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You'll start a civil war in the streets (2 September 2003)

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  • Jim Galasyn
    Iraq Front News Subscribe: IraqFrontNews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com 2 September 2003 News roundup by Jim Galasyn ... ~ Bring Them Home ~
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2003
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      Bomb attack on Baghdad police station
       
      Two huge explosions were today heard in central Baghdad in what appeared to be a car bomb attack on a police station.
      Al-Jazeera reported that as many as 10 people were injured and many cars destroyed when the bombs went off in a park near the al-Rasafa police station.
       
      The explosions stared a large fire and sent a cloud of black smoke into the sky but the police station, near the interior ministry, was not seriously damaged.
       
      A local resident, Dia Kareem, however, told the Reuters news agency he saw two wounded policemen taken away.
       
      Iraq has seen a series of bomb attacks in the past few weeks. A car bomb in Najaf on Friday killed 125 people including the leading Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. The UN headquarters and Jordanian embassy in Baghdad have also been targets.
       
      US officials blame such attacks - and also those on occupying forces - on supporters of Saddam Hussein, still on the run nearly five months after he was deposed. But they have also made increasing mention of the presence of al-Qaida and other foreign fighters.
       
      Two US soldiers from a military police brigade were yesterday killed in a roadside bomb attack on their convoy in southern Baghdad.
       
      The deaths bring to 70 the number of American forces killed in Iraq since May 1 when the US president, George Bush, declared an end to major fighting.
       
      The son of Ayatollah Hakim, the assassinated Shia cleric, today warned that Iraq was entering a dangerous new period as hundreds of thousands of mourners converged on Najaf for the final stage of his father's funeral.
       
      "My believing brothers, the sons of Iraq, our injured Iraq is facing great and dangerous challenges in which one requires strength," the ayatollah's son, Mohammed Hussein Mohammed Said al-Hakim, said as the funeral procession made its way to the holy city.
       
      "I call on you to hold on to this unity and help each other ... [through this] new period," he said.
       
      Men clad in white robes and dark uniforms brandishing Kalashnikov rifles stood guard every five metres along the roof of Najaf's gold-domed Imam Ali shrine ahead of the funeral.
       
      The procession started in Baghdad on Sunday and wove its way through Hilla and the second holiest city of Kerbala before entering Najaf for the ceremony.
       
      Two Arabic television channels last night broadcast what they said was a recorded message from Saddam, denying responsibility for the Najaf bombing.
       
      "Many of you may have heard the snakes hissing, the servants of the invaders, occupiers, infidels, and how they have managed to accuse the followers of Saddam Hussein of responsibility for the attack on al-Hakim without any evidence," said the message, which was broadcast on al-Jazeera and the Lebanese channel LBC. "This is not what Saddam attributes to himself."
       

       
      A suspected car bomb has exploded outside the police headquarters in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing one Iraqi police officer and injuring about fourteen other officers and civilians.
       
      The building houses the office of US-appointed Baghdad police chief Hassan Ali, who was not there at the time, and is next to the interior ministry and police academy.
       
      Correspondents say the latest violence heightens the climate of insecurity in the country caused by a spate of devastating car bomb attacks, general lawlessness and almost daily assaults on coalition forces.
       
      Reports said the building was not extensively damaged although some cars went up in flames.
       
      It has also been disclosed that two US military police officers were killed and one wounded on Monday when their vehicle hit an explosive device on a road in southern Baghdad.

      Witnesses say a large explosion rocked the Rasafa district of the city shortly after 1100 (0700 GMT), igniting a large fire and sending black smoke billowing into the sky.
       
      Lieutenant Khaled told French news agency AFP that the car exploded in the police station's parking compound for stolen vehicles.
       
      "It was a car bomb. Thank God, no one has died. There are only wounded," said the station's forensics chief, Najim Mona.
       
      The BBC's Peter Biles in Baghdad says that a new Iraqi police force is being trained up but there is still enormous insecurity in the country.
       
      Suspicion for the attacks is likely to fall on remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, says our correspondent.
       
      Earlier, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) announced the death of two US military police officers in a bomb attack on Monday.
       
      "The two officers were killed and one wounded when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device on a main supply route south of Baghdad," said a spokeswoman.
       
      The injured officer was evacuated for treatment, she said.
       
      The latest deaths bring to at least 67 the number of US soldiers killed in guerrilla-style attacks in Iraq since major combat was declared over on 1 May.
       
      There have been a series of bomb attacks on targets in Iraq in the past few weeks - including a mosque in Najaf, the UN headquarters and Jordanian embassy in Baghdad.
       
      The latest explosion comes as Shia Muslims gather in Najaf for the final day of mourning for Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, who died along with 80 others in the Najaf blast on Friday.
       


