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It's going to get much worse (4 May 2004)

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  • Jim Galasyn
    Iraq Front News Subscribe: IraqFrontNews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com 4 May 2004 News roundup by Jim Galasyn Tue May 4, 3:11 PM ET Lebanese women hold up copies
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2004
      4 May 2004
      News roundup by Jim Galasyn
      Lebanese women hold up copies of the released photos showing US troops humiliating Iraqi prisoners in Abu Gharib jail, a former dreaded torture camp under the ousted Saddam Hussein regime, during a protest against the abuse of coalition prisoners in Iraq, in front of the UN headquarters in Beirut.(AFP/Haitham Mussawi)
      Tue May 4, 3:11 PM ET
      Lebanese women hold up copies of the released photos showing US troops humiliating Iraqi prisoners in Abu Gharib jail, a former dreaded torture camp under the ousted Saddam Hussein
      regime, during a protest against the abuse of coalition prisoners in Iraq, in front of the UN headquarters in Beirut.(AFP/Haitham Mussawi) (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040504/photos_pl_afp/040504191152_qnjr695r_photo2)

      In this issue:

       ~ Bring Them Home ~
      U.S. Soldier Killed, Two Hurt in Iraq Attack
      Mon May 3, 2004 09:28 AM ET 

      BAGHDAD (Reuters) - One U.S. soldier was killed and two were wounded Monday when they came under small arms fire south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement.

      The statement said the soldiers, from the 1st Armored Division, were fired on while providing security at a weapons cache found in a raid the previous night.
      The latest fatality brings to 553 the number of U.S. troops killed in combat since the invasion of Iraq in March last year. top

      4 U.S. Troops Die in Iraq Humvee Accident
      By JASON KEYSER, Associated Press Writer
      BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shiite militiamen fired mortars at a U.S. base in Najaf and bombarded a municipal hall in a nearby city Tuesday, as U.S.-led forces sought to resolve the standoff with militants south of the capital.
      North of Baghdad, four U.S. soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division were killed after their Humvee overturned during a combat patrol north of Baghdad, the Army said.
      Sporadic overnight mortar attacks on the U.S. base in Najaf followed intense fighting Monday between American forces and militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. As many as 20 Iraqis were killed Monday. No coalition troops died.
      The U.S. military moved soldiers into the base last month after Spanish peacekeepers withdrew from Iraq.
      Al-Sadr's forces, which launched an uprising in April, have stepped up attacks in recent days. Their assaults seem aimed either to pressure U.S. officials to negotiate an end to the standoff or to goad troops into a heavy retaliation that would inflame Shiites.
      The military has been wary of sparking broader fighting. Al-Sadr's office is near Iraq's holiest Shiite shrine.

      Militants in Karbala shelled the city hall and police headquarters before daybreak. Both are guarded by Bulgarian soldiers; no casualties were reported.

      Near the northern city of Mosul, insurgents blasted a convoy of American soldiers with a homemade bomb, sending up shrapnel that slightly wounded three soldiers. Troops shot and killed two men who set off the bomb, the military said.

      A new Iraqi military force was patrolling Fallujah, taking over for Marines pulling back from the city, where U.S. forces have been battling Sunni insurgents.
      A senior Marine officer said the new Iraqi force, which was swiftly formed with U.S. backing and will eventually number up to 1,100 troops, is "meeting expectations" in bringing calm.
      A nearly monthlong siege left 10 Marines and several hundred Iraqis dead in the city west of Baghdad.
      Col. John Coleman, chief of staff for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said "there is a percentage of (the city) where normalcy has returned."

      Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif, who opposed former dictator Saddam Hussein, was preparing to take over as head of the new force, subject to a final background check.

