug powder and mold, and chow that doesn’t turn your stomach. But according to the CSBA’s analysis ( here * caution PDF) , it’s doubtful that even an ideological Bush clone would be able to implement those increases given the economic realities. Some vets blame the silence of the generals. Should everything have changed post 9/11?(*PDF)
Saddam's Confessions - Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator George Piro pretty fascinating.
Frontline Blogger covers war in Iraq with a soldier's eyes. First hand impressions, photos, and reports from a non journalist. A NYT write up.
While it may be old news the US was drawn into the Iraq War under false pretenses, a new report by the Center for Public Integrity documents 935 specific falsehoods in public statements by eight white house officials: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Fleischer and McClellan. [more inside]
As Iraqis See It. "About a year ago, McClatchy Newspapers set up a blog exclusively for contributions from its Iraqi staff. 'Inside Iraq,' it's called, and several times a week the Iraqi staff members post on it about their experiences and impressions. 'It's an opportunity for Iraqis to talk directly to an American audience,' says Leila Fadel, the current bureau chief. As such, the blog fills a major gap in the coverage." Previously discussed here. [Via disinformation.]
War Torn: kickoff of the New York Times' penetrating new series investigating the violence that comes home when our soldiers do.
A new report authored by WHO and Iraqi officials suggests a lower violence-related death count - 151000 - than previous studies, notably that of the Lancet [pdf] where over 650000 were reported to have died. Previously on metafilter. For previous studies, the timing has not been a coincidence.
Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review "reports on how well the world is doing in meeting its commitments for the world’s children. This UNICEF special edition analyses progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in four priority areas for children: promoting healthy lives, providing a quality education, combating HIV and AIDS, and protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence." [more inside]
"Lex has had two tours in Iraq," Jerome Lee said. "He's been through a lot, and we just want to get Lex home to our family and let him have a happy life." It is the first time a working dog has been granted retirement to live with a handler's family. [more inside]
The Losers Cover Gallery showcases the bold design sense and unique art style of UK comics artist Jock, who also produced much of the interior art for the VERTIGO series. Losely based on a WWII comic of the same name it became a fast paced action caper with a political edge under writer Andy Diggle, and the covers reflect both the themes and the cinematic style of the comic.
Blood Brothers: 15 months of combat hell forever change the members of Charlie 1-26. Part 1: To Adhamiya and back. Part 2: ‘I’ve seen enough. I’ve done enough.’ Part 3: ‘Not us. We’re not going.’ Part 4: Picking up the pieces. [Via Danger Room.]
"Hundreds of thousands of Americans have endured tours of duty in Iraq. They are returning home with a new word on their lips. It will have an impact on the American Experiment, inshallah."
Mark Wallinger has won the Turner Prize for 'State Britain' his recreation of Brian Haw's Parliament Square peace protest. [more inside]
The media begins to awaken. Recently, Tom Curley, the President and CEO of Associated Press lashed out at the absurd conditions surrounding the detention of Bilal Hussein. After being detained for over 18 months, the US Military has finally decided to charge him, but nobody can say for what, or when, or why, or what evidence might be brought forth. Strangely, Mr. Curley writes this without a hint of the irony present in being caught in the net of lies, deception and constructed memory hole that the media has participated in the creation of. Playing patsy comes back to bite. AP hosts a timeline of articles.
Walter Wolfgang, 82, was ejected from the Labour Party conference and stopped by police under the Anti-terrorism Act, for heckling Jack Straw. But when he spoke in Oxford... a Barbershop Quintet struck a blow for freedom of speech.
The American military finds new allies, but at what cost? One afternoon, sitting with Captain Brooks in Thrasher’s rooftop gym, I asked if he felt that what he was doing in Iraq was appreciated by the people back home. “Oh, yeah,” he said. Turning to one of his N.C.O.s, who was seated nearby, smoking a cigar, he asked, “What do you think, Sergeant Cochran?” Lowering his voice, Cochran replied, “When that bullet goes by my head, all the politics goes right out the window. My only thought is to get my men out of there alive.” “Thanks for quoting ‘Black Hawk Down,’ Sergeant Cochran,” Brooks drawled. Turning back to me, he said, “When I went home the last time, we went skiing in Colorado. Everywhere we went, people thanked me. One man said, ‘I don’t support the war but I support the soldiers.’ I can accept that. We have a system that allows freedom of speech. Hell, I put on the uniform to defend that.”
A riveting ten-minute interview with playwright and former US Army interrogator Joshua Casteel. He discusses how a particular interrogation with an Iraqi prisoner--and an exchange of views on Islam and Christianity--motivated him to leave the armed forces and become a conscientious objector.