      BAGHDAD (AFP) - An American soldier was killed and another injured in a helicopter accident near Baghdad.
       
      "One 1st Armoured Division soldier was killed and one other was injured in a non-hostile UH-60 helicopter accident early Tuesday morning," an army statement said Tuesday.

      "The accident occurred at Camp Dogwood at 12:30 am (2030 GMT Monday)," it added. The camp is about an hour's drive south of Baghdad, a spokeswoman said.

      The army said earlier Tuesday that two US military police officers had been killed and one wounded in a bomb attack in the Iraqi capital on Monday.

      The helicopter accident takes to 79 the number of US soldiers who have have died in accidents or other circumstances unrelated to combat in Iraq since President George W. Bush declared major operations over on May 1.

      A further 67 have been killed in guerrilla attacks.
       

      Number of Wounded in Action on Rise
      Iraq Toll Reflects Medical Advances, Resistance Troops Face
      By Vernon Loeb
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12096-2003Sep1.html

      U.S. battlefield casualties in Iraq are increasing dramatically in the face of continued attacks by remnants of Saddam Hussein's military and other forces, with almost 10 American troops a day now being officially declared "wounded in action."

      The number of those wounded in action, which totals 1,124 since the war began in March, has grown so large, and attacks have become so commonplace, that U.S. Central Command usually issues news releases listing injuries only when the attacks kill one or more troops. The result is that many injuries go unreported.
       
      The rising number and quickening pace of soldiers being wounded on the battlefield have been overshadowed by the number of troops killed since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations May 1. But alongside those Americans killed in action, an even greater toll of battlefield wounded continues unabated, with an increasing number being injured through small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, remote-controlled mines and what the Pentagon refers to as "improvised explosive devices."
       
      Indeed, the number of troops wounded in action in Iraq is now more than twice that of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The total increased more than 35 percent in August -- with an average of almost 10 troops a day injured last month.

      Fifty-five Americans were wounded in action last week alone, pushing the number of troops wounded in action since May 1 beyond the number wounded during peak fighting. From March 19 to April 30, 550 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq. Since May 1, the number totals 574. The number of troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of May already has surpassed the total killed during the height of the war.
       
      Pentagon officials point to advances in military medicine as one of the reasons behind the large number of wounded soldiers; many lives are being saved on the battlefield that in past conflicts would have been lost. But the rising number of casualties also reflects the resistance that U.S. forces continue to meet nearly five months after Hussein was ousted from power.
       
      Although Central Command keeps a running total of the wounded, it releases the number only when asked -- making the combat injuries of U.S. troops in Iraq one of the untold stories of the war.
       
      With no fanfare and almost no public notice, giant C-17 transport jets arrive virtually every night at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, on medical evacuation missions. Since the war began, more than 6,000 service members have been flown back to the United States. The number includes the 1,124 wounded in action, 301 who received non-hostile injuries in vehicle accidents and other mishaps, and thousands who became physically or mentally ill.
       
      "Our nation doesn't know that," said Susan Brewer, president and founder of America's Heroes of Freedom, a nonprofit organization that collects clothing and other personal items for the returning troops. "Sort of out of sight and out of mind."
       
      On Thursday night, a C-17 arrived at Andrews with 44 patients from Iraq. Ambulances arrived to take the most seriously wounded to the nation's two premier military hospitals, Water Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. Dozens of others stayed overnight at what the Air Force calls a contingency aeromedical staging facility, which has taken over an indoor tennis club and an adjacent community center.
       
      On Friday morning, smaller C-130 transports began arriving to take the walking wounded and less seriously injured to their home bases, from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to Fort Lewis in Washington state. Another C-17 was due in Friday night from Germany, with 12 patients on stretchers, 24 listed on the flight manifest as ambulatory and nine other passengers, either family members or escorts.
       
      "That's going to fill us right back up by the end of today," said Lt. Col. Allen Delaney, who commands the staging center. Eighty-six members of his reserve unit, the 459th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, based at Andrews, were called up for a year in April to run what is essentially a medical air terminal, the nation's hub, for war wounded from Iraq.
       
      At Walter Reed, a half-hour drive from Andrews, Maj. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the hospital's commanding general, said there were only two days in July and four in August that the hospital did not admit soldiers injured in Iraq.
       
      "The orthopedic surgeons are very busy, and the nursing services are very busy, both in the intensive care units and on the wards," he said, explaining that there have been five or six instances in recent months when all of the hospital's 40 intensive care beds have been filled -- mostly with battlefield wounded.
       
      Kiley said rocket-propelled grenades and mines can wound multiple troops at a time and cause "the kind of amputating damage that you don't necessarily see with a bullet wound to the arm or leg."
       
