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The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory (Wednesday, February 01, 2006)

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  • jim@leftopia.com
     Iraq Front News Subscribe: IraqFrontNews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Wednesday, February 01, 2006 News roundup by Jim Galasyn
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2006
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      Wednesday, February 01, 2006
      News roundup by Jim Galasyn

      Iraq Front News

      Wednesday, February 01, 2006

      Bring Them Home

      Fool Me Once

      Hearts And Minds

      White Man's Burden

       

       

       

       


       

       

       

       

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      Civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq
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      At least eight killed in Baghdad suicide blast
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 05:32:06 GMT

      A suicide bomber wearing an explosives belt attacked a group of Iraqi men waiting for work in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least eight and wounding more than 30, police said.

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      Eight Iraqis Killed in Baghdad Bombing
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 14:14:55 GMT

      A bomb exploded alongside a group of Iraqi men waiting for work in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least eight and wounding more than 50, as a key Sunni Arab leader threatened to call for a nationwide 'uprising' unless the Shiite interior minister is replaced.

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      Gunmen kill civilian in Baghdad, interior ministry bombed
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 00:00:00 GMT

      A bomb then went off next to the interior ministry, a blast heard throughout central Baghdad, injuring two people. One civilian was killed by gunmen in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of al-Dura.

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      Roadside bombs kill two Iraqis in Baghdad, Baqubah
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 00:00:00 GMT

      A roadside bomb also exploded in Amiriya in western Baghdad, killing one and wounding three others. And an Iraqi civilian died in a bomb attack on a US army patrol in the city of Baquba, northwest of the capital.

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      Gunmen kidnap two Iraqi journalists in central Baghdad
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 00:00:00 GMT

      Gunmen kidnapped two Iraqi journalists working for a local television in central Baghdad on Wednesday...The gunmen dragged the journalists, who work for the al- Sumariyah television, out from their car and took them away.

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      US troops fire on Canadian envoy's car in Iraq
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 12:37:15 GMT

      U.S. troops in Iraq fired warning shots at the Canadian envoy's car on Tuesday after it failed to slow down while approaching an American military convoy, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.

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      The Edinburgh soldier who became the 100th British serviceman killed
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 11:16:10 GMT

      THE Edinburgh soldier who became the 100th British serviceman killed in Iraq was today described as a shining example of everything the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards stood for.

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      Vigils mark Iraq troop fatalities
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 14:28:11 GMT

      Thousands of people have already protested against the war in Iraq Vigils are due to take place in cities across Scotland to mark the deaths of 100 British soldiers serving in Iraq.

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      A Different Operation For U.S. Doctors in Iraq
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 00:00:00 GMT

      Maj. Hans Bakken and Maj. Brett Schlifka... had worked on two serious head wound cases the previous evening and then, after going to sleep about midnight, were awakened at 1:30 a.m. to treat a soldier flown in with a gunshot to the head.

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      Embedded in Iraq With U.S. Army
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 22:54:06 GMT

      AP Correspondent Antonio Castaneda is embedded with the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, in Iraq. This is a blog on his experiences.

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      Army Vows to Cut Guard Role
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 21:20:39 GMT

      After a tough year in Iraq, citizen soldiers of the Army National Guard will play a much smaller combat role for the remainder of the war, the Army's top two generals say.

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      National Guard and Reserve Mobilized as of February 1, 2006
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 00:00:00 GMT

      This week, the Navy announced an increase in the number of reservists on active duty, while the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps had a decrease. The net collective result is six fewer reservists mobilized than last week.

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      Audit: U.S.-Led Occupation Engaged In Fraud and Squandered Aid
      01/29/06

