May 7th, 2004


Bay Area MPs tell of widespread beatings of Iraqis.

Reuters reports that three U.S. military policemen from the 870th Military Police Company based in the Bay Area, have reported widespread beatings of prisoners in Iraq.

"It was not just these six people .... Yes, the beatings happen, yes, all the time."

A more telling statement, perhaps, came from Spc. Dave Bischel:
"We were constantly being attacked, we had terrible support ... also being extended all the time, a lot of us had problems with our loved ones suffering from depression. It all contributes to the psychological component of soldiers when they get stressed."

Absolutely right. These soldiers are being set up to fail, because they are stressed, they are angry, they have had their tours of duty extended, they work with the prisoners for too long, they lack quality supervision, they have poor living conditions, they lack adequate facilities and leaves to fully destress and decompress, they are regularly under attack, their duties are not rotated regularly, etc. Also, it is unreasonable, perhaps, to expect reservists to function at the same level of skill and with the same degree of training as seasoned army MPs.

Frankly, this makes me concerned. Why? Because there are LiveJournal users (who I won't mention) serving as reservist MPs in Abu Ghraib right now, and they have had their tour of duty extended past the initial year in Iraq, do work very long hours, don't have adequate time to decompress, aren't given enough leave, do have tough living conditions, and do face attacks on a regular basis.

Here is an exerpt from Maj. Gen. Taguba's report on the Abu Ghraib abuse:
"I find that psychological factors, such as the difference in culture, the Soldiers� quality of life, the real presence of mortal danger over an extended time period, and the failure of commanders to recognize these pressures contributed to the perversive atmosphere that existed at Abu Ghraib."

What is needed is more evidence of actual changes in policy in Iraq, and fewer empty promises out of Washington. We in the United States have had enough promises from our government, and Allah knows that the Iraqis have had enough empty promises. Only real, tangible, on-the-ground changes will start to heal the damage this scandal has done to our nation, not just at home, not just in Iraq, but worldwide.

The end of Sadr? Or the beginning of Jihad?

Moqtada al-Sadr arrived in Kufa today to lead the Friday prayers.

Many of al-Sadr's followers in the holy city of Najaf and Karbala have been hunted down and killed by the U.S. over the past few days, just miles away from the holy shrines and glittering minerets. Just miles from the thin line between publically acceptable military action and a holy war which could engulf all of Iraq. The U.S. are playing a very dangerous game.

So, al-Sadr has returned to the mosque where his brave, defiant father gave his final sermon, dressed in his white death shroud, ready for Saddam to strike him down.

It remains to be seen what Moqtada al-Sadr will say for himself, for he is clearly not his father... but today, peace in Iraq may weigh heavily on the clothes he decides to wear.

Save Rumsfeld!

The Economist is calling for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation, a bold move for such a magazine.

Personally, I'm torn. Donald Rumsfeld's resignation would probably save U.S. lives in Iraq in the shortterm, in that his ineptitude has cost many U.S. servicemen to lose their lives. Remember when Donald said our troops would be greeted with flowers? Or that we'd be out in months? Or when he knew where the WMD's were around Baghdad? Or when he argued against his general's advice before the war and brought too few troops to prevent Iraq from being looted? Or when he cut off pensions for the Iraqi army and forced them into the arms of the Saddam loyalists? Ah, the memories....

That said, if Donald Rumsfeld stays around, it might result in the death of more U.S. troops in the near-term, but it almost certainly will result in the death of Bush's re-election hopes in November, followed by a much quicker end to the conflict in Iraq. You can't fly high with an anchor around your neck...

The Kerry campaign has already talked about using ads to target Cheney and link him with Bush as a way of damaging Bush's favorable ratings... why? Because Cheney is scary. Well, thanks to the past week or so, Rumsfeld is now officially scarier.

Ultimately, I think Rumsfeld will have to go, just because the negatives of having him around will be so overwhelming that Bush won't have any choice. That said, the more Rummy sticks around, the worse off Bush will be come election time. Do we really want to risk seeing Bush's ratings skyrocket because he had to replace a three-year non-combat flyboy like Rummy with a seasoned general and skilled leader like Colin Powell?! No way!

So, my advice to Bush is to "stay the course". Don't be flexible. Don't pay attention to critics. Stay stubborn. Kiss up to the radicals in your own party. Stay firmly entrenched in dogma. Make more empty promises... and, above all, don't get rid of Donald Rumsfeld.

Don't worry. We'll do it for you when the time comes.