      The result has been large numbers of troops coming back to Walter Reed and National Naval Medical with serious blast wounds and arms and legs that have been amputated, either in Iraq or at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where virtually all battlefield casualties are treated and stabilized.
       
      "A few of us started volunteering [at Walter Reed] as amputees in 1991, and this is the most we've seen ever," said Jim Mayer, a double amputee from the Vietnam War who works at the Veterans Administration. "I've never seen anything like this. But I haven't seen anybody not get good care."
       
      Kiley said that Walter Reed has 600 physicians and 350 physicians in training, plus reservists and the ability to bring in more nurses if necessary. The hospital "could go on from an operational perspective indefinitely -- we have a lot of capacity," he said. The hospital has treated 1,100 patients from the war, including 228 battlefield casualties.
       
      National Naval Medical Center was most severely stressed during the major combat phase of the war, said Capt. Michael J. Krentz, its deputy commander. During that period, 800 of the hospital's medical professionals -- a third of its regular staff and half its military staff -- deployed overseas to the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship. The hospital called up 600 reservists to replace them.
       
      Before the fall of Baghdad in April, the hospital had 40 patients a night -- mostly Marines -- from Iraq. Now the number is down to three, since the Marines have begun departing and will soon hand peacekeeping duties in their area south of Baghdad to multinational forces.
       
      "Taking care of returning casualties is our number one job -- that's why we're here," Krentz said. "That's our sworn duty, and it's our honor to do so."
       
      Kiley and Krentz said high-tech body armor and state-of-the-art battlefield medical procedures are keeping more seriously wounded soldiers alive than ever before.
       
      Krentz said advanced radiological equipment aboard the Comfort enabled doctors to spot internal injuries and operate much sooner than they might have otherwise been able to, preventing fatalities. In fact, he said, patients had been stabilized so well overseas that there were no deaths of returning service members at Bethesda.
       
      Kiley said he had seen several cases in which soldiers had been operated on in the field so quickly that doctors managed to save limbs that might otherwise have been lost. "But it's a long haul even when they do preserve limbs," he said.
       

      Evidence reveals Iraq attacks more sophisticated
      Reporter: Rafael Epstein

      LINDA MOTTRAM: It is still early days for investigators trying to piece together who was responsible for the Najaf bombing, but even before the devastating blasts, there was already evidence that attacks in Iraq are getting more sophisticated.
       
      That evidence has grown with the revelation of details of recent attacks on Coalition forces listed in an internal United Nations Security report published on the day of the Najaf attack and obtained by AM.
       
      It says eight sectors of Baghdad had sustained at least two attacks on Coalition soldiers within 24 hours, while in three other zones, that had been the level of attack for three weeks.
       
      AM has also obtained an email from within the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, contrasting the luxurious life at headquarters with the conditions for soldiers in the field, and recording that Iraqis are being kept away from serious decision making.
       
      Rafael Epstein reports.
       
      RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The UN's security office says the report is for internal use only.
       
      It says Iraqis are now not only attacking soft targets, like humvee jeeps and petrol tankers, they're taking on tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and they're even doing it at night, when US soldiers are equipped with night vision goggles.
       
      Such boldness worries Pat Lang – he was the Pentagon's global spy chief and helped train people around the world to fight similar insurgencies.
       
      PAT LANG: You know, when you put all that together what you've got is a reasonably sophisticated description of how an ambush of that size, with the available weaponry, ought to be conducted. That's pretty much how I'd do it – I don't think I'd go up against tanks if I could avoid it. But the rest of that sounds pretty reasonable to me.
       
      RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Pat Lang says the fact the attackers now regularly retreat under cover of well aimed mortar fire indicates a new level of sophistication and worry for the US.
       
      PAT LANG: Well if you read down through the body of the rest of that report, they list all these incidents. And if you brought them out on a map, and I believe there were actually a couple of diagrams in that report that showed the distribution, you've got these attacks all over the area from just south of Baghdad all the way up to Mosul and pretty far over in the west beyond Fallujah – this is you know, about a third of the country, that's a bad thing, you know. I mean, it shows that this is not going away at all, in fact it's getting worse.
       
      When American authorities say they don't want any more troops there, that gives me pause because you need to saturate the country with troops in order to put a stop to this.
       
      RAFAEL EPSTEIN: As those frontline soldiers struggle with the occupation, the Coalition's Provisional Authority Headquarters has its own worries: running out of Coca-Cola.
       
      AM has been sent an email from a soldier based at the al-Rasheed Hotel. He complains that those running Iraq are more concerned with "hooking up with nice-looking gals from US and Iraq". He says for staff at the headquarters, their biggest problem is running out of Coke and Diet Coke to go with their steak and crab leg dinner.
       
