The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
Iraq's proposed constitution leaves key issues unresolved
By Nancy A. Youssef and Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder, October 14, 2005

As Iraqis headed to the polls on Saturday to vote on their nation's proposed constitution, concerns mounted that the document, if it's approved as expected, would postpone rather than solve the divisive issues that could further destabilize this war-torn nation.

Left unresolved are key points such as whether to allow Iraq's provinces to join together to form regional governments that could divide the country along sectarian lines; how potentially billions of dollars in untapped oil revenue would be distributed; and the role of Islam in the crafting and enforcement of laws.

The nation's major political parties agreed this week to discuss these divisive issues next year and to hold a second constitutional referendum. [complete article]

See also, No voting centers in many cities in west Iraq (Reuters), Sunni bombs and guards greet Iraq vote (WP), Iraqi women see little but darkness (WP).

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G.I.'s and Syrians in tense clashes on Iraqi border
By James Risen and David E. Sanger, New York Times, October 15, 2005

A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops, including a prolonged firefight this summer that killed several Syrians, has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war, according to current and former military and government officials.
The broadening military effort along the border has intensified as the Iraqi constitutional referendum scheduled for Saturday approaches, and as frustration mounts in the Bush administration and among senior American commanders over their inability to prevent foreign radical Islamists from engaging in suicide bombings and other deadly terrorist acts inside Iraq.

Increasingly, officials say, Syria is to the Iraq war what Cambodia was in the Vietnam War: a sanctuary for fighters, money and supplies to flow over the border and, ultimately, a place for a shadow struggle. [complete article]

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Arab countries look to play a role in Iraq
By Roula Khalaf, Financial Times, October 14, 2005

Arab governments are struggling to counter Iranian influence in Iraq by carving out a role for themselves as mediators in the conflict.

With blessing from the US, the Arab League is proposing to hold an Iraqi conference of national reconciliation soon after the constitutional referendum.

An Arab League team was in Baghdad this week to prepare for a visit by Amr Moussa, its secretary general, to discuss plans for the conference.

Senior Arab officials say the US, which sought to marginalise Iraq's Arab neighbours after the 2003 war, has been asking for their input in recent months, amid rising concerns over the growing influence of Tehran and dwindling domestic support for the US military presence in Iraq.

The Arabs' leverage, however, is limited. The League itself has rarely proved effective and is seen by Shia and Kurds in Iraq as a backer of the Sunni Arabs. Meanwhile Syria, a League member, has been accused of supporting Iraqi insurgents. [complete article]

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If Bush's Brain is removed, it's gonna hurt
By John Dickerson, Slate, October 14, 2005

What's going to happen to Karl? That question was being asked in the White House and throughout Washington today as the president's top political adviser appeared for a fourth time before the grand jury in the CIA leak probe. That he answered questions for four and a half hours only increased speculation that Rove might be the target of an indictment when Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald wraps up his work later this month. If he is indicted, it is almost certain that Rove will have to resign. White House officials will not talk about the case but do not challenge the logical notion that Chief of Staff Andy Card is already thinking through how to fill Rove's shoes. Card can shuffle around his duties into different organizational boxes, but it won't do much good. Rove can't be replaced. His departure would create a "black hole," says one official who works with Rove closely. "He's irreplaceable." [complete article]

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Casualties of the Bush administration
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch, October 13, 2005

In late August 2005, after twenty years of service in the field of military procurement, Bunnatine ("Bunny") Greenhouse, the top official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of awarding government contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, was demoted. For years, Greenhouse received stellar evaluations from superiors -- until she raised objections about secret, no-bid contracts awarded to Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) -- a subsidiary of Halliburton, the mega-corporation Vice President Dick Cheney once presided over. After telling congress that one Halliburton deal was "was the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career," she was reassigned from "the elite Senior Executive Service... to a lesser job in the civil works division of the corps."

When Greenhouse was busted down, she became just another of the casualties of the Bush administration -- not the countless (or rather uncounted) Iraqis, or the ever-growing list of American troops, killed, maimed, or mutilated in the administration's war of convenience-- but the seemingly endless and ever-growing list of beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming. [complete article]

See also, Bush abandonment watch (Timothy Noah).

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Iraq: The state we're in
By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, October 14, 2005

Iraq is a country paralysed by fear. Thirty months after the US and British invasion the country is getting closer to civil war by the day. Ethnic cleansing of Shia by Sunni death squads has started in the south and west of Baghdad. Insurgents control large parts of the city at night. They lob mortar bombs at will into the heavily fortified American, British and Iraqi government headquarters in the Green Zone.

The American and British governments seem disconnected from the terrible reality of Iraq. Tony Blair says the time scale for withdrawal is "when the job is done." But stop any Iraqi in the streets of Baghdad and the great majority say the violence will get worse until the US and Britain start to pull out. They say the main catalyst for the Sunni Arab insurrection is the US occupation.

A deep crisis is turning into a potential catastrophe because President George Bush and Tony Blair pretend the situation in Iraq is improving. To prove to their own voters that progress is being made, they have imposed on Iraq a series of artificial milestones. These have been achieved but have done nothing to halt the ever deepening violence. [complete article]

(Note: This is a very long article. If you have a dial-up connection, please be patient while the page downloads.)

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In Iraqi swing city, hope vs. defiance
By Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, October 14, 2005

In the heart of the Sunni triangle, Saturday's vote has laid bare two distinct visions of Iraq. For Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs, the referendum has brought forth the grievances that have fueled their two-year insurgency: their political disenfranchisement and the humiliation of being forced to live under U.S. military occupation. For the Americans who patrol the streets, facing daily bombings and small-arms attacks, the referendum embodies their best hope to stem that insurgency and ultimately withdraw from Iraq.

Many Sunnis here said they would turn out to reject the charter as a way of registering their anger at the American military presence; they vowed that the insurgency would go on, whatever the result. Meanwhile, the task of the Americans is dauntingly complex -- to transfer authority to the Iraqis even as they coordinate an election and continue to fight a war. [complete article]

See also, Insurgents bomb Sunni Arab office in Iraq (AP), Sunnis split over final draft of proposed Iraqi constitution (WP), and In Sunni area, a pro-constitution buzz (LAT).

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For injured U.S. troops, 'financial friendly fire'
By Donna St. George, Washington Post, October 14, 2005

His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities.

The last thing on his mind, he said, was whether the Army had correctly adjusted his pay rate -- downgrading it because he was out of the war zone -- or whether his combat gear had been accounted for properly: his Kevlar helmet, his suspenders, his rucksack.

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing.

"I was shocked," recalled Loria, now 28 and medically retired from the Army. "After everything that went on, they still had the nerve to ask me for money."

Although Loria's problems may be striking on their own, the Army has recently identified 331 other soldiers who have been hit with military debt after being wounded at war. The new analysis comes as the United States has more wounded troops than at any time since the Vietnam War, with thousands suffering serious injury in Iraq or Afghanistan. [complete article]

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Out-Saddaming Saddam - Mr. Bush goes to Tikrit (sort of)
By Jeremy Scahill, Counterpunch, October 13, 2005

Just when you think that President Bush couldn't out-Saddam Saddam any more, he goes and does something that proves you wrong. If any Iraqis caught the hilarious videoconference today between Bush at the White House and troops from the 42nd Infantry Division in Tikrit, it may have seemed like a high-tech version of a familiar scene from the old days when Saddam used to travel to Tikrit to feel (and more importantly to have others feel) his greatness.

The videoconference was a display of just how far the propaganda system has come since Bush took over from Saddam. Instead of visiting Tikrit, which the president lightly acknowledged he could not safely do, Bush addressed-- via satellite--an adoring bunch of US soldiers that had apparently been given a heavy dose of Kool-Aid before the telecast began. Oh, there was one Iraqi there--Sergeant Major Akeel from the 5th Iraqi Army Division, whose role in the affair was limited to smiling like a good Iraqi and saying to Bush, "I like you." [complete article]

Comment -- We can't afford to gloat about President Bush's descent into political and psychological paralysis. A president who is crippled by loss of confidence and loss of support will inevitably be indecisive and ineffectual. That means that we can't expect any bold policy moves when it comes to Iraq. More than likely Bush will continue bumbling along looking for new prognosticators of happy days to come that like the false promises of a fortune-teller succor hope in the face of adversity.

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That was a short war on poverty
By E. J. Dionne Jr, Washington Post, October 14, 2005

It has long been said that Americans have short attention spans, but this is ridiculous: Our bold, urgent, far-reaching, post-Katrina war on poverty lasted maybe a month.

Credit for our ability to reach rapid closure on the poverty issue goes first to a group of congressional conservatives who seized the post-Katrina initiative before advocates of poverty reduction could get their plans off the ground.