      The U.S. move to have Abdul-Latif lead the Fallujah Brigade came amid complaints from some Iraqis that Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh, a former member of Saddam's Republican Guard, may have been involved in past repression by the ousted regime.
      Hoshyar Zibari, Iraq's Kurdish foreign minister, said there were reports Saleh was involved in crushing the 1991 uprising by Kurds.
      "The vetting was imperfect," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon. "There was enough question that the people again on the ground that a different individual, Gen. Latif, would be preferable and less risky."
      At a news conference, Abdul-Latif condemned the killing and mutilation of four American contractors in Fallujah on March 31, but said residents shouldn't bear collective blame.
      Marines laid siege to the city shortly after the burned bodies were dragged through the street and two corpses strung up from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
      "The people of Fallujah should take pride in the fact that that mutilation was condemned from every (mosque) pulpit," Abdul-Latif said. "The people of Fallujah do not share responsibility for this prohibited act."
      U.S. officials say the Fallujah Brigade will crack down on die-hard guerrillas even though the force itself will likely include some gunmen who had been involved in battling the Marines.
      Meanwhile, officials in Washington said Tuesday an expanded force of troops will stay in Iraq beyond June.
      U.S. military commanders will send 10,000 Army and Marine Corps troops for one-year tours, defense officials said.
      In addition, the Army planned to announce that about 37,000 National Guard and Reserve troops are getting called to active duty to support three National Guard combat brigades that will be sent to Iraq late this year or early in 2005, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
      There are about 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. That number was to have fallen to about 115,000 this spring, but a surge in anti-occupation violence caused Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, to bolster the force.
      The latest change of plans would leave the total at about 125,000 to 128,000 after June. top

      Explosion Rocks Western Baghdad
      Tue May 4, 2004 04:28 AM ET

      BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An explosion rocked the western suburb of Baghdad that is home to the controversial Abu Ghraib prison on Tuesday, a Reuters correspondent at the scene said.

      It was not clear what caused the blast, which was followed by a column of smoke in late morning.
      U.S. soldiers blocked the main western highway leading out of the capital near Abu Ghraib, about 3 miles east of the prison itself. U.S. military spokesmen said they were checking the cause of the blast.
      Abu Ghraib prison was notorious for its torture chambers under Saddam Hussein. U.S. soldiers now face charges for abusing detainees there. Seven of their officers and non-commissioned officers were disciplined, the military said on Monday. top

      Insurgents Pound U.S. Base in Najaf
      By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press Writers
      NAJAF, Iraq - Militiamen launched a barrage of mortar shells against a U.S. base in this holy city and government buildings guarded by Bulgarian forces in Karbala on Tuesday, a day after intense clashes in Najaf that killed up to 20 Iraqis.
      No coalition troops were killed in the violence, but four U.S. soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division died after their vehicle overturned during a combat patrol north of Baghdad, according to the Army.

      More Iraqis came forward to allege abuse at the hands of American interrogators as the scandal over treatment of prisoners continued. In Switzerland, the United Nations' human rights organization said it had opened an investigation into civil rights in Iraq and urged the U.S. military to prosecute soldiers alleged to have mistreated prisoners.
      A U.S. military official said American authorities have ordered a halt to using hoods to blindfold Iraqi prisoners in the wake of the uproar over detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
      U.S. artillery, meanwhile, shelled rebel positions late Monday after insurgents fired on aircraft near Baghdad airport. Four Iraqi insurgents were killed, the military said Tuesday.
      "Enemy attackers had engaged two aircraft providing close air support for a ground patrol with small arms fire," the command said in a written statement. "A coalition forces ground patrol engaged the enemy attackers and called in artillery support."

      Gunners from the Army's 1st Cavalry Division launched a series of rounds from 155 mm self-propelled Paladin artillery pieces, the military said.

      Sporadic overnight mortar attacks on the U.S. base in Najaf followed intense fighting on Monday between U.S. forces and militiamen loyal to radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
      The U.S. military moved soldiers to the base in the city last month after Spanish peacekeepers withdrew from Iraq.
      But the military has been cautious about returning fire. Al-Sadr's office is located only a few yards from one of the holiest Shiite shrines and not far from the U.S. base. U.S. officials repeatedly have accused militiamen of storing weapons in shrines and mosques.

      U.S. officers estimated that about 20 Iraqis may have been killed Monday by U.S. retaliatory fire. Five Iraqis were killed and 16 wounded, according to hospital officials.

