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There are so many problems with the Iraqi military troop situation that any belief that we can somehow rely on growing Iraqi troop strength to draw down our own forces is either:

A. a self-induced, delusional fantasy for those choosing to believe it (hello Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton, Wes Clark, Evan Bayh and Mark Warner -- supposed `08 hopefuls, all), or

B. a deliberate attempt to concoct a reason to withdraw U.S. forces based on a lie.

Yet George Bush is scheduled to make a speech in Annapolis on Wednesday touting the readiness of Iraqi forces, supposedly as a prelude to announcing an administration exit timetable:

U.S. Starts Laying Groundwork for Significant Troop Pullout From Iraq

President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in which aides say he is expected to herald the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for pulling out U.S. forces.

(more)

A number of articles are coming out today highlighting the realities on the ground in Iraq.  And the realities are not pretty.  The civil war is in full swing, and the U.S. is essentially training and arming death squads.

John Negroponte must be smiling from ear-to-ear...

First, this piece from the front page of The New York Times by Dexter Filkins:

Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 28 - As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates appeared to have been tortured.

...

Many of the claims of killings and abductions have been substantiated by at least one human rights organization working here - which asked not to be identified because of safety concerns - and documented by Sunni leaders working in their communities.

American officials, who are overseeing the training of the Iraqi Army and the police, acknowledge that police officers and Iraqi soldiers, and the militias with which they are associated, may indeed be carrying out killings and abductions in Sunni communities, without direct American knowledge.

The article goes on to outline specific cases and similarities among the reports, suggesting that there does, indeed, appear to be a pattern of religious killings taking place.

Solomon Moore has a similar piece in the Los Angeles Times, here posted via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Death squads don Iraqi uniforms

The infiltration of Iraq's police force by Shiite militia is confirmed by an Interior Ministry official.

BAGHDAD - Shiite Muslim militia members have infiltrated Iraq's police force and are carrying out sectarian killings under the color of law, according to documents and scores of interviews.

The abuses raise the specter of organized retaliation against Sunni-led insurgents who have killed thousands of Shiites, who endured decades of subjugation under Saddam Hussein.

The abuses also undermine the U.S. effort to stabilize the nation and to train Iraq's security forces -- the Bush administration's prerequisites for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

The story goes on in much the same vein as The Times story, detailing documented cases of death squads pulling Sunni men from their homes and leaving their bodies in ditches.

But these raids don't always result in immediate death.  Sometimes, torture is preferred:

Abuse of prisoners in Iraq widespread, officials say

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi authorities have been torturing and abusing prisoners in jails across the country, current and former Iraqi officials charged.

Deputy Human Rights Minister Aida Ussayran and Gen. Muntadhar Muhi al-Samaraee, a former head of special forces at the Ministry of the Interior, made the allegations two weeks after 169 men who apparently had been tortured were discovered in a south-central Baghdad building run by the Interior Ministry. The men reportedly had been beaten with leather belts and steel rods, crammed into tiny rooms with tens of others and forced to sit in their own excrement.

A senior American military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said he suspected that the abuse wasn't isolated to the jail the U.S. military discovered.

Ussayran said abuse was taking place across the country.

In five visits to a women's prison in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district over more than three months, the Human Rights Ministry found that women were being raped by male guards, Ussayran said. That problem continues.

All of these reports support the comments retired Lt. General William Odom made last week on the NewsHour regarding what he had been hearing from commanders and trainers on the ground in Iraq:

LT. GEN. WILLIAM ODOM (Ret.): It is an illusion to think you could leave a stable military there. What you are leaving is a more competent set of militias, which we are training under the illusion that they are the Iraqi security force and police are essentially a front for militias putting their forces in there.

...

Bernie (retired Lt. General Bernard Trainor), I know you have been talking to some of the people out there, lots of the trainers at the tactical level know that we're not going to train a security force up; they know these people are more loyal to militias than they are to any Iraqi regime. That is a fact that staying three more years won't change.