As soon as President Bush announced his first spending package for reconstructing New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the Republican Study Committee and other conservatives switched the subject from poverty reduction to how Katrina reconstruction plans might increase the deficit that their own tax-cutting policies helped create. [complete article]

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Scandals take toll on Bush's 2nd term
By Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker, Washington Post, October 14, 2005

A string of scandals involving some of the most powerful Republicans in Washington have converged to disrupt President Bush's agenda, distract aides and allies, and exacerbate political problems for an already weakened administration, according to party strategists and White House advisers.

With Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove returning to a grand jury as early as today, associates said the architect of Bush's presidency has been preoccupied with his legal troubles, a diversion that some say contributed to the troubled handling of Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court. White House officials are privately bracing for the possibility that Rove or other officials could be indicted in the next two weeks.

Bush's main partners on Capitol Hill likewise are spending time defending themselves as the president's legislative initiatives founder. The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for alleged campaign funding illegalities has thrown Republicans into one of the most tumultuous periods of their 10-year reign and created the prospect of a leadership battle. And while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) deals with a subpoena in an insider-trading investigation, a bipartisan majority rebuked Bush over torture policies. [complete article]

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More than Hussein is on trial
By Richard Boudreaux and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, October 14, 2005

U.S. officials had advised the judges on the fledgling court to try a "test case" against underlings before putting Hussein on the stand. Urged by Iraqi leaders to move more swiftly, investigative judges chose instead to include Hussein along with seven aides in the court's first trial.

The conflicting pressures on the Iraqi Special Tribunal reflect deep uncertainties about how to proceed with the notorious prisoner 22 months after his capture. With the country torn since his ouster by an insurgency targeting Iraq's elected leaders and 140,000 U.S. troops, much more is at stake than the fate of one man. [complete article]

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Al Qaeda in Iraq says Zawahri letter is fake - Web
By Firouz Sedarat, Reuters, October 13, 2005

Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq on Thursday rejected as a fabrication a letter by a top group leader that was issued by U.S. officials and suggested deep internal rifts among militants.

According to the letter, released this week by U.S. intelligence officials, al Qaeda's second in command Ayman al-Zawahri urged the group's leader in Iraq to prepare for an Islamic government to take over when U.S. forces leave.

The letter warns Zarqawi the killing of Shi'ite civilians and hostages risked alienating Sunnis at a time when al Qaeda in Iraq should be seeking support for a religious state.

But Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq said the letter's release showed the "bankruptcy plaguing the infidels' camp". [complete article]

See also, Zawahiri letter to Zarqawi: a Shiite forgery? (Juan Cole).

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Song and dance on the terror trail
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, October 14, 2005

After spending billions of dollars and devoting thousands of people to the task, hundreds of al-Qaeda operatives have been arrested in the past four years in the US-led "war on terror".

Yet any assessment of al-Qaeda is still largely based on guesswork rather than concrete facts, and US policymakers are still very much in the dark about Osama bin Laden, his deputy Aiman al-Zawahiri, and the exact structure of al-Qaeda, its financial arteries, and even its real ideological paradigms.

Having recently spent 21 days in the US as a State Department guest, with al-Qaeda and the "war on terror" as the central topics during the stay, this correspondent's views largely stand vindicated, that the "war on terror" is still far from any logical conclusion. [complete article]

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Militants are heroes in the village that was buried alive
By Justin Huggler, The Independent, October 14, 2005

The men who operate the ferry service [taking the earthquake victims to hospital] are young, with long Islamic beards. They are the militants of Lashkar-e Toiba, listed as a "terrorist" group in the West and officially banned by the Pakistani government under Western pressure. They have come here from the same madrassa outside Lahore that attracted attention in July, after it emerged that one of the 7/7 London bombers had visited it.

But to the desperate people here, the militants of Lashkar-e Toiba are heroes. "The government has done nothing for us," says Said Zurkanian, a resident of Chalabandi.

"Only Lashkar has helped us. People died of hunger over there; there was no food for the injured. There are 200 people over there who are urgent need of medical help. If they do not get it they will die. Lashkar is taking it to them." [complete article]

See also, Hopelessness descends over quake victims (WP).

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World may have to live with nuclear Iran - U.S. study
Reuters (via Yahoo), October 13, 2005

Iran is determined to acquire nuclear weapons and the United States may find it less costly to deter a nuclear-armed Iran than to dismantle its weapons program, according to two U.S.-funded researchers who advise the Pentagon.

"Can the United States live with a nuclear-armed Iran? Despite its rhetoric, it may have no choice," concluded the report by Judith Yaphe and Air Force Col. Charles Lutes, which was released on Thursday.

The potential for rolling back Iran's program, once it produces a nuclear weapon, "is lower than preventing it in the first place and the costs of rollback may be higher than the costs of deterring and containing a nuclear Iran," they said.

The two analysts are senior fellows at the National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies, which does policy research for the Defense Department. [complete article]

See the study, Reassessing the Implications of a Nuclear-Armed Iran, by Judith S. Yaphe and Charles D. Lutes (PDF).

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Cleaning house
By Ben Bain, Carnegie Endowment, October 13, 2005

The US government program to prevent nuclear materials from vanishing from insecure facilities into the hands of terrorists has scored several striking successes but is still far from accomplishing its goals. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) has securely repatriated 122kg of highly-enriched uranium to Russia in eight operations, including a recent dramatic midnight airlift from Prague. The GTRI mission is of the highest importance, yet recent studies conclude that progress is dangerously slow.

Harvard's Graham Allison believes, "The only thing keeping al-Qaida from building a nuclear weapon is the fissile material needed to produce a self-sustaining chain reaction for a nuclear explosion." The 2005 Carnegie report, Universal Compliance, concluded, "securing weapon-usable fissile materials is, therefore, the single greatest nonproliferation priority." As Allison puts it, "no fissile material, no nuclear explosion, no nuclear terrorism." [complete article]

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Turkey, Europe and the clash of civilizations
By Gwynne Dyer, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 9, 2005

There is an attractive symbolism in the idea that Turkish membership in the EU would finally begin to repair the split that tore the old classical Mediterranean civilization in two with the rise of Islam 14 centuries ago, but it is not really about an alliance between Christianity and Islam. On the contrary, it has become possible only because both Western Europeans and Turks have ceased to define themselves solely or even mainly in religious terms. Many people in Western Europe and most people in Turkey are still believers, but it doesn't swallow up their whole identity. [complete article]

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Sistani urges Iraq charter 'yes'
BBC News, October 13, 2005

Iraq's most senior Shia cleric has called on the country's majority Shia community to vote "yes" in Saturday's constitution referendum. The statement was conveyed by aides of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani based at the shrines of Najaf and Karbala. It is his most direct show of support for the charter and it is expected to carry great weight with Iraqi Shias. [complete article]

See also, Najaf prepares to endorse charter, but rifts are apparent (WP).

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After changes to Iraqi charter, Sunni leaders still differ on support
By Dexter Filkins, New York Times, October 13, 2005

Sunni leaders offered a mixed reaction on Wednesday to a deal intended to improve the prospects of Iraq's constitution, which is set to go before voters in a nationwide referendum on Saturday.

A number of religious and political leaders among the Sunni Arabs, the ethnic group that provides the backbone of the guerrilla insurgency, said they would continue to oppose the proposed charter. The Iraqi Islamic Party, the country's largest Sunni political party, agreed Tuesday to support it in exchange for an amendment that could allow substantial changes after a new National Assembly is elected in December.

Among those continuing to reject the constitution is the powerful Association of Muslim Scholars, which represents hundreds of Sunni clerics from across the country. At least two other Sunni leaders, Adnan al-Dulaimi of the Conference of the Iraqi People and Kamal Hamdoon, a Sunni member of the constitution drafting committee, said Wednesday that they would also continue to oppose it. [complete article]

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Iraq's Kurds ambivalent on charter
By Jackie Spinner, Washington Post, October 13, 2005

In the days leading up to Iraq's historic national elections nearly nine months ago, the streets of this Kurdish provincial capital buzzed with excitement. Aging former pesh merga militia fighters sang revolutionary songs in an impromptu bus parade around the city. Political party workers sat in striped tents outside campaign headquarters and shouted through bullhorns, urging people to vote in the country's first democratic elections in nearly half a century.

The result gave Kurdish leaders their first chance to participate in a central government in decades and a large hand in drafting the new Iraqi constitution that will be put to the vote on Saturday. But in the days before this second historic vote, a city that looked like one big street party in January feels more like a deserted Wrigley Field after the Chicago Cubs let another pennant chance slip away.

Posters announcing the constitutional referendum are noticeably absent from walls that were covered in January. On a busy street corner, a lone pink election banner competed for attention with one announcing new flights from the city's airport and another advertising sweets for the holy month of Ramadan. And across the city, residents expressed ambivalence about the referendum, even though it could give the Kurds a measure of legitimacy they have long sought. [complete article]

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Iraq's little-read charter evokes strong views
By Dan Murphy and Jill Carroll, Christian Science Monitor, October 12, 2005

Just days before Iraq's constitutional referendum on Saturday few Iraqis have read the country's new draft charter or even know what's in the document.