      In Karbala, 50 miles north of Najaf, the city hall and the police headquarters, which are guarded by Bulgarian soldiers, also came under mortar fire before dawn Tuesday, Bulgarian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Rumyana Strugareva said.

      No casualties or damage were reported after that attack, which lasted about ten minutes.
      Al-Sadr's forces, which launched an uprising across southern Iraq in early April, have stepped up attacks in recent days — apparently either to pressure U.S. officials to negotiate an end to the standoff or to goad troops into retaliating and raising Shiite anger.
      In Baghdad, an Iraqi camera operator for Al-Jazeera television, Suhaib al-Baz, said he was mistreated during 74 days in U.S. custody after he was arrested in November for allegedly having prior information about an insurgent attack.

      "'You journalists might be respected by others but not me,'" al-Baz quoted an American interrogator as telling him. "He pushed me on a flat seat, kept the bag over my face while my hands were bound. He stepped on my knees with his boots."

      Al-Baz said that when he asked for permission to pray, "he hit me many times on my shoulder, knocked me against the wall and put his fingers on top of my eyes while pressing me against the wall."
      He said the interrogator told him to forget about his employer because "you will be sent to Guantanamo," referring to the U.S. detention center in Cuba.
      In Geneva, Switzerland, Jose Diaz, spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said a U.N. team was collecting information about alleged abuses from media reports, the U.S.-led coalition, foreign aid groups and Iraqi U.N. employees as part of an investigation into the claims.
      The United Nations withdrew its international staff from Iraq after the bombing of its offices in Baghdad in August, citing poor security.
      The decision to stop using hoods to blindfold prisoners came four days ago after widespread allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
      Instead of a hood, the detainees' eyes are covered by blindfolds or with goggles taped over with duct tape, he said.
      Also Tuesday, a senior Marine officer said the new Iraqi military force that is replacing U.S. troops in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, is "meeting expectations" in bringing calm to the city.
      An all-Iraqi force of up to 1,100 began moving into positions from withdrawing Marines last week as part of an agreement to restore order in the city, the site of a nearly monthlong siege that left 10 Marines and several hundred Iraqis dead.
      In another development, a former American hostage Thomas Hamill was pronounced "in generally good health," according to Maj. Kerry Jepsen, a surgeon treating him at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
      Hamill, 43, who escaped his captors Sunday in a daring run to freedom, was to be reunited with his wife later Tuesday.
      "I am very glad to be back on an American installation. I am looking forward to returning to America," he said. He urged Americans to "keep your thoughts and prayers with those who are still" in Iraq.
      Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif, who opposed Saddam Hussein, was preparing to take over as head of the new force in Fallujah, subject to a final background check. Abdul-Latif would replace another general who may have been involved in Saddam-era repression.
      At a brief news conference, Abdul-Latif condemned the brutal killing and mutilation of four American contractors in Fallujah last month, which triggered the siege. However, Abdul-Latif said the people of Fallujah collectively were not to blame.
      "The people of Fallujah should take pride in the fact that that mutilation was condemned from every (mosque) pulpit," he said. "The people of Fallujah do not share responsibility for this prohibited act."
      Abdul-Latif met Tuesday with former officers of Saddam's army at the headquarters of Iraqi security forces in Fallujah.
      Fallujah residents have been celebrating what many see as a victory over the U.S. Marines. Masked and armed insurgents have moved freely in the city's streets, sometimes standing alongside Iraqi policemen.
      U.S. officials say the Fallujah Brigade will crack down on hard-core guerrillas in the city even though the force itself will likely include some gunmen who had been involved in fighting against the Marines. top