Rep. Jack Murtha echoed Odom's statements on what he was hearing from commanders and trainers on the ground.  The Iraqi forces could not be trusted because they owed allegiance to their militias, not the government.

What Democrats need to do now is unite and, as one, demand open accountability from this administration on the real state of the Iraqi military.  And they should recruit the  Republicans who have been skeptical and critical of the administration's handling of this war (McCain, Hagel and others) to back up demands for an open assessment of Iraqi troop readiness.

This needs to happen ASAP, before Bush's Wednesday speech!  So contact your congressional rep and your senators and demand an open and honest assessment of Iraqi troop readiness.

I want the troops out of there as much as the next person, but I refuse to allow Bush to perpetuate yet another lie in order to cover up his own, sorry-ass incompetencies and failures.

Originally posted to Bob Johnson on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:14 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Absolutely. Time for the truth. (4.00)
    Late in the day, folks. Last chance to salvage our reputation.

     lots of the trainers at the tactical level know that we're not going to train a security force up; they know these people are more loyal to militias than they are to any Iraqi regime. That is a fact that staying three more years won't change.

    Nobody else is fooled. The first step is to demand total oppenness and transparency, now.

    •  This is the rare occasion when I make an explicit (4.00)
      ... request that folks recommend a diary of mine.

      We need to have our elected representatives demand the truth before Bush speaks on Wednesday.

      Visit Satiric Mutt -- my contribution to the written cholesterol now clogging the arteries of the Internet.

      by Bob Johnson on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:15:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  been hearin this 4 few weeks-in mid civil war mess (none)
      •  We all agree... (none)
        1)that this Iraq debacle was avoidable and
        2)a distraction from the fight against terrorism and
        3)was fucked up by underestimation of the problems we would face and
        4)has undermined our standing in the world.
        Given this, do you believe...
        1)in the "pottery barn rule"?
        2)that an unstable Iraq will spill its turmoil throughout the region?
        What are your ideas for getting us out of this mess, and what will the results of those actions be a few years down the road?
        •  No, I do not believe in the Pottery Barn rule (4.00)
          It's inane.  We cannot fix anything while we are there and we've proven that over and over.

          I believe the same thing that Odom and Murtha believe.  That is, that other nations including groups such as the UN, NATO and the Arab League will be unwilling to help out as long as we are still in country.

          Thus, we need to vacate Iraq, and then ask others to help fill the void.  Only then will others step up.

          As has been noted by numerous experts who are far more knowledgeable than I am on the subject, the nations surrounding Iraq have vested interests in not letting the trouble there spill over the borders.  So do the Europeans.

          Our presence is an irritant at this point.  Yes, there is liekley to be a civil war.  That is all but unavoidable as factions extract revenge for past wrongs.

          But, please, pray tell, how does our continued presence help rebuild Iraq or prevent a civil war... which is already well underway?

          Second, if you suggest we stay, how do we ever get out?

          That's why Pottery Barn is inane.

          Visit Satiric Mutt -- my contribution to the written cholesterol now clogging the arteries of the Internet.

          by Bob Johnson on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 07:22:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  done (none)
        Great, timely diary.  Thanks.
  •  I want to know who is training who in what. (none)
    We are outsourcing a good deal of training operations. Are any companies willingly training militias who act as death squads? Are they teaching them anything accepted techniques or School of the Americas techniques? Is there any oversight to ensure the right people are getting the right training?  I don't know, but I am not sure there is a Federal agency that can vet the training operations done by the private sector.

    we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888) -8.25; -6.41

    by Tirge Caps on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:27:56 PM PST

    •  Good point. (4.00)
      More questions that should be asked right now.

      So mcuh for spreading democracy and freedom.

      Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.