But ask the average Shiite what they think of Iraq's proposed constitution and it will be praised to the heavens. Ask a Sunni, and he or she says that it will lead to the breakup of Iraq, and a deepening of its civil war.

Many simply say they're voting based on what leaders of their communities say, and when they speak of the document's weaknesses or advantages, they focus on group, rather than national interests. [complete article]

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Sectarian resentment extends to Iraq's army
By Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder, October 12, 2005

Swadi Ghilan's two sons were dropping their sister off at high school earlier this year when a carload of Sunni Muslim insurgents pulled up and emptied their AK-47s into their bodies. In broad daylight his children were torn to pieces, their blood splashed against the windshield as they screamed and died.

Ghilan is a major in the Iraqi army and a Shiite Muslim, the sect that makes up some 60 percent of Iraq's population. Now, more than ever, the grieving father says he wants to hunt down and kill not only Sunni guerrilla fighters but also Sunnis who give those fighters shelter and support. By that, he means killing most Sunnis in Iraq.

"There are two Iraqs; it's something that we can no longer deny," Ghilan said. "The army should execute the Sunnis in their neighborhoods so that all of them can see what happens, so that all of them learn their lesson." [complete article]

See also, Sectarian strife tears at neighbors (CSM).

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By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, October 12, 2005

As if they didn't have their hands full with Iraq and terrorism, U.S. intelligence agencies are being drawn into the debate over whether the United States is imminently threatened by a deadly outbreak of bird influenza and whether the Bush administration has adequately prepared for such an epidemic.

Over the last two weeks, the administration has held bird flu briefings classified "Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information" for members of both houses of Congress, according to intelligence and congressional officials. A counterterrorism official indicated that the intelligence community is also studying whether it would be possible for terrorists to somehow exploit the avian flu virus and use it against the United States, though there is no evidence that terrorists have in any way tried to do so. [complete article]

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Dutch unveil the toughest face in Europe with a ban on the burka
By Anthony Browne, The Times, October 13, 2005

The Netherlands is likely to become the first country in Europe to ban the burka, under government proposals that would bring in some of the toughest curbs on Muslim clothing in the world.

The country's hardline Integration Minister, Rita Verdonk, known as the Iron Lady for her series of tough anti-immigration measures, told Parliament that she was going to investigate where and when the burka should be banned. The burka, traditional clothing in some Islamic societies, covers a woman's face and body, leaving only a strip of gauze for the eyes.

Mrs Verdonk gave warning that the "time of cosy tea-drinking" with Muslim groups had passed and that natives and immigrants should have the courage to be critical of each other. She recently cancelled a meeting with Muslim leaders who refused to shake her hand because she was a woman.

The proposals are likely to win the support of Parliament because of the expected backing by right-wing parties. But they have caused outrage among Muslim and human rights groups, who say that the Government is pandering to the far Right. [complete article]

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Charlie Company fights an invisible enemy
By Scott Baldauf, Christian Science Monitor, October 13, 2005

For the past three days, the men of the 82nd Airborne's Charlie Company have been chasing ghosts. Every time they fly into a valley in Chinook helicopters, the Taliban flee at the thumping sound of the rotors.

Every time they walk into a village, Taliban radios crackle with news of their arrival. It's frustrating, and more than one soldier grumbles this mission is "pointless."

"It's frustrating," says 2nd Lieutenant Ben Wisnioski of Rocky Hill, Conn. "It's like Vietnam, or the French in Algeria. We have the ability to beat these guys militarily, but they won't come out and fight us." [complete article]

See also, Rice visit to Afghanistan coincides with violence (WP).

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Musharraf is facing his 'Katrina moment'
By Ahmed Rashid, Daily Telegraph, October 12, 2005

The last time the Pakistan army rode to the rescue of its citizens after a massive natural disaster, the result was a civil war and the loss of half the country.

That was in 1970, when half a million people in what was then East Pakistan drowned as a result of typhoons and floods, and the delay of the army in launching a relief effort led to enormous public anger and the eventual creation of Bangladesh.

The same army is once again in control of the country and of the desperately needed relief effort after an earthquake that in a breath has taken away 40,000 people - half of them children.

Western governments and Pakistanis will be looking closely at the political fall-out for President Pervez Musharraf, who remains a key Western ally, army chief, the supremo of the country and chief relief organiser. Will Gen Musharraf, like George W. Bush, have his Katrina moment, when the public turn against their leader? [complete article]

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Next: a war against nature
By Robert D. Kaplan, New York Times, October 12, 2005

...because of our military's ability to move quickly into new territory and establish security perimeters, it is emerging as the world's most effective emergency relief organization. There is a saying among soldiers: amateurs discuss strategy, while professionals discuss logistics. And if disaster assistance is about anything, it's about logistics - moving people, water, food, medical supplies and heavy equipment to save lives and communities. We also have our National Guard, which is made up primarily of men in their 30's (many of whom are police officers and firefighters in civilian life) trained to deal effectively with the crowds of rowdy young men that tend to impede relief work.

The distinctions between war and relief, between domestic and foreign deployments, are breaking down. This is especially true within the Special Operations contingents. As democratization takes hold, and as feisty local news outlets arise in previously autocratic third-world countries, the military's Special Operations Command can no longer carry out commando-style raids at will.

In recent years, I have been a witness to a shift in emphasis from "direct action" to the soft side of "unconventional war": undertaking relief work in places like the southern Philippines and northern Kenya to win goodwill and, informally, to pick up intelligence on America's terrorist enemies. On a larger scale, the disaster relief provided by the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln during the Indian Ocean tsunami probably did more to improve America's image in Asia in relation to that of China than any conventional training deployment.

So, how can the Pentagon become better at emergency relief without impeding its ability to fight wars? First, it must continue to train primarily for combat. Combat provides a vital esprit de corps, and the skills that are honed in preparation for combat are also the most valuable tools for disaster relief. [complete article]

Comment -- If it wasn't for the fact that, as Andrew Bacevich writes, "Robert Kaplan is a writer whose views command attention among movers and shakers," it would be easy to dismiss Kaplan's views as simply the ravings of a man infatuated with a fantasy about soldiery. But since this vision of GI Joe saving the world has the privilage of appearing on the NYT's op-ed page, let's consider some of the implications of what Kaplan is saying.

Suppose the epicenter of Pakistan's devastating earthquake had been a couple of hundred miles to the south west in Warizistan. What would now be the role for Kaplan's well-armed relief workers? On camera, rescuing earthquake victims, while off camera interogating the injured for tips about al Qaeda suspects?

If, as Kaplan says, the distinctions between war and relief are breaking down, whose interests are thereby being served? Those in need? The "civilian do-gooder groups"? Or is this really just a rosy scenario to those who find it invigorating to contemplate an unimpeded flow of materiel and men securing the globe?

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The conservative crack up
By Howard Fineman, MSNBC, October 12, 2005

President George W. Bush may have no military exit strategy for Iraq, but the "neocons" who convinced him to go to war there have developed one of their own -- a political one: Blame the Administration.

Their neo-Wilsonian theory is correct, they insist, but the execution was botched by a Bush team that has turned out to be incompetent, crony-filled, corrupt, unimaginative and weak over a wide range of issues.

The flight of the neocons -- just read a recent Weekly Standard to see what I am talking about -- is one of only many indications that the long-predicted "conservative crackup" is at hand. [complete article]

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Syrian interior minister's death - suicide or murder?
By Joshua Landis, Syria Comment, October 12, 2005
Syria's interior minister, who ran Lebanon as security chief until 2003, committed suicide Wednesday, days before the expected release of a United Nations report into the assassination of a former Lebanese leader, Syria's official news agency reported.
Was Ghazi Kanaan setting himself up to be [Syrian President Bashar al-Asad's] alternative? Could he have been the Alawite "Musharrif" that some American's and Volker Perthes suggested would take power from the House of Asad and bring Syria back into America's and the West's good graces. I have heard from several people that "high ranking Syrians" have been complaining to people at the National Security Council and elsewhere that they are very distressed by the mistakes Bashar al-Asad has made and the terrible state of US-Syrian relations.

Could Ghazi have been setting himself up as the alternative to Bashar? Could the Syrian government believe he might have been? We don't know, but here goes the possible speculation. He is known to have had good relations with Washington, when he held the Lebanon portfolio. He visited DC. Two of his four sons went to George Washington University in DC.

Kanaan was reported to have been one of the "Old Guard" who spoke out against the extension of Emile Lahoud's presidency in Lebanon, which set the stage for Lebanon's Cedar revolution and the assassination of P.M. Rafiq Hariri. He had been one of the Syrians responsible for cultivating Hariri and building up his position in Lebanon. He was also accused of having significant business relations in Lebanon which tied him to Hariri. It is unlikely that he was involved in Hariri's murder, having been a Hariri and not Lahoud supporter. [complete article]

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Sunnis accept deal on charter
By Borzou Daragahi and Solomon Moore, Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2005

Top Iraqi politicians said late Tuesday that they had reached a deal to persuade leading Sunni Arabs to support a draft constitution that will be the subject of a national referendum Saturday.