      01/29/06 "AP" -- -- Iraqi money gambled away in the Philippines. Thousands spent on a swimming pool that was never used. An elevator repaired so poorly that it crashed, killing people. A U.S. government audit found American-led occupation authorities squandered tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to be used to rebuild Iraq through undocumented spending and outright fraud. In some cases, auditors recommend criminal charges be filed against the perpetrators. In others, it asks the U.S. ambassador to Iraq to recoup the money. Dryly written audit reports describe the Coalition Provisional Authority's offices in the south-central city of Hillah being awash in bricks of $100 bills taken from a central vault without documentation. It describes one agent who kept almost $700,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker and mentions a U.S. soldier who gambled away as much as $60,000 in reconstruction funds in the Philippines. "Tens of millions of dollars in cash had gone in and out of the South-Central Region vault without any tracking of who deposited or withdrew the money, and why it was taken out," says a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which is in the midst of a series of audits for the Pentagon and State Department. Much of the first audit reports deal with contracting in south-central Iraq, one of the country's least-hostile regions. Audits have yet to be released for the occupation authority's spending in the rest of Iraq. The audits offer a window into the chaotic U.S.-led occupation of Iraq of 2003-04, when inexperienced American officials — including workers from President Bush's election campaign — organized a cash-intensive "hearts and minds" mission to rebuild Iraq's devastated economy. But the corruption and incompetence documented in the reports reveal that much of the effort, however well-intentioned, was wasted. The failure of the rebuilding effort has been borne out most vividly by the rise of a virulent anti-American insurgency that has claimed most of the 2,237 U.S. military lives lost since the war began. In some cases, auditors could find no trace of cash, much of which came from Iraqi oil revenues overseen by the occupation authority. "Those deficiencies were so significant that we were precluded from accomplishing our stated objectives," the auditors said of U.S. officials in Hillah being unable to account for $97 million of the $120 million in Iraqi oil revenues earmarked for rebuilding projects. An October 2005 audit found documentation for the spending of just $8 million of that money. Negligence proved deadly in at least one case. Three Iraqis plummeted to their deaths in an elevator in the Hillah General Hospital that was certified to have been replaced by a contractor who received $662,800. Also in Hillah, occupation officials spent $108,140 to replace pumps and fix the city's Olympic swimming pool. But the contractor merely polished the old plumbing to make it look new and collected his money. When the pool was filled, the water came out a murky brown and the pool's reopening had to be canceled. The reports did not identify the contractors involved. Auditors have asked the U.S. ambassador to recover a total of $571,823 that the reports describe as overpaid funds. In some cases, cash simply disappeared. Two occupation authority field agents responsible for paying contractors left Iraq without accounting for more than $700,000 each. When auditors confronted their manager and asked where the money was, the manger tried to clear one of the agents through false paperwork. "This appears to be an attempt to remove outstanding balances by simply washing accounts," the auditor said. The two agents were not identified and there was no word on whether the pair were referred for prosecution. One report describes mismanagement of more than 2,000 small contracts in south-central Iraq worth $88 million. Occupation staffers or those they supervised handed out millions to companies that never submitted required competitive bids or that were paid for unfinished work. Other examples cited in the reports: _Only a quarter of $23 million entrusted to civilian and military project and contracting officers to pay contractors ever found its way to those contractors. _One contractor was paid $14,000 on four separate occasions for the same job. _Of $7.3 million spent on a police academy near Hillah, auditors could account for just $4 million. They said $1.3 million was wasted on overpriced or duplicate construction or equipment not delivered. More than $2 million was missing. _U.S. personnel "needlessly disbursed more than $1.8 million" of the estimated $2.3 million spent for renovating the library in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. _The library contractor delivered only 18 of 68 personal computers called for and did not install Internet wiring or software. The computers worked only as stand-alones. _The U.S.-led security transition command spent $945,000 for seven armored Mercedes-Benzes that were too lightly armored for Iraq. Auditors were able to account for only six of the cars. _At one point, several paying agents kept cash inside the same filing cabinet in the Hillah vault. One agent took $100,000 from another's stack of cash to clear his own balance. "This was only discovered because the other paying agent had to make a disbursement that day and realized that he was short cash," the report says. On the Net: Special Inspector General: http://www.sigir.mil/audit_reports.html

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      Iraq democracy must come before oil: Chalabi
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 13:22:16 GMT

      Democracy in Iraq could come at the expense of a rapid recovery in the country's oil exports that have fallen to their lowest level since the U.S.-led invasion, deputy prime minister Ahmad Chalabi said on Wednesday.

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      Bush Speech Draws Mixed Reaction in Iraq
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 13:30:08 GMT

      Some Iraqis expressed anger with President Bush's pledge in his State of the Union address to stay the course in Iraq, while others on Wednesday said they believed the Americans had little choice but to stick it out to prevent civil war.

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      Bush Confident Despite Mounting Challenges
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 15:29:52 GMT

      President Bush, opening the fall campaign season, is painting Democrats as defeatist for criticizing his march to war in Iraq and protectionist for questioning new trade deals and tax-cut extensions.