      Pentagon Notifying 47,000 More US Troops They Will Be Dispatched to Iraq for One Year
      By Robert Burns The Associated Press
      Published: May 4, 2004
      WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon is notifying about 10,000 active-duty Army and Marine Corps troops and about 37,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers that they will be sent to Iraq this year as replacements for units that will have served there a year or longer, officials said Tuesday.
      The Army planned to announce the decision Tuesday afternoon, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
      About 5,000 Marines and a contingent of about 5,000 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y., will go this summer to relieve the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, whose soldiers were due to come home in April but were extended by three months.
      Pentagon officials had said in recent weeks that they were prepared to replace a portion or all of the 20,000 1st Armored and 2nd Cavalry soldiers who are on extended duty in Iraq if Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, believed they were needed.
      Abizaid and his subordinate commanders have used the 2nd Armored Cavalry and 1st Armored to deal with outbreaks of violence in and around the Shiite holy city of Najaf and elsewhere in central Iraq.
      At the moment there are about 138,000 U.S. forces in Iraq. That number was to have fallen to about 115,000 this spring, but a surge in anti-occupation violence caused Abizaid to bolster the force.
      The Army and Marine Corps are hard-pressed to find substantial additional troops for Iraq duty. Of the Army's 10 divisions, parts or all of nine are already deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
      The 10th Mountain Division has soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marine Corps has about 25,000 troops in Iraq, mainly in the western area including the restive city of Fallujah.
      Details about the 37,000 National Guard and Reserve troops who are being alerted for Iraq duty were not immediately available. They will provide support for the three National Guard combat brigades that were notified earlier this year that they will be going to Iraq for one-year tours late this year or early in 2005. A large proportion of the 37,000 are Army Reserve, one official said. top

      ~ Fool Me Once ~
      The body of an Iraqi prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice, is seen at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad in this undated photo. (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)    MANDATORY CREDIT
      Tue May 4, 3:25 PM ET   
      The body of an Iraqi prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice, is seen at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad in this undated photo. (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker) MANDATORY CREDIT (
      New Man in Falluja Pledges Peace; Past Unclear
      By Fadel Badran
      FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Dapper and earnest, the new Iraqi general in Falluja promised U.S. troops and the people of the rebellious Iraqi city a bright and peaceful future on Tuesday after a month-long siege that has left hundreds dead.
      The bloodshed was all a terrible misunderstanding sparked by outsiders, General Mohammed Latif said as his local men moved into the most violent district, joining U.S. Marines who charged him with leading a new Iraqi force to end the insurgency.
      He has a short time, Marines said, to rally local people and flush out foreign fighters, though his lack of a prominent career and local ties, compared to the former Republican Guard general he replaced, has left some people in the city doubtful.
      "The city is safe and, God willing, the smile has returned to the faces of Falluja's children," he said, as hundreds of expectant residents, some waving Saddam-era flags, gathered at a military headquarters that is now home to his Falluja Brigade.
      Latif spoke to reporters as he met Jasim Mohamed Saleh, the ex-general who briefly led the five-day-old Falluja Brigade. U.S. commanders, reacting in part to criticism of Saleh's record in Saddam's feared Republican Guard, turned to Latif Monday.
      The American preference for Latif is easy to spot, although the substance of their differences is harder to define.
      The white-haired Latif, in suit and tie, sat behind a desk, drawing thoughtfully on a cigarette. The finger-wagging Saleh, black-mustached and paunchy in his old olive-green uniform and beret, is the very image of the Baathist soldier he was.
      But that is just what makes many people in Falluja, a former Saddam stronghold, more comfortable with Saleh.
      Shi'ite Muslims and other groups oppressed by Saddam were furious when Saleh emerged late last week as leader of what the Marines called the Falluja Brigade, several hundred men charged with patrolling the western Sunni Muslim city of 300,000.
      Shi'ite leaders accused Saleh of taking part in the bloody suppression of their uprising in 1991, although fellow generals in Baghdad described him as respected professional.