Under the terms of the compromise, Sunni leaders would drop their opposition to the constitution if the current National Assembly requires its successor to renegotiate the charter. A new legislature is to be elected in December, and the deal mandates that a second constitutional referendum would be held within four months.

Although it was not immediately clear whether most Sunni Arabs would accept the deal, it was hailed by leaders of the main Sunni Arab political party, which did not participate in last January's national elections. [complete article]

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Insurgents 'importing ideas from Iraq'
By Tim Albone, The Times, October 12, 2005

Fears that Afghan insurgents are learning from their Iraqi counterparts have grown after the fourth suicide bombing in two weeks. Nineteen police officers were also killed when militants attacked their convoy.

On Monday a suicide bomber killed at least five people in Kandahar -- the spiritual home of the Taleban -- including Agha Shah, a government supporter and former militia commander with the US-backed Northern Alliance. A second bomber was intercepted and blew himself up, with no other injuries reported. The police convoy was attacked on the same day in Helmand, where British forces are due to be stationed next year. The victims included the deputy police chief. [complete article]

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Pessimism surrounds falling oil production in Iraq
By Rick Jervis, USA Today, October 12, 2005

Iraq's oil production has fallen below prewar levels to its lowest point in a decade, depriving the country's fledgling government of badly needed income and preventing the United States from achieving one of its main reconstruction goals.

Iraq's oil wells -- beset by equipment problems and saboteurs -- are producing about 1.9 million barrels a day in net production, lower than the 2.6 million it was producing just before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to the London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES).

Of the oil produced, about 500,000 barrels are consumed daily by Iraqis, while 1.4 million barrels are exported, CGES says. [complete article]

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Special prosecutor again queries reporter
By Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post, October 12, 2005

New York Times reporter Judith Miller answered questions yesterday about a previously undisclosed conversation she had with Vice President Cheney's chief of staff in June 2003 and is scheduled to testify before a grand jury today to answer more questions in the investigation of how a covert CIA operative's identity was leaked to reporters.
Numerous lawyers involved in the 22-month investigation said they are bracing for Fitzgerald to bring criminal charges against administration officials. They speculated, based on his questions, that he may be focused on charges of false statements, obstruction of justice or violations of the Espionage Act involving the release of classified government information to unauthorized persons. [complete article]

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Bush without Rove is hard to imagine
By Nedra Pickler, AP (via WP), October 12, 2005

Karl Rove's fingerprints are all over everything at the White House, from politics to policy to the shape of President Bush's entire career in government.

It's hard to imagine Bush without Rove, and vice versa. But the question of what would happen if Rove were forced to resign is something to contemplate, now that the grand jury is pressing the president's aide-de-camp in its investigation into who leaked the identity of a covert CIA officer.

White House insiders speaking privately say Rove would be irreplaceable. While Bush has a few other close confidants in aides like chief of staff Andy Card and counselor Dan Bartlett, none combine such an intimate working knowledge of politics and policy with such a long trusted relationship with the president. [complete article]

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For president under duress, body language speaks volumes
By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, October 12, 2005

Only the president's closest friends and family know (if anybody does) what he's really thinking these days, during Katrina woes, Iraq violence, conservative anger over Harriet Miers, and legal trouble for Bush's top political aide and two congressional GOP leaders. Bush has not been viewed up close; as he took his eighth post-Katrina trip to the Gulf Coast yesterday, the press corps has accompanied him only once, because the White House says logistics won't permit it. Even the interview on the "Today" show was labeled "closed press."

But this much could be seen watching the tape of NBC's broadcast during Bush's 14-minute pre-sunrise interview, in which he stood unprotected by the usual lectern. The president was a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts. Bush has always been an active man, but standing with Lauer and the serene, steady first lady, he had the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere. [complete article]

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Conservatives and exiles desert war campaign
By Guy Dinmore, Financial Times, October 11, 2005

Even among the strongest advocates in Washington of the war in Iraq there is a sense of alarm these days, with harsh criticism directed particularly at the draft constitution, which they see as a betrayal of principles and a recipe for disintegration of the Iraqi state.

Expressions of concern among conservatives and former Iraqi exiles, seen also in the rising disillusionment of the American public, reflect a widening gap with the Bush administration and its claims of “incredible political progress” in Iraq.

Over the past week, two of Washington's most influential conservative think-tanks, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held conferences on Iraq where the mood among speakers, including Iraqi officials, was decidedly sombre. [complete article]

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CIA review faults prewar plans
By John Diamond, USA Today, October 12, 2005

A newly released report published by the CIA rebukes the Bush administration for not paying enough attention to prewar intelligence that predicted the factional rivalries now threatening to split Iraq.

Policymakers worried more about making the case for the war, particularly the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, than planning for the aftermath, the report says. The report was written by a team of four former CIA analysts led by former deputy CIA director Richard Kerr.

"In an ironic twist, the policy community was receptive to technical intelligence (the weapons program), where the analysis was wrong, but apparently paid little attention to intelligence on cultural and political issues (post-Saddam Iraq), where the analysis was right," they write. [complete article]

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N.Y. threat may have been a hoax
By Dan Eggen and Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, October 12, 2005

The alleged threat that led to heightened security on New York subways last week may have been a hoax on the part of an Iraqi informant attempting to get money in exchange for information, U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials said yesterday.

The informant has since disappeared in Iraq, and the Defense Department has not been able to locate him, city and federal officials said.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described the informant's claims last week as the "most specific threat" ever received against the city's transit system, leading officials to issue a heightened terrorist alert and blanket the subways with police and National Guard troops.

U.S. troops in Iraq captured three suspects south of Baghdad who the informant said were involved in the alleged plot.

But none of the suspects, including two who were given polygraph examinations, corroborated the informant's allegations or appeared to have any connection to a terrorist plot, according to intelligence officials. [complete article]

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Kyrgyzstan agrees to continuing U.S. military presence at key air base
By Robin Wright, Washington Post, October 12, 2005

After months of talks over continued U.S. access to a military base in Kyrgyzstan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday won formal agreement from the new Kyrgyz leadership for open-ended use of the airfield for continuing military operations and humanitarian programs in nearby Afghanistan.

Rice and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the deal at a joint news conference here after what a senior State Department official described as difficult negotiations between the two countries.

Kyrgyzstan is now requesting additional payment for services and facilities provided to the roughly 1,000 troops who have been based here since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, plus an accounting of funds paid to the Kyrgyz government that was ousted in March in what was known as the Tulip Revolution, the official said. Washington now pays between $40 million and $50 million per year. [complete article]

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Seized letter outlines al Qaeda goals in Iraq
By Susan B. Glasser and Walter Pincus, Washington Post, October 12, 2005

Al Qaeda's top deputy urged the leader of his Iraq branch in July to prepare for the inevitable U.S. withdrawal by carrying out political as well as military actions, and he lectured him that he risked being shunned by an Islamic world angered over his gruesome and not "palatable" killings of fellow Muslims, according to an intercepted letter released yesterday by the U.S. government.

The 6,000-word letter from Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri, to Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi amounts to a detailed portrait of al Qaeda's long-term goals in Iraq and the Middle East, and includes a striking critique of how Zarqawi has gone about waging his war against not only U.S. troops but also Iraqi civilians. The letter was posted yesterday on the Web site of Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte -- -- after senior intelligence officials released excerpts of it last week.

Invoking the specter of the United States abruptly abandoning Iraq as it did to Vietnam, Zawahiri counseled immediate political action: "We must take the initiative and impose a fait accompli upon our enemies, instead of the enemy imposing one on us." [complete article]

Comment -- While Newsweek refers to "anomalies of logic" in the letter, the Post reports, 'Although the letter does not contain a direct reference to Zarqawi until a cryptic greeting to him at the end, a senior intelligence official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity said "it's absolutely certain" it was meant for Zarqawi, declining to elaborate on how U.S. officials made that conclusion.' Outside the text of the letter itself, however, neither publication (nor any other that I have read so far) actually reprints the "cryptic" greeting itself:
By God, if by chance you're going to Fallujah, send greetings to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The letter addressed to Zarqawi asks the reader to pass along greetings ... to Zarqawi. That is of course only "cryptic" if one accepts the claim that the letter was addressed directly to Zarqawi. Moreover, would we not expect that Zawahiri would excercise a smidgen of caution by not spelling out Zarqawi's location?