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      Official to Plead Guilty in Iraq Scheme
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 16:08:37 GMT

      A former U.S. occupation official in Iraq has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to steal more than $2 million in reconstruction money and award contracts to a businessman in exchange for more than $1 million in cash and goods.

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      US Senate drawn into Australia-Iraq corruption scandal
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 16:09:29 GMT

      The United States Senate was drawn into a growing controversy over the Australian government's role in a scandal about bribes paid to Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

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      Angry US slams Iraq bribe denials
      February 02, 2006

      THE chairman of a powerful US Senate committee is demanding Australian ambassador to Washington Dennis Richardson explain the Howard Government's role in the Iraqi wheat affair, saying he is "deeply troubled" by an apparent attempt to cover up the scandal. Republican senator Norm Coleman, who is chairing the Senate's inquiry into "illegal, under-the-table" payments to Saddam Hussein's regime, also wrote to former Washington ambassador Michael Thawley, criticising him for making "emphatic denials" about AWB's role. In a letter to Mr Richardson dated January 31, Senator Coleman said he wanted to discuss Mr Thawley's disturbing behaviour during a meeting in Washington in October 2004, where the then ambassador "unequivocally dismissed" claims AWB was involved in making illicit payments to the Saddam government. Senator Coleman said evidence presented to the Cole inquiry in Sydney suggested that, on the contrary, officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade may have been "aware of and complicit in the payments of the illegal kickbacks". Mr Thawley, a former senior adviser to John Howard, used the meeting to argue for AWB to be left out of an investigation into allegations of kickbacks under the UN's oil-for-food program. The revelation has reignited calls for the Cole inquiry's terms of reference to be widened to include the role of government officials in the scandal. AWB is accused of paying almost $300million to Saddam, and hiding the payments from the UN. In his letter, Senator Coleman claimed Mr Thawley insisted at the October 2004 meeting that AWB would never be involved in kickbacks. He wrote this week that the revelations in the Cole inquiry were "extremely disconcerting in light of the fact that you came to my office and expressly denied these allegations". Senator Coleman asked Mr Richardson, who was appointed ambassador to Washington in July last year, and Mr Thawley to contact his committee to explain why the Australian Government had tried to block an investigation into the kickbacks. He asked Mr Richardson for "an opportunity to discuss this matter" and urged him to contact the staff of the subcommittee. Neither the Prime Minister nor Foreign Minister Alexander Downer would say whether Mr Richardson would make himself available. Mr Thawley, who is now a private citizen in the US, would not comment. Senator Coleman's concerns were echoed in a January 30 letter from seven powerful US senators to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, in which they demanded AWB be suspended from an export credit program. The senators claimed there was evidence that "senior Australian government officials may have agreed to, or at least had advanced knowledge" of AWB's kickbacks to Saddam's regime. The seven members of the Senate's agriculture committee also questioned the independence of the Cole inquiry. "Given the evidence that some Australian government officials may have agreed to, or had knowledge in advance of the illicit payments, is the Cole inquiry sufficiently independent of the current Government of Australia to be entrusted to investigate the matter?" the letter says. In London, Mr Downer told reporters that he was prepared to give testimony to the Cole inquiry in order to "get to the bottom of what was going on". "I think anybody should be happy to appear," Mr Downer said. "I'm absolutely relaxed about it." Mr Downer said the Government had established the Cole inquiry after reading the UN's Volker report into corruption, which "was pretty damning". However, he added that "common sense" supported the proposition that the Prime Minister, ministers and DFAT officials "were not involved in criminal activity, in breaking Australian law and sanctions-busting and approving kickbacks". Last week, inquiry head Terrence Cole said he was considering recommending many criminal charges after hearing two weeks of evidence from AWB officials. Treasurer Peter Costello told ABC radio in Melbourne yesterday that Mr Cole had "full powers of a royal commissioner" and would be "calling everybody who is relevant" including government employees. Mr Costello said Mr Cole was also free to ask the Government to expand the inquiry, adding: "I am sure of one thing: if he makes a request of the Government it will be very carefully considered.

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      Britons promised 'good news' on Iraq withdrawal
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 11:07:01 GMT

      Foreign Minister Jack Straw told Britons on Wednesday to expect 'good news' in the coming year regarding the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.