      The occupation now costs around US$4-billion a month, and Paul Bremer, the man running the provisional authority, admits Iraq will need several tens of billions of dollars in aid next year.
       
      The email says the soldiers fighting "look like hobo's and live like pigs", while those within the Mr Bremer's authority have created a sterile ivory castle that distorts their view of the country.
       
      At the end he says "there's no Iraqi representation at the levels making decisions on Iraq's future. The message we are sending is pretty confusing to the Iraqis. Their provisional government even has to come to Saddam's old palace for meetings. Go figure."
       
      LINDA MOTTRAM: Rafael Epstein reporting.
       

      Accidents kill many U.S. soldiers in Iraq
      LISA HOFFMAN
      http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_2938.shtml
       
      On the highway between Tikrit, Iraq, and his base in Balad last week, Army Spec. Ronald Allen was changing a tire on his vehicle. Suddenly, an Iraqi driver lost control of his car and slammed into the young American soldier, who died later at a combat hospital.
       
      Last month, Marine Lance Cpl. Cory Guerin, fell 60-feet to his death while on guard duty atop the roof of a former presidential palace near Hillah. Army Spec. Rasheed Sahib died when another soldier's rifle went off accidentally, slamming a bullet into his chest.
       
      And in one week in May, three U.S. Marines perished when unexploded Iraqi bombs and ammunition they were moving suddenly detonated.
       
      In the war in Iraq, GIs have been nearly as likely to die in an accident as from an enemy act, according to a Scripps Howard News Service computer analysis.
       
      Since the war began in March, 145 troops have died in hostile combat circumstances. Those include ambushes, sniper attacks and bombings.
       
      Over the same span, 115 have died from accidents. And more than half of those deaths _ 59 _ have occurred since May 1, when President Bush declared the combat phase of the U.S. mission in Iraq essentially over.
       
      (The remaining 23 of the overall 283 U.S. fatalities came mostly from medical causes, suicide and homicide.)
       
      Other findings:
       
      By far, motor vehicle accidents are the most prevalent, claiming 46 American lives. One of those soldiers was run over by a tank while he was sleeping, three perished when their truck fell into a ravine, one died when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle plunged over a cliff and at least seven were killed in vehicle rollovers.
       
      Next most common were accidents involving explosives and weapons, which have caused 27 fatalities. Those included a soldier killed when a ricocheting bullet at a small-arms training range in Iraq triggered a fire, another who died when his rifle discharged as he was putting it away and two killed when a munitions bunker caught fire and exploded.
       
      Warplane or helicopter accidents account for 23 deaths, virtually all of which happened during the intense combat phase of the war, even though many of the mishaps did not occur in battle. That marks an improvement over the aviation toll in the first Persian Gulf War in 1990-91, when at least 38 died that way.
       
      At least seven troops have drowned in canals or rivers. One was electrocuted. And at least another eight have perished in "friendly fire" incidents, such as the April 2 accidental downing of a Navy FA-18C fighter by a U.S. Patriot missile, and the death two weeks later of a Marine corporal shot by American gunners who mistook him for an enemy soldier.
      Military experts say it is not surprising that accidents are taking a high toll. In the six-month buildup to the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 and in the lightning quick combat that followed, about 60 percent of the 383 troops killed in that conflict died in mishaps.
       
      Even though the combat phase of the current war ended 17 weeks ago, the conditions the 140,000 American troops now are facing can be conducive to accidents. The GIs are working hard -- sometimes a dozen hours a day, seven days a week -- in temperatures that reach 140 degrees.
       
      They're often handling dangerous materials and traversing rough roads filled with unpredictable Iraqi drivers in poorly maintained vehicles. And, all the while, they're under the mind-occupying stress that comes with being on constant guard against those who would do them ill.
       
      Even when they're not in a combat zone, soldiers die in accidents. The nature of much of what they do, particularly during training exercises, carries risks. On Aug. 12, for instance, a military transport plane on a maintenance test flight in South Korea crashed, killing the two troops aboard.
       
      In Beaufort, S. Car. a few days later, a Marine corporal was electrocuted when he was testing a 1,000-watt floodlight at the air station there. In Bosnia, an Army National Guard soldier died July 29 when a driver of an oncoming truck lost control and its trailer struck the Humvee the soldier was driving on peacekeeping duty.
       
      In mid-May, concerned about the U.S. military's rising accident toll around the world, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a directive for the four services to cut their accident rate by 50 percent over the next two years.
       
      "World-class organizations do not tolerate preventable accidents," Rumsfeld said.
       
      And the military is bracing for even more accidental deaths when troops now in Iraq come home. Off-duty mishaps usually increase among newly returned troops who can be accident-prone because of fatigue or too much celebrating.
       