Be that as it may, whether this is a letter to Zarqawi or one of his associates, let's for the sake of argument accept the claim that this is a message from the leadership of al Qaeda in Pakistan to the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq ("al Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers"). After the Pentagon released just three sentences from the letter last week, why is the full text now appearing on the web site of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence? I suspect that there was one passage that captured the interest of the US embassy in Baghdad as they try to clear the way for passage of the new Iraqi constitution:
I stress again to you and to all your brothers the need to direct the political action equally with the military action, by the alliance, cooperation and gathering of all leaders of opinion and influence in the Iraqi arena. I can't define for you a specific means of action. You are more knowledgeable about the field conditions. But you and your brothers must strive to have around you circles of support, assistance, and cooperation, and through them, to advance until you become a consensus, entity, organization, or association that represents all the honorable people and the loyal folks in Iraq. I repeat the warning against separating from the masses, whatever the danger.
By disseminating this message (along with the rest of the letter with its various appeals for jihadists to pull back from their campaign of violence against Shia civilians), the Bush administration is arguably putting itself in the curious position of attempting to help al Qaeda's senior leadership spread the message that the Iraqi jihadists need a popular political strategy. But if circulating this statement a few days before the referendum has the effect of damping the passions of a few insurgents and thereby diminishing the level of violence until after the vote, then the letter's release will have had what I imagine to be one of the intended effects.

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Lost in Iraq, without a map
By Tony Karon, Rootless Cosmopolitan, October 11, 2005

It's no longer simply the case that U.S. goals in Iraq cannot be achieved; right now U.S. goals in Iraq cannot even be clearly defined. Strip away President Bush's bumper-sticker bromides about "staying the course" and fighting "Islamo-fascism," and what remains is a gaping vacuum in real-world strategy. The Bush administration tore up the traditional U.S. strategic approach towards the Middle East, in the belief that a military hammer-blow at the heart of the Arab world would precipitate a dramatic reordering of the region's realities on terms more favorable than ever to U.S. global interests -- a politico-military fantasy that had less in common with John Foster Dulles than it did with Che Guevara (and whose assumptions were as tragically naive). The failure of the promised regional transformation to materialize has left U.S. policy makers confronting an old reality in which the position of U.S. has deteriorated precipitously as a result of its failed social engineering in Iraq. [complete article]

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Tell us who fabricated the Iraq evidence
By Norman Dombey, The Independent, October 9, 2005

President Bush's principal adviser Karl Rove is to be questioned again over the improper naming of a CIA official. Mohamed ElBaradei, accused by the American right of being insufficiently aggressive, wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his stalwart work at the helm of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Pentagon official Larry Franklin pleads guilty to passing on classified information to Israel. Just a normal week in politics. But there is a thread linking these events and it is Iraq.

Politicians tell us they acted in good faith on the road to war, and maybe they did, but that leaves a prickly question: who was so keen to prove that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat that they forged documents purporting to show that he was trying to buy 500 tons of uranium from Niger to develop nuclear weapons? The forgery was revealed to the Security Council by ElBaradei. That was not an intelligence error. It was a straightforward lie, an invention intended to mislead public opinion and help start a war. [complete article]

See also, A case of treason (Larry Johnson).

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A parting thought on Iraq, again
By Michael Getler, Washington Post, October 9, 2005

There is no bigger story than war. And a war whose major premise -- the threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction -- turned out to be unsupported is an even bigger story. That the administration presented this threat to the public with such a strong, yet false, sense of certainty -- including the imagery of mushroom clouds -- is an even more important lesson for all of us about big but not well-examined decisions. How did a country on the leading edge of the information age get this so wrong and express so little skepticism and challenge? How did an entire system of government and a free press set out on a search for something and fail to notice, or even warn us in a timely or prominent way, that it wasn't or might not be there?

Since the war began, many other questions have been raised about other prewar assessments. But the key question for journalists is how the process of vetting the main prewar rationale for sending Americans into a war took place, or failed to take place. [complete article]

Comment -- While it's true that a politically less servile press corps might have thrown more obstacles in the path of an administration intent on war, the reason George Bush was able to launch an invasion of Iraq was not simply his success in duping the majority of Americans. The reason this country acquiesced to war was that for most people it appeared that this would be someone else's war.

Much as we solemnly profess our awareness of the gravity of war, a war that only involves a small fraction of the population requires a calculation from everyone else in which cost is an abstraction. The blood and treasure can be quantified, yet when they don't translate into absent faces or destroyed homes, they fall into the periphery of a life lived as usual.

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Miller to talk to prosecutor again Tuesday, as some editors question 'NY Times' coverage of her case
By Joe Strupp, Editor and Publisher, October 10, 2005

In the 11 days since Judith Miller left jail after agreeing to testify before a federal grand jury about her sources, many of the facts in the case have yet to come out. But one thing is clear: Her newspaper, The New York Times, has had very little to say about her role in the Plame/CIA leak case, and has been regularly scooped by other papers on the latest twists in her involvement.

The newspaper promised a full accounting by now, but then put it off after Miller was told she had to chat with the federal prosecutor again, on Tuesday. Executive Editor Bill Keller was quoted in an online Business Week article Monday suggesting that the complexities of the situation put the paper in the "uncomfortable" position of not being able to share important information Miller knows.
Leonard Downie Jr., Executive Editor of The Washington Post, was one of several editors who declined to comment on the situation, saying, "I'm in charge of this paper, not that one." (At least two of his reporters have also testified before the Plame grand jury.) Amanda Bennett of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ken Paulson of USA Today, Ann Marie Lipinski of the Chicago Tribune, and Robert Rivard of the San Antonio Express-News, among others, also took a pass. [complete article]

Comment -- Journalists can compete like hyenas, they can cannibalize each others' work, but heaven forbid that journalism itself should become the object of investigation - better just to uphold the code of silence. Or even better, call on the services of a pious in-house ombudsman who can deftly wash the dirty laundry in public yet conveniently out of sight.

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Shield law sponsor: bloggers 'probably not' considered journos
By Mark Fitzgerald, Editor and Publisher, October 10, 2005

Bloggers would "probably not" be considered journalists under the proposed federal shield law, the bill's co-sponsor, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), told the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Monday afternoon.

Lugar emphasized, however, that debate is not yet closed on how to define a journalist under the proposed law.

"As to who is a reporter, this will be a subject of debate as this bill goes farther along," he said in response to a question from Washington Post Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman. "Are bloggers journalists or some of the commercial businesses that you here would probably not consider real journalists? Probably not, but how do you determine who will be included in this bill?"

According to the first draft of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, the "covered person" protected by the bill's terms includes "any entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical in print or electronic form; operates a radio or television station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or operates a news agency or wire service." The legislation also covers employees, contractors or other persons who "gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for any such entity." [complete article]

Comment -- The idea that a legal distinction can be made between bloggers and journalists seems like a bit of a stretch. Would journalists who are also bloggers be slipping in and out of protection under a shield law depending on whether their words appeared in a newspaper or on a blog? And what about the many journalists and contributors (such as the WP's Dan Froomkin and William Arkin) whose blogs are in-house features? Let's face it, even if a few media-illiterate politicians haven't caught on, blogging - for better or worse - is a form of journalism.

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Sunni-Shiite religious war in Iraq feared
By Charles J. Hanley, AP (via Seattle P-I), October 10, 2005

From hilly Zarqa and nearby Salt, from Cairo, Damascus and distant points, young Arab fighters have slipped across the desert and into Iraq. If that shattered land now plunges into a religious war of Sunni against Shiite, will these ranks of foreign volunteers swell further?

Some here in his hometown hope more will follow Iraq's most notorious volunteer, Abu Mussab Zarqawi. But many hope not.

"We're all Muslims. We shouldn't fight each other," townsman Abu Salah, 50, told a reporter as he rushed into Friday prayers recently at the drab storefront Mosque of Omar, wedged between shops in the shadows of a narrow downtown street.

A curbside perfume peddler listening in said many young men from Zarqa have gone over the border to join the anti-U.S. insurgency. "But if it's civil war, they won't get involved," said Ashraf Abu Abdullah. "Instead, we in Jordan should help resolve it." [complete article]

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As talks continue, many Iraqis lack copy of charter
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Omar Fekeiki, Washington Post, October 11, 2005

As outraged would-be voters protested at still not being shown copies of Iraq's proposed constitution, U.S. and Arab diplomats bore down on Sunnis, Shiites and Kurdish leaders Monday in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone to make last-ditch changes to the charter that would overcome Sunni opposition.

But meetings among political leaders -- including consultations with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, a sit-down dinner to break the daily fast of the holy month of Ramadan and gatherings where Arab leaders exerted behind-the-scenes pressure -- all failed to reach a breakthrough, Iraqi officials in and close to the talks said.

With just five days until Iraqis are due to decide on the charter in a referendum, negotiators pointed to meetings Tuesday as the very last chance to haggle out a constitution that would hold Iraq together. Many Iraqis and U.S. officials fear the current draft will instead pull the country further apart. If voters approve a charter widely seen as shutting out the once-dominant Sunni minority, many expect a worsening of the strife that already has killed thousands since spring. [complete article]

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Iraqi Sunnis focus beyond Saturday's vote
By Solomon Moore, Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2005

Not far from Saddam Hussein's birthplace, a delegation of U.S. and Iraqi election organizers met Monday with Sunni Arab heartland leaders to discuss the new Iraqi constitution scheduled for a referendum Saturday.

During two wide-ranging meetings, politicians, clerics, professors, lawyers and tribal elders questioned various tenets of the constitution, the accessibility of polling places and seeds of national disunity they perceive in the document.