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      Military Hides Cause of Women Soldiers' Deaths
      30 January 2006

      In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq. Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark. The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said. Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep." "And rather than make everybody aware of that - because that's shocking, and as a leader if that's not shocking to you then you're not much of a leader - what they told the surgeon to do is don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report but don't brief it in the open anymore." For example, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez's top deputy in Iraq, saw "dehydration" listed as the cause of death on the death certificate of a female master sergeant in September 2003. Under orders from Sanchez, he directed that the cause of death no longer be listed, Karpinski stated. The official explanation for this was to protect the women's privacy rights. Sanchez's attitude was: "The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory," Karpinski quoted him as saying. Karpinski told me that Sanchez, who was her boss, was very sensitive to the political ramifications of everything he did. She thinks it likely that when the information about the cause of these women's deaths was passed to the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld ordered that the details not be released. "That's how Rumsfeld works," she said. "It was out of control," Karpinski told a group of students at Thomas Jefferson School of Law last October. There was an 800 number women could use to report sexual assaults. But no one had a phone, she added. And no one answered that number, which was based in the United States. Any woman who successfully connected to it would get a recording. Even after more than 83 incidents were reported during a six-month period in Iraq and Kuwait, the 24-hour rape hot line was still answered by a machine that told callers to leave a message. "There were countless such situations all over the theater of operations - Iraq and Kuwait - because female soldiers didn't have a voice, individually or collectively," Karpinski told Hackworth. "Even as a general I didn't have a voice with Sanchez, so I know what the soldiers were facing. Sanchez did not want to hear about female soldier requirements and/or issues." Karpinski was the highest officer reprimanded for the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, although the details of interrogations were carefully hidden from her. Demoted from Brigadier General to Colonel, Karpinski feels she was chosen as a scapegoat because she was a female. Sexual assault in the US military has become a hot topic in the last few years, "not just because of the high number of rapes and other assaults, but also because of the tendency to cover up assaults and to harass or retaliate against women who report assaults," according to Kathy Gilberd, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild's Military Law Task Force. This problem has become so acute that the Army has set up its own sexual assault web site. In February 2004, Rumsfeld directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to undertake a 90-day review of sexual assault policies. "Sexual assault will not be tolerated in the Department of Defense," Rumsfeld declared. The 99-page report was issued in April 2004. It affirmed, "The chain of command is responsible for ensuring that policies and practices regarding crime prevention and security are in place for the safety of service members." The rates of reported alleged sexual assault were 69.1 and 70.0 per 100,000 uniformed service members in 2002 and 2003. Yet those rates were not directly comparable to rates reported by the Department of Justice, due to substantial differences in the definition of sexual assault. Notably, the report found that low sociocultural power (i.e., age, education, race/ethnicity, marital status) and low organizational power (i.e., pay grade and years of active duty service) were associated with an increased likelihood of both sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Department of Defense announced a new policy on sexual assault prevention and response on January 3, 2005. It was a reaction to media reports and public outrage about sexual assaults against women in the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing sexual assaults and cover-ups at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, Gilberd said. As a result, Congress demanded that the military review the problem, and the Defense Authorization Act of 2005 required a new policy be put in place by January 1. The policy is a series of very brief "directive-type memoranda" for the Secretaries of the military services from the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. "Overall, the policy emphasizes that sexual assault harms military readiness, that education about sexual assault policy needs to be increased and repeated, and that improvements in response to sexual assaults are necessary to make victims more willing to report assaults," Gilberd notes. "Unfortunately," she added "analysis of the issues is shallow, and the plans for addressing them are limited." Commands can reject the complaints if they decide they aren't credible, and there is limited protection against retaliation against the women who come forward, according to Gilberd. "People who report assaults still face command disbelief, illegal efforts to protect the assaulters, informal harassment from assaulters, their friends or the command itself," she said. But most shameful is Sanchez's cover-up of the dehydration deaths of women that occurred in Iraq. Sanchez is no stranger to outrageous military orders. He was heavily involved in the torture scandal that surfaced at Abu Ghraib. Sanchez approved the use of unmuzzled dogs and the insertion of prisoners head-first into sleeping bags after which they are tied with an electrical cord and their are mouths covered. At least one person died as the result of the sleeping bag technique. Karpinski charges that Sanchez attempted to hide the torture after the hideous photographs became public. Sanchez reportedly plans to retire soon, according to an article in the International Herald Tribune earlier this month. But Rumsfeld recently considered elevating the 3-star general to a 4-star. The Tribune also reported that Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the Army's chief spokesman, said in an email message, "The Army leaders do have confidence in LTG Sanchez." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She writes a weekly column for t r u t h o u t. -------