      Visit Satiric Mutt -- my contribution to the written cholesterol now clogging the arteries of the Internet.

      by Bob Johnson on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:31:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It makes me very nervous (4.00)
        A lot of the people who work for the private sector doing this kind of thing know only this kind of thing and they are good at it. But any group attracts "bad apples", be it UN peacekeepers, US military, whomever. So it is natural to assume the private sector will attract their percentage of immoral personnel. What concerns me is that less than three charges have been brought against private contractors in Iraq. PW Singer has said, "You have to ask yourself if we have found the Stepford Village of Iraq". Well, have we? Of course not. Essentially, there is a legal black hole meekly covered by MEJA... meekly because it hasn't been enforce but at all.

        The private sector has more fluidity, flexibility. It would not be preposterous to ponder if certain elements were capable of banding together more easily, or if there were ceertain things certain individuals are known for. If you know fifty guys who have no problem training in techniques that will win (whatever that ends up being) rather than remain adherent to democratic values, than it would be easy to organize them under the auspices of a company team.

        Who's to say? I really don't know. I have no doubt the majority of the personnel in the private sector are professionals. But what damage can that immoral percentage have? In government, as faulty as it may be, we have systems to check this as best as possible. In the private sector you do not have these checks.

        I think it is perfectly plausible that segments within the private sector are training Iraqi militias in undemocratic military techniques at the behest of our government.

        we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888) -8.25; -6.41

        by Tirge Caps on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:47:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I did a diary yesterday (none)
        on the death of Col. Ted Westhusing. He oversaw a contractor, USIS, training of Iraqi forces.  

        Before his death (said to be a suicide, but debatable), he was investigating corruption and human rights violations by USIS.  

    •  Riding Shotgun With the Bad Boys: Salvador Option (4.00)
      Oversight?

      According to Sy Hersh:

      "The Pentagon doesn't feel obligated to report any of this to Congress," the former high-level intelligence official said. "They don't even call it 'covert ops'-it's too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In their view, it's 'black reconnaissance.' They're not even going to tell the cincs"-the regional American military commanders-in-chief. (The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)

      "Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?" the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. "We founded them and we financed them," he said. "The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it." A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon's commando capabilities, said, "We're going to be riding with the bad boys."

      More at Riding Shotgun With the Bad Boys: The Salvador Option.

  •  I literally begged Feinstein to vote against (none)
    Negroponte.  She replied he was a fine candidate.  Feinstein lost my vote.  And I don't give a fuck if a Republican takes her place.  

    These are her values.  I can't hang.  I can't "take one" for the collective.  Sorry.  I know she is solid.

  •  It's just propaganda for the midterm elections. (none)
         The repugs and neocons are not leaving Iraq.

         They just need to sucker enough voters to retain a majority in the house.

         ANYONE who knows what "Google" is on the internet, and well, has at least twice the IQ of non-wealthy repug voters (at least a million in the USA alone!) can learn that while there is a single group of Iraqi troops able to operate with massive USA support, there isn't even an Iraqi squad cohesive enough to operate on it's own.

         That single group will implode the instant the USA leaves Iraq, leaving Iraq with exactly zero troops able to do ANYTHING.

         But the point is moot.

         Any and all talk from repugs about leaving Iraq is geared towards maintaining a repug majority in the house after the midterm elections.

         Nothing more, nothing less.

         Don't get suckered.

         

    •  however... (none)
      we might be able to use this as a talking point on Democrats who are saying that talk about withdrawal is premature.

      there isn't even an Iraqi squad cohesive enough to operate on it's own.

      The insurgents seem to be doing perfectly well without US help other than in recruiting for them.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 01:52:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  if it's made totally clear (4.00)
    that iraqis are not ready to take over their own country, the next question is going to be:  well.  do you want troops to stay until they are??

    Sick of the mess they find/On their desert stage/And the bravery of being out of range. -- r. waters

    by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 12:53:58 AM PST

  •  one other thing (none)
    i'm not convinced feingold doesn't fit into category "A." as well.

    he's an '08 hopeful.    his plan does not rule out the possibility that iraqi troop strength progress would be a determinant.  it's a "flexible" plan based on that contingency.