But time and again, the discussion went beyond the Oct. 15 ballot, to Dec. 15, the date of the upcoming National Assembly election. [complete article]

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Basra voters say it is time for soldiers to go
By Kim Sengupta, The Independent, October 11, 2005

"I felt proud that the Iraqi police had arrested the British soldiers, it is our country and our laws should be obeyed", said Zainab.

Her colleague Fatima added: "I do not like seeing foreign soldiers on our streets, they should go."

What is surprising about these views in Basra is that they came from two educated, middle class women speaking fluent English who have frequent contact with the British and have little sympathy for the Shia militia who have infiltrated the Iraqi police.

In fact, the women admit they are very wary of the same police who had arrested two British special forces soldiers, triggering a rescue mission in which British forces smashed their way into a police station. [complete article]

See also, Basra governor: British threatening vote (CNN).

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Iraq orders 'corruption' arrests
BBC News, October 11, 2005

Iraq has issued arrest warrants for 27 senior officials from the US-backed interim government over suspected embezzlement of more than $1bn.

The money was allegedly taken from the defence minister coffers to fund corrupt military procurement deals.

Suspects from the former administration include Defence Minister Hazem Shaalan, who has denied the allegations. [complete article]

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Terminal debate
By Bernard Haykel, New York Times, October 11, 2005

When Iraq's most notorious terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared a "full-scale war" on Iraq's Shiites on Sept. 14, he appeared to be speaking for all or most jihadis. But Mr. Zarqawi's war on Shiites is deeply unpopular in some quarters of his own movement. In fact, growing splits among jihadis are beginning to undermine the theological and legal justifications for suicide bombing. And as that emerging schism takes its toll on the jihadi movement, it could well present an opportunity for Western governments to combat jihadism itself.

The simple fact is that many jihadis believe the war in Iraq is not going well. Too many Muslims are being killed. Images of that slaughter, conveyed by satellite television and the Internet throughout the Muslim world, are eroding global support for the jihadi cause. There are strong indications from jihadi Web sites and online journals, confirmed by conversations I have had while doing research among Salafis, or scriptural literalists, that the suicide attacks are turning many Muslims against the jihadis altogether. [complete article]

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Al Qaeda's golden opportunity
By Fawaz A. Gerges, AlterNet, October 11, 2005

The American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq has provided Al Qaeda with a new lease on life, a second generation of recruits and fighters, and a powerful outlet to expand its ideological outreach activities to Muslims worldwide. Statements by Al Qaeda top chiefs, including bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi and Seif al-Adl, portray the unfolding confrontation in Iraq as a "golden and unique opportunity" for the global jihad movement to engage and defeat the United States and spread the conflict into neighboring Arab states in Syria, Lebanon and the Palestine-Israeli theater.

The global war is not going well for bin Laden, and Iraq enabled him to convince his jihadist followers that Al Qaeda is still alive and kicking despite suffering crippling operational setbacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and elsewhere. [complete article]

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Yemeni anti-terror scheme in doubt
By Tim Whewell, BBC News, October 11, 2005

Doubts have been growing over the effectiveness of a pioneering Yemeni scheme to fight Islamist violence by using dialogue to convert extremist prisoners to more moderate views.

Launched three years ago, the project has been followed with interest by British and other Western governments.

The Islamic scholar behind it, Judge Hamoud al-Hitar, has been invited to London twice to lecture senior anti-terrorism officers.

Muslim prisoners in London will now be given mentors before their release to help them understand mainstream Islamic values and prevent them being attracted to extremism.

But in Yemen, some say Judge Hitar's scheme - which the state claims has helped stop terror attacks there - is a sham and does not motivate any real conversions. [complete article]

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Airmen fill the gaps in wartime
By Mark Mazzetti and Greg Miller, Los Angles Times, October 11, 2005

Straining to find ground troops to maintain its force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has begun deploying thousands of Air Force personnel to combat zones in new jobs as interrogators, prison sentries and gunners on supply trucks.

The Air Force years ago banked its future on state-of-the-art fighter jets and billion-dollar satellites. Yet the service that has long avoided being pulled into ground operations is now finding that its people -- rather than its weapons -- are what the Pentagon needs most as it wages a prolonged war against a low-tech, insurgent enemy. [complete article]

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A front-row seat in the plodding war on the Taliban
By Scott Baldauf, Christian Science Monitor, October 11, 2005

The squad jumps from the back end of a Chinook helicopter into a swirl of sand kicked up by the rotors. We take positions on the bank of a mountain stream and pause in silence, scanning the hillside for movement.

The eight-member team is young - the oldest is 28 - and all are fighters of the elite 82nd Airborne, nicknamed the "Ghost Busters." Their mission: To work with about 40 US and 10 Afghan soldiers from a nearby base to sweep villages never before visited by US forces. They're looking for Taliban or their weapons.

For the next five days, I will have a front-row seat in what some call "The Other War," where 18,000 US troops continue fighting four years after ousting the Taliban government and sending Osama bin Laden into hiding. I will accompany a US Army squad carrying a mere 40 lbs. of body armor, notebooks, water, and MREs, while they carry up to 115 lbs. of "battle rattle" - guns, ammo, food, body armor, radios, and night-vision equipment. [complete article]

See also, Bombers target Kandahar (AP).

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Iraqis' broken dreams
By Jackson Diehl, Washington Post, October 10, 2005

Three years ago Kanan Makiya and Rend Rahim were among the most persuasive advocates of a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Both liberal Iraqi intellectuals and eloquent English speakers, they made the case that Saddam Hussein's removal was a cause to be embraced on moral and human rights grounds, and that its result could be the replacement of the Arab world's most brutal dictatorship by its first genuine democracy.
That's why it was so sobering to encounter Makiya and Rahim again last week -- and to hear them speak with brutal honesty about their "dashed hopes and broken dreams," as Makiya put it. The occasion was a conference on Iraq sponsored by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which did so much to lay the intellectual groundwork for the war. A similar AEI conference three years ago this month resounded with upbeat predictions about the democratic, federal and liberal Iraq that could follow Saddam Hussein. This one, led off by Makiya and Rahim, sounded a lot like its funeral. [complete article]

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CIA leak: Karl Rove and the case of the missing e-mail
By Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, October 17, 2005

The White House's handling of a potentially crucial e-mail sent by senior aide Karl Rove two years ago set off a chain of events that has led special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to summon Rove for a fourth grand jury appearance this week. His return has created heightened concern among White House officials and their allies that Fitzgerald may be preparing to bring indictments when a federal grand jury that has been investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity expires at the end of October. Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, tells Newsweek that, in his last conversations with Fitzgerald, the prosecutor assured Luskin "he has not made any decisions."

But lawyers close to the case, who asked not to be identified because it's ongoing, say Fitzgerald appears to be focusing in part on discrepancies in testimony between Rove and Time reporter Matt Cooper about their conversation of July 11, 2003. In Cooper's account, Rove told him the wife of White House critic Joseph Wilson worked at the "agency" on WMD issues and was responsible for sending Wilson on a trip to Niger to check out claims that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. But Rove did not disclose this conversation to the FBI when he was first interviewed by agents in the fall of 2003 -- nor did he mention it during his first grand jury appearance, says one of the lawyers familiar with Rove's account. (He did not tell President George W. Bush about it either, assuring him that fall only that he was not part of any "scheme" to discredit Wilson by outing his wife, the lawyer says.) But after he testified, Luskin discovered an e-mail Rove had sent that same day -- July 11 -- alerting deputy national-security adviser Stephen Hadley that he had just talked to Cooper, the lawyer says. In the e-mail, Rove said Cooper pushed him on whether the president was being hurt by the Niger controversy. "I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote Hadley, adding that he warned Cooper not to get "far out in front on this." After reviewing the e-mail, Rove then returned to the grand jury last year and reported the Cooper conversation. He testified that the talk was initially about "welfare reform" -- a topic mentioned in the e-mail -- and that Cooper then changed the subject. Cooper has written that he doesn't recall a discussion of welfare reform.

Why didn't the Rove e-mail surface earlier? The lawyer says it's because an electronic search conducted by the White House missed it because the right "search words" weren't used. [complete article]

See also, The case of the missing notebook (Greg Mitchell).

Comment -- If the White House wasn't passing along all documents relevant to the prosecutor's investigation because they weren't using the correct search terms it sounds like WH staff had assumed the role of investigators themselves. In other words, they were assuming that they could make their own determination about what would be relevant or irrelevant to the investigation. Wouldn't relevance have been clearly defined by the subpoena and required searches no more complex than those involving names and dates? Doesn't this hint that the White House might be obstructing justice?

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Al-Jazeera finds its English voice
By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, October 8, 2005

Al-Jazeera, which is launching an English-language network with Washington as a major hub, has landed its first big-name Western journalist: David Frost. And the veteran BBC interviewer says he's perfectly comfortable with the unlikely marriage.