      Latif remains something of a mystery. A senior U.S. military official said he had been exiled and possibly imprisoned under Saddam, making him a more suitable ally.
      One Iraqi source said he was among several ex-officers recently recruited by the new Iraqi Defense Ministry.
      Latif himself told Reuters he was an intelligence officer and trained at Sandhurst in England: "I've spent the last few years between here and London," he said, without elaborating.
      He said he hails from Adhamiya, a staunchly Sunni district of Baghdad that, like Falluja, was once very loyal to Saddam.
      "Latif has had a clean career as far as we can tell," said Haider al-Mousawi, an aide to former exile leader Ahmad Chalabi.
      Since the Brigade's patrols began there have been only sporadic exchanges of gunfire. Heavy fighting had killed some 750 in the city in the past month, local hospital staff said. For the first time Tuesday, Iraqi forces joined Marines at two strong points in the most battle-torn district, Golan.
      Marine commanders concede some of the Brigade may be drawn from the very people who fought them throughout April. But their priority is now to ensure calm returns to the city and foreigners, some with possible al Qaeda links, are rooted out.
      Latif accused foreign fighters of killing four U.S. contractors on March 31, prompting the siege.
      "Action and reaction were set in motion, the people of Falluja defended their city and many innocents perished."
      U.S. commanders say they want to find the contractors' killers and those who mutilated their bodies but say they and many foreign fighters may have fled.
      With Washington keen to staunch weeks of bloodshed before it hands formal sovereignty back to Iraqis on June 30, the result may be a pact with Latif to keep Falluja quiet without him delivering on U.S. demands for dead or captured guerrillas.

      Bush team takes hit on secret files
      By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff  |  May 4, 2004
      WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is coming under fire for allegedly allowing political concerns to determine what it deems to be sensitive national security material after a series of document declassifications that critics contend were timed for strategic advantage.
      In several recent cases, the administration first refused requests for information by saying that releasing it would jeopardize national security, then released that same information itself at a moment when it became politically convenient to do so -- leaving the impression that it was safe to release all along.
      After first refusing to allow Congress to see a memo about Al Qaeda from a month before the 2001 attacks, and then letting only some of the 9/11 Commission see it in private, the White House released the entire document to quell rising public pressure. After the Justice Department fought the American Civil Liberties Union in court to suppress statistics on how often it used the Patriot Act, Attorney General John Ashcroft called a news conference and announced them.
      Last week, President Bush himself rebuked Ashcroft for declassifying Justice Department memos from the Clinton era showing deliberations involving Jamie Gorelick, the number two Justice official under Clinton who is now a member of the 9/11 Commission, over how the CIA and FBI could share terrorism information.
      Concern over the integrity of the national security secrecy system comes as a new oversight report has revealed a surge in secrecy: the US government classified 14 million new national-security secrets last year, up from 11 million in the previous year and 8 million the year before.
      Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive project at George Washington University, said the rising wave of national-security classifications, coupled with disclosures of formerly secret information that "doesn't pass the guffaw test," jeopardizes the protection of legitimate secrets, such as the names of covert operatives or the designs of weapons systems.
      "If people inside the system see dubious secrets being placed into the security system or see strategic declassifications being done for purely political reasons, they are less likely to be bound by their own oaths," he said. "It undermines the credibility of the system from both the inside and the outside. To the extent that we are all American citizens and agree that there are real secrets that need to be protected, then this is bad. This is damaging to our national security."
      The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. But Brad Berenson, a former associate White House counsel in the Bush administration, rejected the criticism as "unfair" and "incredibly ironic" because President Bush has been hit just as hard by accusations that he is overly secretive and does not disclose enough information.
      He also said the disclosures have followed "political pressure" on the White House by Congress, the 9/11 Commission, victims' family groups, and the public.
      "To call this strategic or political, I think, is unfair," he said. "It's not as though the administration is proactively seeking to seed the market with information helpful to it. It's that the administration is being forced by political pressure to reveal or disclose things that, left to its own devices, I'm sure it would rather not."
      The process of classifying and declassifying documents is controlled by two executive orders, one issued by President Clinton and a second by Bush that modifies the Clinton order. The orders allow certain officials in the executive branch to classify documents if disclosing them to an unauthorized person could damage national security. Typically the agency that originally classified a document is the one that must sign off on an effort to declassify it.
      Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the American Federation of Scientists, said what it means to "damage" national security is ill-defined. Standards vary from office to office, creating a level of subjectivity that has opened the system to abuse, he said.
      Ann Beeson, associate legal director for the national ACLU, said the administration has abused the shield of "national security" to quash several Freedom of Information Act lawsuits in the post-Sept. 11 era, such as its use of the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215, which allows for the secret seizure of business records.
      In October 2003, several months after the Justice Department won a court order dismissing an ACLU lawsuit on the grounds that revealing information about Section 215 would jeopardize national security, Ashcroft called a news conference to announce that the power had never been used. The announcement helped kick off Ashcroft's campaign to persuade the public that the Patriot Act was a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism and not a threat to civil liberties.
      Beeson is working on another Patriot Act-related case. The Justice Department refused to allow even the fact of the lawsuit to be disclosed, citing national security concerns, and then only last week allowed the ACLU to release a heavily redacted copy of its legal complaint.
      Beeson contends that there was very little in the pages of blacked-out information that appears to have any impact on national security and that the administration is simply hiding the facts to avoid public scrutiny.
      Meanwhile, in Idaho, the Justice Department is prosecuting a Saudi graduate student in computer science named Sami Omar Al-Hussayen who is accused of running websites for Islamic groups advocating holy war in Israel and Chechnya, among other places, and of transferring money to a charity suspected of terrorist ties.
      While preparing for the trial, Hussayen's lawyers repeatedly asked for access to documents from the government's surveillance of their client, but the Justice Department fought that release on national security grounds. Three days before the trial, however, the government abruptly decided to declassify about 30,000 intercepted Arabic-language phone calls and e-mail messages it is using as evidence in the case, raising questions about whether the delay was for security reasons or an attempt to prevent the defense from having sufficient time to review the documents.
      Bob McNamara Jr., a former CIA general counsel, said a delay in declassifying documents does not necessarily mean they were safe to be released all along. He said national security interests are shifting, and something may have changed. top