      In its computer analysis of the 283 U.S. military deaths suffered so far during the war, Scripps Howard relied on Pentagon and U.S. Central Command descriptions along with accounts in hometown newspapers and other sources.
       
      Scripps' analysis uses a narrower definition of deaths by hostile action than the Defense Department, which, for instance, includes vehicle accidents that "occur in a combat environment," even if war conditions are only an indirect cause of the mishap. In Scripps' study, however, only those deaths directly caused by enemy attack are classified as hostile.
       

      Britons want UK forces out of Iraq
      http://uk.news.yahoo.com/030901/80/e79zg.html
       
      LONDON (Reuters) - More than 60 percent of Britons believe their government should be withdrawing its troops from Iraq, an opinion poll shows.
       
      A poll for the Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper and television show GMTV asking when British forces should be withdrawn from Iraq, found 29 percent of respondents wanted troops pulled out as soon as possible and 32 percent called for a phased withdrawal, with a final date set for the last soldier to leave.
       
      Prime Minister Tony Blair's embattled government has been put under a harsh spotlight by a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide of Iraq weapons expert Dr David Kelly and public displeasure at the growing number of British servicemen killed in an unstable postwar Iraq.
       
      Last week gunmen killed a British soldier in southern Iraq, bringing to 11 the number of British soldiers killed since May 1, when U.S. President George W. Bush declared that major combat in the U.S.-led war which ousted Saddam Hussein was over.
       
      There was more bad news for Blair in the poll, which said the greatest number of respondents held him responsible for Kelly's death compared with other people or organisations mentioned in the press.
       
      The prime minister was blamed by 21 percent of respondents, compared with 15 percent who said Kelly was responsible, seven percent who believed the Ministry of Defence primarily responsible and six percent who pointed the finger the BBC.
       
      The poll was conducted after Blair gave evidence to the Hutton inquiry last week. The paper did not say how many people it had polled.   
       

      ~ Fool Me Once ~
       
      Expert: UK Scientist's Death Due to Public Outing
      By Mike Peacock
       
      LONDON (Reuters) - A British arms expert whose death has plunged Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s government into crisis was probably driven to suicide by public exposure and feelings his superiors had lost faith in him, a judicial inquiry heard Tuesday.
       
      Psychiatric expert Keith Hawton told the inquiry into the death of David Kelly, an expert on Iraqi weapons, that the scientist could have taken his ordeal as a form of public disgrace, leading to a sense of profound hopelessness.
       
      Kelly, who worked for the Ministry of Defense, killed himself in July after being exposed as the source for a BBC report that said the government exaggerated the case for invading Iraq (news - web sites).
       
      Earlier Tuesday, Kelly's doctor said the scientist had never shown signs of depression and a government health check less than two weeks before his death found nothing worrying -- suggesting his harrowing final days had a crucial bearing.
       
      The Blair government's public trust ratings have withered over Kelly's treatment and the failure to find banned weapons in Iraq -- the main reason the prime minister gave to justify a war that most Britons opposed.
       
      Blair's team has battled to make the BBC, Britain's public broadcaster, back off its report. Critics say the mild-mannered weapons expert, 59, became a political football in the process.
       
      "I think...the major factor was the severe loss of self esteem resulting from his feeling that people had lost trust in him and his dismay at being exposed to the media," Hawton said.
       
      "In a sense, I think he would have seen it as being publicly disgraced."
       
      Hawton dismissed conspiracy theories that Kelly may not have died by his own hand, saying the wounds on his body, the absence of signs of struggle and the fact he had taken a potentially dangerous drug, Coproxamol, all strongly pointed to suicide.
       
      Louise Holmes, a civilian who helped search for the missing Kelly on July 18, told the inquiry under judge Lord Hutton how her dog found his body underneath a tree in a copse.
       
      "He was at the base of the tree with his head and shoulders just slumped back against the tree," she said. "His left arm had a lot of blood on it and was bent back in a funny position."
       
      Andrew Franklin, a police officer called to the scene, said there was more blood around the body. "There was no sign of an obvious struggle," he said.
       
      Kelly killed himself after being publicly named and made to testify to a parliamentary committee. He had also received two grillings by his government employers about his contacts with a BBC reporter.
       
      His family doctor of 25 years, Malcolm Warner, said Kelly had never shown symptoms of depression and a Ministry of Defense health check on July 8 had thrown up nothing significant.
       
      Hawton concluded Kelly decided to take his life at a very late stage.
       
      "It is likely that he would have begun to perceive...that the difficulties for him were escalating," Hawton said. "One might conjecture that he began to fear that he would lose his job altogether."
       
      Monday, Kelly's widow Janice told the inquiry her husband felt betrayed by the Ministry of Defense in the weeks before his death.
       