"The neighborhood of Bab al Sheik dates from a time, more than a thousand years ago, when Baghdad ruled the Islamic world... Ten centuries later, Bab al Sheik is less grand, but still extraordinary: it has been spared the sectarian killing that has gutted other neighborhoods, and Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians live together here with unusual ease." A NY Times story (by Sabrina Tavernise and Karim Hilmi) about interesting people in an interesting place. (Print version for them as wants one.)
Coming Home - in honor of Veteran's Day, it might be fitting to check in on the recovery of J.R. Salzman, known here on mefi as Logboy.
Seymour Hersh speaks at third Annual Amnesty International Lecture at Trinity College, Dublin, Oct 24/2007
Seymour Hersh speaks at third Annual Amnesty International Lecture at Trinity College, Dublin, Oct 24/2007. YouTube links 1, 2, 3, 4.
Skip this one if you're sick of posts about Iraq or comment threads containing the word "Heckuva", but what would happen if Mosul's "Saddam Dam" ("Sadd Saddam" in Arabic) collapsed?
it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feetGood, because the US Army Corps of Engineers rates chances of collapse "exceptionally high". Top that, God.
The focus of the current issue of Mother Jones is the Moral Dilemma of Leaving Iraq.
War and Deliverance [Original format] How "an old movie may offer perspective on American attitudes behind the invasion of Iraq." By Christopher Dickey, son of the man who wrote the novel Deliverance.
Wilson et al v. McConnell et al. This site has all the legal documents surrounding Valerie Plame's legal case against the CIA over her new book. CIA censors blacked out 10 percent of the copy, as can seen in this excerpt from the book, and Plame is not allowed to speak freely in her interviews. [Via No Quarter.] [more inside]
Know Thine Enemy. "In a video Op-Ed by documentary filmmakers Molly Bingham and Steve Connors, Iraqis explain the roots of the insurgency." [more inside]
Turkish MPs back attacks in Iraq. [BBC] The vote was taken in defiance of pressure from the US and Iraq, which have called on Turkey for restraint. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the motion does not mean a military operation is imminent. But he said Turkey needed to be able to respond to a recent rise in bomb attacks blamed on PKK rebels from Iraq [Previously]. Also, [SeaTimes] Flourishing Kurdistan raises specter of war. Needless to say, this is giving the Bush Administration a four alarm Turkish headache on two fronts.
Genocide: An inconvenient truth "The Armenian genocide bill has been attacked by both the right and the left -- and it may make matters worse. But it's necessary." [Cookie.]
What Cats Know About War. A reporter adopts cats to reconnect with life amid unremitting death. [Via linkfilter.] [more inside]
Iraq was just the beginning. According to retired General Wesley Clark, a top-secret memo detailed a plan for “taking out” seven countries in five years, ending with Iran. [more inside]
It’s the Oil (Stupid)
“Iraq War Memorial: Death of Prince Harry" features the in fact hale and hearty royal scion "laid out before the Union Jack with pennies placed over his eyes and head rested on the Bible...Prone with his unfired gun still holstered, Prince Harry is represented clutching a bloodied flag of Wales, and holding to his heart a cameo locket of his late mother, Princess Diana, while a desert vulture perches on his boot...a bronze casting of Prince Harry’s 'severed ears' also set for display at the Trafalgar Hotel will be offered on eBay." Via.
Who's soft on terrorism? Surely not the Democrats, who are about to enable the National Security Agency to extend its secret domestic wiretapping program after saying otherwise for months. Surely not the Republican White House, determined to rush out a new Osama bin Laden video even if it burns an intelligence connection spying on Al Qaeda that has been carefully cultivated for years.
The Erosion of a Murder Case Against Marines in the Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians. "Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago. But on Thursday, a senior military investigator recommended dropping murder charges against the ranking enlisted marine accused in the 2005 killings, just as he had done earlier in the cases of two other marines charged in the case. The recommendation may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings of the apparently unarmed men, women and children." [Via The Agonist.]
"Not associated with Blackwater USA." "Blackwater USA is not responsible for this site." "This is an independent site and is not affiliated with Blackwater USA." There's a new trend in the blogosphere, of anonymous people putting significant effort into creating blogs defending military contractor Blackwater USA. Just another bunch of passionate amateur fans showing Old Media how to report a story, or a calculated Astroturf campaign by a well-heeled PR firm? Maybe these guys know.
In the U.S., motorists do not pay their way. The US government spends more on highways and other auto-related expenses than it receives from auto-related taxes, unlike almost every country in Europe. In a recent report [pdf], Mark Delucchi calculates automobile-related costs and revenues in three different ways and concludes the subsidy is around 20-70 cents per gallon or $24-105 billion in 2002. But what are automobile-related costs, you ask? [more inside]
Left of Boom - The struggle to defeat roadside bombs. [washpo - flash & flash video]