"I love new frontiers and new challenges," Frost, 66, said yesterday from London. He said the new network, al-Jazeera International, has promised him "total editorial control" and that he had checked out the company with U.S. and British government officials, "all of which gave al-Jazeera a clean bill of health in terms of its lack of links with terrorism."

But the Bush administration has repeatedly denounced al-Jazeera. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has accused the Qatar-based operation of promoting terrorism and "vicious lies" and has banned its reporters from Iraq. The State Department has complained about "false" and "inflammatory" reporting. [complete article]

Comment -- It's hard to say who's displaying more chutzpah - David Frost or al-Jazeera - but there should be a lesson here for the media. If al-Jazeera is bold enough to present an English voice through Frost, how come there's no parallel to be found through some Middle Eastern voices in the American media?

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Miers, Iraq war, hurricane response prompt GOP to confront Bush
By James Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder, October 9, 2005

The conservative rebellion against Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is widening the split between the White House and Republicans, sowing fears among party strategists that President Bush is jeopardizing 10 years of GOP congressional dominance.

With defiance unseen since he's been in the White House, Senate Republicans already have reined in the administration on the treatment of foreign detainees, forced it to jettison no-bid post-hurricane reconstruction contracts and given Miers a tepid welcome as Bush's choice to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Behind these emboldened stances lie growing unease over Bush's Iraq policy, dismay at the federal response to Katrina and Bush's sinking public approval ratings. [complete article]

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American debacle
By Zbigniew Brzezinski, Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2005

Some 60 years ago Arnold Toynbee concluded, in his monumental "Study of History," that the ultimate cause of imperial collapse was "suicidal statecraft." Sadly for George W. Bush's place in history and — much more important — ominously for America's future, that adroit phrase increasingly seems applicable to the policies pursued by the United States since the cataclysm of 9/11.

Though there have been some hints that the Bush administration may be beginning to reassess the goals, so far defined largely by slogans, of its unsuccessful military intervention in Iraq, President Bush's speech Thursday was a throwback to the demagogic formulations he employed during the 2004 presidential campaign to justify a war that he himself started.

That war, advocated by a narrow circle of decision-makers for motives still not fully exposed, propagated publicly by rhetoric reliant on false assertions, has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than anticipated. It has precipitated worldwide criticism. In the Middle East it has stamped the United States as the imperialistic successor to Britain and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs. Fair or not, that perception has become widespread throughout the world of Islam. [complete article]

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U.S. 'seeks new Syrian leader' as pressure mounts
By Guy Dinmore, Financial Times, October 9, 2005

As it steps up pressure on Damascus, the US is actively seeking an alternative who would take over from President Bashar al-Assad, according to sources close to the Bush administration.

Washington has consulted its allies in an inter-agency search co-ordinated by Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser. The US is also said to be considering military strikes on the Syrian border in response to its alleged support for Iraqi insurgents.

"They are tasking inside and outside the administration with finding an alternative. They would like to find someone to give them a soft landing," said a former official who asked not to be named. "They would probably accept a military figure but it would be very hard to identify someone to step in and work with the US."

A US official in Washington said policy was aimed at "behaviour change", not "regime change". [complete article]

See also, Danger in Damascus (Newsweek).

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Iran moves to curb hard-liners
By Karl Vick, Washington Post, October 8, 2005

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Shiite Muslim cleric who holds ultimate authority in Iran, has altered the country's power structure by granting a relatively moderate panel new authority to supervise an elected government increasingly dominated by religious hard-liners.

Khamenei expanded the authority of the Expediency Council, an appointive body whose longtime chairman, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is a fixture of Iranian politics and invariably described as wily insider. Rafsanjani lost last June's presidential election, but Khamenei's new decree, made public Oct. 1, gives Rafsanjani at least nominal supervision over the administration put in place by the winner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. [complete article]

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A central pillar of Iraq policy crumbling
By Tyler Marshall and Louise Roug, Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2005

Senior U.S. officials have begun to question a key presumption of American strategy in Iraq: that establishing democracy there can erode and ultimately eradicate the insurgency gripping the country.

The expectation that political progress would bring stability has been fundamental to the Bush administration's approach to rebuilding Iraq, as well as a central theme of White House rhetoric to convince the American public that its policy in Iraq remains on course.

But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.

Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency. [complete article]

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Bush plan shows U.S. is not ready for deadly flu
By Gardiner Harris, New York Times, October 8, 2005

A plan developed by the Bush administration to deal with any possible outbreak of pandemic flu shows that the United States is woefully unprepared for what could become the worst disaster in the nation's history.

A draft of the final plan, which has been years in the making and is expected to be released later this month, says a large outbreak that began in Asia would be likely, because of modern travel patterns, to reach the United States within "a few months or even weeks."

If such an outbreak occurred, hospitals would become overwhelmed, riots would engulf vaccination clinics, and even power and food would be in short supply, according to the plan, which was obtained by The New York Times.

The 381-page plan calls for quarantine and travel restrictions but concedes that such measures "are unlikely to delay introduction of pandemic disease into the U.S. by more than a month or two." [complete article]

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An American in chains
By James Yee, The Sunday Times, October 9, 2005

My cell was 8ft by 6ft, the same size as the detainees' cages at Guantanamo. Barely a week ago I had received a glowing evaluation for my work as the US army's Muslim chaplain among the "Gitmo" prisoners. Now I was the one in chains.

It was my turn to be humiliated every time I was taken to have a shower. Naked, I had to run my hands through my hair to show that I was not concealing a weapon in it. Then mouth open, tongue up, down, nothing inside. Right arm up, nothing in my armpit. Left arm up. Lift the right testicle, nothing hidden. Lift the left. Turn around, bend over, spread your buttocks, knowing a camera was displaying my naked image as male and female guards watched.

It didn't matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn't matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn't matter that I hadn't been charged with a crime. It didn't matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn't matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent. [complete article]

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Bargain sought on Iraqi charter a week ahead of historic vote
By Jonathan Finer and Robin Wright, Washington Post, October 9, 2005

One week before Iraqis vote on a constitution intended to remake their nation, U.S. and Arab diplomats are scrambling to broker last-minute concessions from Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish faction leaders that would persuade the Sunni Arab minority to drop its opposition to the proposed charter and defuse the country's Sunni-led insurgency.

Saudi Arabian and Jordanian officials, at the urging of U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, have called on Sunni politicians in Iraq to stick with negotiations until Monday, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. Iraqi lawmakers say Monday is the last possible date for bargaining over the language of the constitution, which will be put to voters next Saturday. Ballots are already being printed at a plant in Europe, and the first of millions of copies of the proposed constitution have been distributed across Iraq. [complete article]

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Iraqis vote on 'invisible' constitution
By Raymond Whitaker and Francis Elliott, The Independent, October 9, 2005

Millions of Iraqis are expected to go to the polls on Saturday to vote on a constitution they have never seen, as increasing violence and worsening communal tensions hamper distribution of the document.

American and Iraqi forces yesterday attacked targets in the western town of Haditha as they continued an offensive against fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. A separate operation is aimed at pacifying Kurdish cities in the north, while British forces in southern Iraq are seeking insurgents responsible for a series of sophisticated bombs that have killed six of their number since July and set off a war of words between Britain and Iran.

Although distribution of the constitution has begun in a few areas of Baghdad, many other parts of the capital and the rest of the country are unlikely to receive copies. The only ones available in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town, were brought from Baghdad by Sunni politicians urging a "no" vote. [complete article]

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The meaning of no
By Noah Feldman, New York Times, October 9, 2005

Casting a yes vote in next Saturday's constitutional referendum in Iraq would be easy to understand. Although the proposed document is too decentralizing for some tastes and too Islamic for others, those who choose to ratify it are clearly embracing democratic politics instead of violence. But what would it mean to vote no, as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis seem poised to do?

If enough no votes are cast in the right places, they will sink the constitution. Should two-thirds of the voters in 3 separate provinces (out of 18 in Iraq) check the no box, Iraqis would be sent back to the drawing board. The legislative elections planned for December would create a new national assembly, which would in turn be charged with redrafting the document. Such an outcome would demonstrate that the current proposal does not reflect the national consensus necessary for a constitution worthy of the name. Iraq's growing fragmentation would be made more visible, and the vexed question of whether the country can survive as a single, unified entity would loom large in the next round of elections and talks.