      She said Kelly had been assured by senior ministry officials that his name would not be made public. Days later, however, the ministry press office confirmed his name to journalists.
       
      British media have suggested Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon could lose his job over the affair, although he has said he had little or nothing to do with Kelly's handling.
       

      Dr David Kelly
      Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has cast fresh doubt on whether weapons of mass destruction would be discovered by British and US forces in Iraq.
       
      He admitted that he could not be certain what would be found by the Iraq Survey Group, which is leading the hunt for Saddam Hussein's banned chemical and biological warfare programmes.
       
      "I can't say precisely what will be discovered. No one can say that," he told BBC1's Breakfast with Frost programme.
       
      His comments came as the Government was facing intense pressure from the Hutton Inquiry's investigation into the death of the Ministry of Defence weapons expert Dr David Kelly.
       
      Dr Kelly apparently committed suicide after being identified as the source of a BBC report claiming the Government's Iraqi weapons dossier was "sexed up" against the wishes of the intelligence agencies to strengthen the case for war.
       
      Mr Straw said that he still believed that military action had been necessary in the light of Saddam's past record of defiance of the United Nations and the unanswered questions about his weapons programmes.
       
      "What I can say with absolute certainty is that the decision to go to war, which the House of Commons made by a large majority, was justified," he said.
       
      Mr Straw said security in Iraq would have to be reviewed following the massive car bomb attack in the Muslim holy city of Najaf, which killed at least 85 people, including the moderate Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.
       
      He said the killings were "absolutely terrible" but denied that the US-UK coalition was losing control.
       
      "It is not losing its grip. The truth is that August has been a very bad month for the security situation across Iraq. It is very frustrating for everybody involved," he said.
       

      Dog handler found scientist's body slumped against tree
      Suicide expert says 'little doubt' that David Kelly took his own life
      http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=439516

      A woman and her dog, helping a police search team, told today how she found the body of weapons expert David Kelly slumped against a tree in woods near his Oxfordshire home.
       
      Louise Holmes told the Hutton Inquiry investigating Dr Kelly's death that her dog Brock picked up a scent 200 yards into the woods and then barked to alert her to something he had found.
       
      She said: "I could see a body slumped against the bottom of a tree."
       
      Ms Holmes said she stood "within a few feet of the body".
       
      She continued: "He was at the base of the tree with almost his head on his shoulders, just slumped back against the tree.
       
      "His legs were straight in front of him, his right arm was to the side of him, his left arm had a lot of blood on it and was bent back in a funny position."
       
      Asked if there were any signs of the route Dr Kelly had taken through the trees, she replied: "Not that I remember seeing."
       
      Earlier, Ms Holmes, a trainer with the charity Hearing Dogs For Deaf People, who is also a member of a search and rescue team in Oxfordshire, said when she began her search at 8am on July 18 - the day after Dr Kelly went missing - she did not know who the weapons expert was.
       
      Professor Keith Hawton, Director of the Centre for Suicide Research at Oxford University, told the inquiry that he had little doubt Dr Kelly had taken his own life.

      Professor Hawton stated: "I think that taking all the evidence together, it is well nigh certain that he had committed suicide."

      Asked by James Dingemans QC, counsel to the inquiry, how he came to that conclusion, he said: "Firstly the site in which the death occurred. I heard it had occurred in an isolated spot on Harrowdown Hill. In fact, it was in woodlands about 40 to 50 yards off the track taken by ramblers.

      "The site is well protected from the view of other people. It struck me as a very peaceful and rather beautiful spot in an area that was a favourite walk of Dr Kelly and his family."

      Professor Hawton said Dr Kelly's injuries were consistent with self cutting but he asked not to go into detail.

      He said that Dr Kelly had removed his glasses and had also taken off his watch, which suggested better access to carry out the suicide.

      He said he had read the toxicology report on Dr Kelly and it appeared the government scientist had consumed well in excess of the "therapeutic" dose of Co-proxamol.

      There was no sign of struggle so he had concluded that Dr Kelly had cut his wrist with his own knife that he had taken from his drawer.
       
      Prof Hawton said he believed the two key factors in Dr Kelly's death were that he thought he had been publicly disgraced so he might not be able to continue to work, and that he was unable to share his feelings.

      He said Dr Kelly might have thought he was going to lose his job because of a letter from the Ministry of Defence warning of disciplinary proceedings, and Parliamentary questions about his dealings with the media.

      "I think that would have filled him with a profound sense of hopelessness - in a sense, his life's work had been not wasted but totally undermined."
       
      The inquiry at the High Court in London also heard from Dr Kelly's neighbour Ruth Absolom, who met the scientist as she was walking her dog the day he disappeared, and who is assumed to be the last person to see him alive.
       
      She described her final meeting with her neighbour, saying she had taken her dog Buster for a walk at about 3pm on 17 July.
       