    Sick of the mess they find/On their desert stage/And the bravery of being out of range. -- r. waters

    by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 01:02:56 AM PST

  •  The only demand we should be making... (none)
    Is an end to US military involvement in Iraq. Of course Bush is lying, as I commented in your last diary, the plan is to reduce boots on the ground while increasing the involvement of US air power. And that's a recipe for even greater disaster for everyone but the Army, Marine, and National Guard troops that get to leave the theater.

    This absolutely SHOULD NOT be couched in terms of "the Iraqis are not ready yet." It should be understood in terms of Nixon's plan of Vietnamization, which similarly drew down troop levels while drastically increasing bombing. The Iraqis will never be ready, because the government we've installed doesn't have the kind of national support it needs for continued stability and therefore the project of building a national military to confront the resistance is automatically a wash. Unfortunately, the major difference with Vietnam, is that there is no unified political force that can consolidate popular support in Iraq. That is what Iraq needs, and we can't give it to them. It might emerge after we leave, but unfortunately I doubt it. What I don't doubt, however, is that our presence there actively suppresses the emergence of such a political force in the near future (although it probably guarantees it in the long run).

    Frankly, I would be as happy with Bush lying us out of this war as I was angry about him lying us into it. But that is not what's on the table. The drawing down of troops, if it happens, will happen alongside the expansion of the air war.

    Anyone who is sincerely antiwar or even anti-this-war, needs to oppose that as much as the current situation. Our troops aren't the only human beings involved in this mess.

    Make love not war because love is lovely and war is very ugly, ya know?-U Roy

    by Rojo on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 01:57:20 AM PST

  •  Death squads aside for a moment... (4.00)
    Why does no one in the MSM ask any tough questions about the training of the Iraq military?  I've been listening to this stuff for years, it seems like, and the numbers continue to be all over the map.  Who is doing the training, how many can they train in a given period of time, and what happens to the ones they train?  Because it's evident that either the administration is lying through their teeth (always a good initial assumption), or the attrition of trained troops is draining the bucket from the bottom just as fast as our training program is filling it up at the top.

    So what's happening to the trainees?  Are they being killed in droves?  Are they jumping ship?  Are they joining the other side?  Are they simply lazy, unmotivated, or untrustworthy?

    Supposedly, Bush's exit strategy depends on this.  Am I supposed to believe that the entire U.S. military, plus myriad private contractors, plus tens of billions of dollars, can't successfully conduct basic training of a bunch of raw recruits in a couple of months??

  •  Iraq = (none)
    clusterfuck on top of clusterfuck.

    Good job, Bob.

  •  Here is our message (4.00)
    and if you ask me, it needs to be couched in these words. No weasel-wording, no pussyfooting around the issue, no calling it "misstatements" or "facts not in evidence" or "at odds with reality":

    They lie.

    They lie as a matter of course.

    They lie as a matter of policy.

    They lie when the truth would suit them better.

    They lied their way into this war, and now they're trying to lie their way out.

    They simply do not know how to do anything other than lie. To us, to the world, to themselves.

    You cannot trust a single, solitary thing this administration says to be anything but a lie.

    And anyone who wants to take this country back needs to call them liars, to their faces, to the public and to the world, over and over and over again until the press, the people, and yes, maybe even the liars themselves get the message that they lie, they lie from start to finish, and then when they're done they lie some more just to keep in practice.

    The Republicans are now the party of corruption, of reverse Robin Hoodism, and the party of lies.

    •  Yes. (none)
      I would oove to se one of our probable `08 nominees make such a statement.  Not likely, but there may be a reward for speaking the truth.  (Isn't sad that I have to write that?)

      Visit Satiric Mutt -- my contribution to the written cholesterol now clogging the arteries of the Internet.

      by Bob Johnson on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 07:23:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, Bob...nice diary entry (none)

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right

    by darthstar on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 09:34:53 AM PST

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