      Bremer Regrets Statements About Bush
      BAGHDAD, Iraq - L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, said he regrets a statement he made more than six months before the Sept. 11 attacks that the Bush administration was "paying no attention" to terrorism.
      Bremer said Sunday any implied criticism that President Bush was not acting against terrorism was "unfair."

      Ahead of the November election, Bush is facing criticism he didn't make terrorism his No. 1 priority before the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center and then weakened the war on terror by invading Iraq and shifting the focus from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. The resurfacing of Bremer's comments added to administration frustrations.

      At a McCormick Tribune Foundation conference on terrorism on Feb. 26, 2001, Bremer said, "The new administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism. What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?'

      "That's too bad. They've been given a window of opportunity with very little terrorism now, and they're not taking advantage of it."

      Bremer made the speech after he had chaired the National Commission on Terrorism, a bipartisan body formed by the Clinton administration to examine U.S. counterterrorism policies.
      In a statement Sunday, Bremer said his remarks three years ago "reflected my frustration" that none of his commission's recommendations had been implemented by Clinton or the new Bush administration.

      "Criticism of the new administration, however, was unfair. President Bush had just been sworn into office and could not reasonably be held responsible for the Federal Government's inaction over the preceding 7 months," Bremer's Sunday statement said.

      "I regret any suggestion to the contrary. In fact, I have since learned that President Bush had shared some of these frustrations, and had initiated a more direct and comprehensive approach to confronting terrorism consistent with the threats outlined in the National Commission report.

      "I am strongly supportive and grateful for the President's leadership and strategy in combating terrorism and protecting American national security throughout his first term in office." top

      Editor-in-chief of U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper quits, complaining of American control
      By Lee Keath, Associated Press, 5/3/2004 14:47

      BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) The head of a U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper quit and said Monday he was taking almost his entire staff with him because of American interference in the publication.
      On a front-page editorial of the Al-Sabah newspaper, editor-in-chief Ismail Zayer said he and his staff were ''celebrating the end of a nightmare we have suffered from for months ... We want independence. They (the Americans) refuse.''
      Al-Sabah was set up by U.S. officials with funding from the Pentagon soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein last year. Since its first issue in July, many Iraqis have considered it the mouthpiece of the U.S.-led coalition, along with the U.S.-funded television station Al-Iraqiya.
      Zayer said almost the entire staff left the paper along with him and that they were launching a new paper called Al-Sabah Al-Jedid (''The New Morning''), which would begin publishing Tuesday.
      Zayer had sought to break Al-Sabah away from the Iraqi Media Network, which groups the paper, Al-Iraqiya and a number of radio station and is run by Harris Inc., a Florida-based communications company that won a $96 million Pentagon contract in January to develop the media.
      ''We informed (Zayer) that the paper would remain part of the IMN,'' said Tom Hausman of Harris' corporate communications. ''He made the decision to resign.''
      Hausman said Al-Sabah would continue publishing on Tuesday with a new staff.
      ''We had a project to create a free media in Iraq,'' Zayer said of the founding of Al-Sabah. ''They are trying to control us. We are being suffocated.''
      Zayer accused Harris of interfering in the paper's workings, including trying to stop some of its advertising and speaking to reporters about articles.
      Among the ads that he said Harris tried to prevent was advertisement from a new political organization called ''the Iraqi Republican Group.'' The ad ran in Monday's issue the last put together by Zayer's staff.
      The ad complained of the ''griefs of occupation'' and called on Iraqi elite to rally ''to preserve our nation from destruction.''
      Zayer said he was told by Harris that the ad was ''too political.'' top

      Lawmaker suggests Iraq prisoner abuse more widespread, not 'isolated incident'
      By Robert Burns, Associated Press, 5/4/2004 11:38

      WASHINGTON (AP) Stunned by the U.S. military's abuse of Iraqi prisoners, lawmakers demanded answers Tuesday to how it happened. One senator said he feared the abuses may be more widespread than first reported.
      Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., emerged from a closed-door briefing of the Senate Armed Services Committee and said he feared that the allegations made public so far are ''the beginning rather than the end'' of the abuse allegations.
      ''This does not appear to be an isolated incident,'' Kennedy said. There might be other abuses at facilities in Iraq and possibly Afghanistan, he said.
      But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters outside the hearing he was ''extremely hopeful that ... this was not a widespread pattern of abuse and that the conduct of the overwhelming majority of Americans is honorable and decent.''
      McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, added, however that the abuses themselves would not be tolerated or excused.
      ''The rules for the treatment of prisoners of war are very clear,'' McCain said. ''There is no justification for this kind of treatment.''
      The Pentagon sent several lower level uniformed military officials to Capitol Hill after being summoned by the committee. Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said the allegations, ''if proven, represent an appalling and totally unacceptable breach of military conduct that could undermine much of the courageous work and sacrifice by our forces in the war on terror.''
      As the committee met, Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said on the Senate floor that he wants Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to come to the legislative body ''no later than the end of this week ... and explain to us what they know.''
      Among other things, Daschle said he wanted to know why President Bush was not earlier informed of a report that American soldiers had subjected detainees to blatant and sadistic abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison and why Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers have not yet read the two-month old report.
      ''Why, in other words, has there been this extraordinary disconnect, this unbelievable failure of communication, of oversight,'' Daschle said. ''We cannot let this action go without doing all that we can to ensure that we understand all of the circumstances ... and be provided with ... specific and detailed response involving discipline.''
      White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday that Bush first became aware of the allegations of abuse some time after the Pentagon began looking into it but did not see the pictures until they were made public and did not learn of the classified Pentagon report until news organizations reported its existence.
      On Monday, a Pentagon official said the U.S. military did a ''top-level review'' last fall of how its detention centers in Iraq were run, months before commanders first were told about the sexual humiliation and abuse of Iraqis that has created an international uproar.
      Larry Di Rita, Rumsfeld's spokesman, said the review was done at the request of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the senior American commander in Iraq.
      Di Rita did not say what prompted the review. He said it ''drew certain conclusions,'' which later were taken into account by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who began an investigation on Jan. 31 focused on an unidentified soldier's report of prisoner mistreatment at Abu Ghraib prison.
      Meanwhile, an attorney for a military police officer being investigated in the abuse probe, said on NBC's ''Today'' show that the photographs of the Iraq prisoners that have inspired widespread revulsion ''were obviously staged'' in order to manipulate the prisoners into cooperating with intelligence officials.
      ''They were part of the psychological manipulation of the prisoners being interrogated,'' said Guy Womack, attorney for Charles A. Graner, Jr., a Greene County, Pa. corrections officer who was activated to the military in March 2003 and served at Abu Ghraib.
      ''It was being controlled and devised by the military intelligence community and other governmental agencies, including the CIA,'' Womack said. The soldiers, he said, were simply ''following orders.''
      On Capitol Hill, concern over the abuses spread. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she fears that photos depicting Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody apparently being sexually humiliated and physically abused, which have been widely broadcast on TV, could incite more violence against American troops in Iraq.
      Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Jeff Bingaman, N.M., said the concern goes beyond the actions of a few soldiers.
      ''There is a bigger issue here,'' Hagel said Tuesday on NBC's ''Today.'' ''Was there an environment, a culture that not only condoned this, but encouraged this kind of behavior? We need to look well beyond just the soldier. Who was in charge? Was there a breakdown in command here? ... We need to understand all the dynamics of this.''
      On March 20, criminal charges were filed against six military police officers. As many as three of the six cases have been referred to military trial, and others are in various stages of preliminary hearings, officials said.
      In addition to the criminal cases, seven others all military police have been given noncriminal punishment in six of the cases they got letters of reprimand. Some of the seven are members of the Army Reserve, according to a defense official who direct knowledge of the situation.
      It was unclear whether others, including those in military intelligence, will face disciplinary action. The names of the seven have not been made public. top