      She said she had met Dr Kelly shortly afterwards in Longworth, the next village along from their homes in Southmoor.
       
      Asked how he was dressed she said: "Normally, I didn't take that much notice.
       
      "He had obviously got a jacket on but whether it was a suit or an odd jacket and trousers I have no idea."
       
      She described the meeting saying: "We just stopped and said hello, had a chat.
       
      "He said 'Hello Ruth'. I said 'Hello David, how are things?'
       
      "He said 'Not too bad'.
       
      "We stood there for a few moments and then Buster, my dog, was pulling on the lead, he wanted to get going. I said 'I will have to go, David'. He said 'See you again, then, Ruth'. And that was it, we parted."
       
      Asked how the scientist had seemed, she said: "Just his normal self, no different to any other time when I met him."
       
      She said she did not remember if he was carrying any items. A knife and a bottle of painkillers were found by police near Dr Kelly's body.
       
      The scientist's family doctor Malcolm Warner told the inquiry he had not prescribed any painkillers for Dr Kelly and had last treated him in 1999 for "a minor complaint" and had never treated him for any serious condition.
       
      Dr Warner said nothing significant was found in a medical check Dr Kelly had received through his work on 8 July.

      PAPER: DANGEROUSLY HIGH LEVELS OF RADIATION MEASURED AROUND BAGHDAD
      Drudge Report
      Mon Sep 01 2003 15:05:42 ET
      EXPRESS [LONDON] http://www.express.co.uk/
       
      SOLDIERS and civilians in Iraq face a health timebomb after dangerously high levels of radiation were measured around Baghdad.
       
      Levels between 1,000 and 1,900 times higher than normal were recorded at four sites around the Iraqi capital where depleted uranium (DU) munitions have been used across wide areas.
       
      Experts estimate that Britain and the US used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armour-piercing shells made of DU during attacks on Iraqi forces.
       
      That figure eclipses the 375tons used in the 1991 Gulf War. Unlike that largely desert-based conflict, most of the rounds fired in March and April were in heavily residential areas.
       
      DU rounds are highly combustible and tiny particles of the radioactive material are left on the battleground.
       
      If inhaled the material can attack the body causing cancers, chronic illness, long-term disabilities and genetic birth defects - none of which will be apparent for at least five years.
       
      Veterans of the first Gulf War believe that DU exposure has played a role in leaving more than 5,000 of them chronically ill and almost 600 dead.
       
      The Royal Society, Britain's leading scientific body, described America's failure to confirm how much or where they used DU rounds as an "appalling situation".
       
      Professor Brian Spratt, chairman of the society's working group on DU, said: "The Americans are really giving us no information at all and think it is a pretty appalling situation that they are not taking this seriously at all.
       
      "We really need someone like the UN Environment Programme or the World Health Organisation to get into Iraq and start testing civilians and soldiers for uranium exposure."
       
      Evidence of massive uranium radiation has emerged in recent weeks. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle analysed swabs from bullet holes in Iraqi tanks and confirmed elevated radiation levels.
       
      Last month Scott Peterson, of the respected Christian Science Monitor, took Geiger counter readings at several sites in Baghdad. Near the Republican Palace, his radiation readings were the "hottest" in Iraq at nearly 1,900 times background radiation levels.
       
      Even the Ministry of Defence, which has consistently refused to accept there are dangers involved in DU exposure or that it has played role in Gulf War illnesses is addressing the problem. Soldiers returning from this year's conflict will be routinely tested for uranium poisoning. Professor Malcolm Hooper, who sits on two committees advising the Government on Gulf health issues, said he is not surprised by the radiation levels.
       
      He said: "Really these things are dirty bombs. Exactly the sort of device that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair keep talking about being in the hands of terrorists."
       
      Dozens of US soldiers, backed by armoured vehicles and helicopter gunships, searched farms on the outskirts of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday in their hunt for followers of Saddam Hussein.
       
      THOUSANDS of Iraqis packed into northern Baghdad yesterday for the funeral of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, a Shi'ite Muslim cleric slain by a car bomb which also killed scores of his followers.
       
      A senior official in Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said the Americans bore some blame for Friday's attack as they had failed to ensure adequate security measures.
       
      Up to five suspects, all of them Iraqi, have been detained over the car bomb attack, the local governor said yesterday.
       

      Ousted Army Chief Blasts Bush Iraq Policy
      By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
       
      WASHINGTON - Thomas E. White, forced to resign as Army secretary in May, has fired back in a book that describes the Bush administration's postwar effort in Iraq (news - web sites) as "anemic" and "totally inadequate."
       
      The book, which presents a blueprint for revitalizing Iraq, asserts that the administration underestimated the difficulty of putting that country back on its feet after the fall of Saddam Hussein).
       