Many Sunnis will vote against the constitution, but few of them advocate a national breakup. To the contrary, one of their main objections is that the proposed text does too much to empower northern Kurds and southern Shiites at the expense of the largely Sunni center that once governed firmly from Baghdad. Yet rejection of the draft will inevitably be seen as a step toward national dissolution. This is one of the weird anomalies of an up-or-down referendum in a country on the brink of civil war. To vote no means increasing disorder and uncertainty - even if the reason for that vote is that the constitution does not create a government that would be strong or orderly enough. [complete article]

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Exploit rifts in the insurgency
By Fareed Zacharia, Newsweek, October 17, 2005

Amid all the problems in Iraq, I see one encouraging sign. Sunnis are organizing to defeat the referendum on Iraq's draft constitution. This is good news because it places the Sunnis in direct opposition to the jihadi insurgents in Iraq. The latter, headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have been threatening to kill anyone who votes. The vast majority of Sunni organizations in Iraq -- including several insurgent groups -- have called on Sunnis to mobilize and vote to defeat the constitution, which they view as anti-Sunni. This is the most important positive development in Iraq -- a growing split between the radical jihadists and the other insurgents, who are mostly Baathists. It provides the United States with an opportunity, even at this late date, for some success. Drive this split wider and isolate the jihadis. Or as the British motto goes, divide and conquer. [complete article]

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Constitution or divorce agreement?
By James Glanz, New York Times, October 9, 2005

If Iraq's draft constitution were an orchestral score, it would be one that let a majority vote of the woodwinds determine what key they ought to be playing in. The strings could overrule the conductor's time signature in their section of the pit. The brass and percussion sections could band together and play almost anything they wanted, although they could not secede from the orchestra.

The constitution, set to be approved or rejected by the Iraqi people in a referendum next Saturday, would allow provincial councils - the rough equivalent of statehouses - to cancel or change federal laws they did not like in all but a handful of narrowly defined areas, like drawing up foreign policy and defending Iraq's international borders.

Some constitutional authorities believe the chances are slim that this charter could keep all these disparate entities playing the same song. [complete article]

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Iraqi police 'linked to ethnic cleansing'
By Hala Jaber, The Sunday Times, October 9, 2005

The soulful sound of koranic recitals for the dead reverberated from 22 homes lining a narrow, dimly lit street in the old Baghdad neighbourhood of Iskan in the early hours of yesterday morning.

In one house after another, the soothing voices mingled with the sobs of wives, mothers and sisters over a hum of visitors' murmured condolences.

The walls of a small nearby mosque were draped with 22 black cloths on which the names of the husbands, sons and brothers being mourned will be inscribed in white paint, as is the custom in Iraq.

The grieving families in this predominantly Shi'ite district had collected their dead -- all Sunnis -- on Friday amid fury at the execution-style murders of the men and terror at the spread of sectarian killings in the run-up to this Saturday's referendum on a new constitution. [complete article]

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The small-time hood who became Iraq's Public Enemy No1
By Loretta Napoleoni, The Independent, October 9, 2005

Last week US forces in Iraq chose the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, to launch a new offensive along the Syrian border against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man they blame for most of the violence racking the country. But, as before, all they have succeeded in doing is bolstering his myth.

No one had heard of Zarqawi until Colin Powell, then US Secretary of State, named him in the February 2003 speech to the UN Security Council which prepared the world for war in Iraq. At that stage, the Jordanian was not recognised as a leader by al-Qa'ida. But, thanks to his relentless promotion as a bogeyman by the US - most recently by President George Bush last week - and his subsequent endorsement by Osama bin Laden, Zarqawi, 38, is now every bit as dangerous as he has always been portrayed. [complete article]

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The crisis of the Bush code
By David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, October 9, 2005

When Gov. George W. Bush of Texas hit the presidential campaign trail, he seldom brought up his view of abortion. But with conservative Christian crowds, he never missed an opportunity to praise "pregnancy crisis centers." Abortion opponents, knowing such centers steered women away from the procedures, cheered and took heart.

It was the beginning of a delicate balancing act that, until President Bush picked Harriet E. Miers for the Supreme Court last week, had enabled him to forge an unprecedented bond with social conservatives without unnerving more moderate voters. President Bush may have perfected it during the 2004 presidential debates. He said he would not appoint justices who would approve of the Dred Scott decision - the 19th-century fugitive slave case that abortion foes compare to Roe v. Wade - but also pledged not to make the abortion issue a "litmus test" for judicial nominees.

The nomination of Ms. Miers demonstrated the fragility of a coalition built in part on code. The administration relied on subtle clues about her evangelical faith and confidential conversations with influential conservative Christians to enlist grass-roots support for Ms. Miers.

Instead the Miers nomination has threatened to shatter the coalition that Mr. Bush and his adviser Karl Rove hoped would be the foundation of a durable Republican majority. Social conservatives say that Mr. Bush made them tacit promises to appoint justices who would rule their way on abortion and other social issues. They wanted a nominee with a clear record and Ms. Miers had none. [complete article]

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Mild about Harriet
By Evan Thomas And Jonathan Darman, Newsweek, October 17, 2005

Harriet Miers is George W. Bush's kind of woman. She works ceaselessly, around the clock if necessary. She is a tomb of discretion. And she never, ever, says anything that might in the slightest way be construed as critical of George W. Bush. Ed Kinkeade, a federal judge and an old friend, teased her about her accommodations at the president's ranch in Texas -- a trailer. Miers grew uncomfortable, recalls Kinkeade. "Now Ed, don't say that," she protested. "It's a manufactured home, and it's very nice."

Bush has long been surrounded by hard-laboring, ever-loyal women like Karen Hughes and Condoleezza Rice. He calls them "mother hens." Miers was Bush's personal lawyer, scrubbing his record as a political candidate and, as White House counsel, she has defended the president's prerogatives in the war on terror. Throughout her public career, she has been self-effacing to the point of invisibility. To Bush, however, she has apparently been an open book. "I know her. I know her heart. I know what she believes," said the president last week, after he nominated Miers to the United States Supreme Court. "I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today."

In other words: trust me. For a president under attack recently for staffing his government with hacks and cronies, the appointment of his personal lawyer -- who has never judged a day in her life -- to the nation's highest court showed a certain stubborn confidence in his own judgment. It may have been misplaced. [complete article]

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Dobson spiritual empire wields political clout
By Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe, October 9, 2005

The bullet hole just inside the headquarters of Focus on the Family is carefully preserved, a reminder of that 1996 day when a gunman held four employees hostage at the nerve center of James C. Dobson's evangelical empire. According to a sign near the bullet hole, the power of prayer helped end that standoff.

In those days, Dobson was known primarily as a folksy child psychologist, an avuncular figure with a popular radio show who used a heavy helping of Christian morality to flavor his advice on child-rearing.

Today, prayer is only part of what Dobson is dispersing through radio, books, and a panoply of other media as he takes his fight for family values from the shadow of Pikes Peak to the halls of Congress and the steps of the Supreme Court.

To Dobson, the stakes could not be higher.

"Two starkly contrasting worldviews predominate today's moral and cultural debate," Dobson said in an e-mail response to questions from The Boston Globe. "One side defends the traditional values that have made this nation great for more than 225 years; the other works to chisel away at that foundation."

Dobson stands in the vanguard of a crusade by evangelical Christians to place their agenda at the forefront of public debate over presidential and congressional elections, judicial appointments, gay marriage, and the "life issues" of abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem-cell research. Dobson, 69, is arguably the dominant ideologist of the movement. [complete article]

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'N.Y. Times' scooped again, this time on Miller's notes
Editor and Publisher, October 8, 2005

As the Plame/CIA leak case continues to unfold, The New York Times is maintaining its recent track record of getting scooped by others--many others--on critical developments in the legal twists and turns involving its own reporter, Judith Miller.

Last week, the paper was late in revealing that Miller had left jail. Thursday it was behind the curve in disclosing that the federal prosecutor in the Plame case had scheduled another meeting with Miller next week. And Friday, it was scooped by, first, the New York Observer (a weekly) and then Reuters, in reporting the rather significant news that Miller had somehow discovered notes of a conversation with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby that took place about two weeks before the discussions that were the focus of her testimony to the grand jury last week. This was significant enough, Reuters reports, that the newly-found notes could help form the basis for a wide-ranging conspiracy charge. [complete article]

Comment -- Perhaps E&P is being unfair. The essential requirement for success on the NYT staff appears to be a journalist's ability to repeat rather than report.

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Noteworthy articles from the last seven days:

Iraq slips away
Editorial, Washington Post, October 6, 2005

The sights, sounds and threat of violence are a constant in Baghdad
By Matthew Schofield, Knight Ridder, October 4, 2005

Don't know how to exit Iraq? Ask the Sunnis
By Robert Collier, Foreign Policy, October, 2005

How not to win the war on terror
By Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, Los Angeles Times, October 3, 2005

Can Hamas change course?
By Ilene R. Prusher, Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 2005

Generation jihad: Europe's homegrown militants
By Bill Powell, Time, October 3, 2005

Afghanistan: war in the shadows
By Tim McGirk, Time, October 3, 2005

No more illusions for Iraq - a very lose federation or violent disintegration?
By Scott Johnson, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Michael Hastings, Newsweek October 10, 2005

A face and a name: civilian victims of insurgent groups in Iraq
Human Rights Watch, October 3, 2005

No Israelis in Gaza. No jobs, either
By Abdallah Al Salmi, Washington Post, October 2, 2005

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EMAIL UPDATES -- Click here to sign up for weekly email updates -- a digest of key articles from the last seven days. (Please include your name in the message and put "subscribe" in the subject line.)

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