      U.S. Sent Specialists To Train Prison Units
      Allegations of Abuse Highlight Inexperience
      By Bradley Graham and Thomas E. Ricks
      Washington Post Staff Writers
      Tuesday, May 4, 2004; Page A01
      Presented with reports of abusive behavior by U.S. military guards at Baghdad's main prison, the Army two months ago quietly dispatched to Iraq a team of about 25 military police experienced in running detention facilities to shore up training and supervision, Army officials said yesterday.
      It was the first group of such specialists sent to Iraq since the invasion last year, the officials said. The move followed an internal Army investigation that found military police at the Abu Ghraib prison largely unprepared for their role as guards and accused them of grossly mistreating Iraqi detainees, the officials said.
      The decision to send the special team reflected an acknowledgement by U.S. military commanders that the abuse of detainees and laxness in oversight evident at the prison may extend beyond the small group of enlisted soldiers and officers charged or reprimanded so far and require broader remedial action.
      Although military police are frequently used to take control of prisoners in the field and escort them to detention centers, most are not trained to operate prisons, the officials said. That responsibility falls to a tiny share of the Army's military police force -- about 970 out of 38,000 troops -- who receive specific training to run correctional facilities. The Army maintains several such permanent prisons in the United States and abroad.
      The 25 specialists dispatched to Iraq will operate as a "mobile training team," the officials said, working with military police units that have rotated into the country in recent weeks to replace other forces.
      U.S. military authorities have made no attempt to excuse the reported behavior of the guards at Abu Ghraib. Widely published photographs of their alleged actions showed naked Iraqi prisoners stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another. In one case, a prisoner, pictured standing on a box with wires attached to his hands and feet, was reportedly told he would be electrocuted if he stepped down.
      The episode has focused attention not only on the training of military police guards, but also on the techniques used by military intelligence agents and private contractors responsible for interrogating prisoners. An internal Army investigation has reported that the accused prison guards -- enlisted personnel from a reserve military police unit -- were acting on instructions from the interrogators, who told the guards to "set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses."
      A spokesman for the Army's military intelligence school at Fort Huachuca in Arizona said soldiers receive extensive instruction in laws prohibiting physical or mental torture in interrogations. But a brief summary of the instruction notes that "certain applications" of legitimate interrogation techniques "may approach the line between lawful actions and unlawful action."
      Intelligence operatives in Iraq have been under enormous pressure to identify and locate insurgents and determine the breadth of their support. Last fall, an in

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