      "Clearly the view that the war to `liberate' Iraq would instantly produce a pro-United States citizenry ready for economic and political rebirth ignored the harsh realities on the ground," White wrote in a preface to "Reconstructing Eden," which is to be published Thursday.
       
      In a letter to news organizations announcing the book's release, White was even tougher on the administration. "Unbelievably, American lives are being lost daily," he wrote. White said the administration lacks a cohesive, integrated plan to stabilize and rebuild the country.
       
      "We did not conduct the war this way and we should not continue rebuilding the country in a haphazard manner," he wrote. "The result will be a financial disaster, more lives lost, chaos in Iraq and squandered American goodwill."
       
      White, who as a civilian service secretary was not in the military chain of command, served as Army secretary from May 2001 to May 2003. He clashed with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on a number of issues, including the service's plan for the Crusader artillery system, which Rumsfeld viewed as too heavy and cumbersome for the lighter, more agile Army he envisioned.
       
      A Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Cassella, said that as a matter of policy the department does not comment on books. He acknowledged that U.S. occupation authorities in Baghdad face severe problems with security in Iraq but believe they are on track toward success.
       
      In the book, White noted the postwar spasms of violence in Iraq.
       
      "It is quite clear in the immediate aftermath of hostilities that the plan for winning the peace is totally inadequate," he wrote.
       
      White wrote that the administration's Iraq policy "threatens to turn what was a major military victory into a potential humanitarian, political and economic disaster." The administration's "anemic attempts at nation building" will be viewed with disdain by other countries, he said.
       
      White is a co-author of the book with three associates of CountryWatch Inc., a Houston firm that describes itself as a provider of global information to businesses, schools and government organizations.
       
      The authors say U.S. troops ought to remain in Iraq until June 2005, and they estimate that by then the total cost of the war and the occupation would be about $150 billion, including money to revitalize the Iraqi oil industry.
       
      White submitted his resignation on April 25. Later it became known that Rumsfeld had forced the resignation. White left May 9; his replacement, James Roche, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.
       
      While saying there is still a chance to make a success of postwar Iraq, White wrote in his book that the record on U.S. efforts at rebuilding Afghanistan, which it invaded in October 2001, is "dismal."
       
      Afghanistan, he said, is experiencing a resurgence of Taliban influence and rule by warlords. He criticized "artificial caps" that the administration placed on U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, where about 9,600 American forces are now engaged in combat and stability operations.
       

      Slain Iraqi cleric slammed U.S. security policy

      CAIRO, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Speaking a day before he was killed by a car bomb in Iraq last week, an Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim cleric criticised U.S. forces for failing to prevent another bombing in the holy city of Najaf, an Egyptian paper reported.
       
      In an interview published in Egypt's semi-official al-Ahram newspaper on Sunday, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim said Iraq's U.S.-led administration had failed to heed warnings of an attack on Ayatollah Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, another Shi'ite cleric, who was hurt in a bomb attack on August 24.
       
      "They (the Americans) carry a large part of the responsibility because of their shortcomings in the realm of security and in protecting the holy places," Hakim said, blaming supporters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for the attack.
       
      "We told the Americans that their policy in Iraq was wrong and their dealing with the situation illogical," Hakim said in response to a question on the security situation in Iraq.
       
      Hakim, along with scores of his followers, was killed on Friday when a car bomb exploded outside a mosque in Najaf as worshippers were leaving prayers at the Imam Ali mosque, one of the most sacred sites in Shi'ite Islam.
       
      Hakim had advised Shi'ites, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million population, to pursue a policy of cautious cooperation with the country's U.S.-led occupying authorities.
       
      Many Shi'ites have blamed the attack, which hospital sources say killed at least 95 people, on supporters of Saddam. But some analysts have also suggested Shi'ites opposed to Hakim's moderate political positions could be to blame.
       
      Hakim, who headed the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said forces which he did not identify were trying to stir strife between Iraq's Shi'ites.
       
      "There are circles working to create an inter-Shi'ite conflict...These type of forces are trying to hurl the Shi'ites into conflict."
       
      Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, Hakim's uncle, was injured in a bomb attack on his office which killed three bodyguards. Some supporters blamed a rival cleric who has condemned the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.
       

      ~ Hearts and Minds ~
       
      Top Iraqi blasts U.S. occupation
      http://msnbc.com/news/960209.asp?0cv=CA01&cp1=1
       
      Iraq Front News
      2 September 2003
      News roundup by Jim Galasyn

      ~ Bring Them Home ~
      At massive funeral, brother of slain cleric demands exit
      of U.S. soldiers
       Image: Bombing Mohammed Barqir Al-hakim Funeral
       

      In a

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