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      Combat In Iraq Good For Reservists
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 08:17:14 GMT

      One of the most ridiculous wastes of taxpayer money I’ve ever heard of crossed my desk this morning. WASHINGTON - Most military Reservists who left their civilian jobs to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan made more money there than in their regular jobs, according to a study that contradicts the notion that citizen Soldiers lose money when they go to war. The study, by RAND's National Defense Research Institute, found that 72 percent of the troops surveyed made more while on war duty in 2002 or 2003 than they did in their civilian jobs in 2001. More than half made at least $10,000 more. On average, the Reservists made $850 more per month while on duty than in their civilian jobs, the report found. Here on the planet Earth, most workers made more money in 2002 and 2003 than they did in 2001, unless they're part of the lucky duckies - the 4 or 5 million who saw their lucrative, skilled jobs offshored to India and China in order to provide higher profits for corporations with mailboxes in the Cayman Islands. So, I'm a bit leery of that comparison right from the jump. While a Reservist is on active duty, his military pay, compared to civilian pay is usually pretty crappy. However, when you add in the hazardous duty pay, family separation allowances, and the tax-free aspects of “working” in a combat zone you just about HAVE to have a higher monthly pay. The downside of course is that you rarely hear about a guy in the civilian market getting his brain damaged by an exploding bomb, or having a traumatic amputation of both legs, or a collapsed lung, caused by a bullet. It went on to say, however, that there is still a sizable number - 28 percent - of the Reservists who lost money, including some who saw their earnings drop by more than 10 percent. Just taking a SWAG here, but maybe that 28 percent is the Officer/Managerial set and undoubtedly most of them have civilian employers picking up a large piece of their medical insurance costs. This study examined 212,500 Reservists on active duty during 2002 and 2003, comparing their civilian pay for 2001 with the military reimbursements. The data for comparison was supplied by the Social Security Administration. Now, I have a hard time getting back salary information about my own account, but I guess when you’re a big Defense contractor sucking at the public teat in order to provide happy spin for Bu$hCo, all the privacy rules are waived. Still, [RAND senior economist Jacob Alex Klerman] said, since earnings losses are less of a problem than earlier surveys suggested, legislative efforts to supplement Reservists' pay may not be as necessary or require as much funding as previously thought. Hmmm…. No need to spend more money on Reservists who are taken from their families and civilian jobs, sent to combat, held involuntarily in a STOP LOSS, and discarded like a red-haired stepchild when they’re wounded. Don’t ya just love it when you see a plan come together? He said the study does not imply that reserve pay is adequate. Those troops, he emphasized, are still getting shot at, sleeping in tents and spending months away from their families. Yabbut, they signed up for it, so what right do they have to complain, eh? And, hey – let’s not forget that terrific free medical care, eh? The report doesn’t state that was added into overall value of the compensation package. I wonder whether they allowed for the costs of meal fed to wounded GIs in Army hospitals and later deducted from their pay?

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      Police Remove Sheehan From Bush Speech
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 15:31:16 GMT

      Cindy Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq, wasn't the only one ejected from the House gallery during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt with a war-related slogan that violated the rules. The wife of a powerful Republican congressman was also asked to leave.

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      Gibson, Sawyer to Fill in for ABC Anchor
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 15:42:33 GMT

      ABC will announce Wednesday that Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, two of its best-known journalists, will fill in on 'World News Tonight' for anchorman Bob Woodruff as he recovers from injuries suffered in a roadside bombing.

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      Covering Saddam
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 05:54:47 GMT

      BAGHDAD — I will be part of the print pool for today’s session of Saddam Hussein’s trial, so I’ll be busy doing that until late tonight. I will post my report as soon as I can. UPDATE 10:54 A.M.: We’re still waiting to go into the courtroom, but some background: Today will be the 10th session of the Iraqi High Tribunal, and the ninth meeting in the courthouse. The press room is a round chamber dominated by an expansively chandeliered ceiling and marble floor tiles. The effect is spolied, however, by the cheap desks and IBM ThinkPads the Americans have set up for our use. But at least the Internet works, eh? Security is rather unreal. We’re not allowed to bring in our own notebooks, cellphones, wallets or anything with metal on it. We can bring in our own pens, however. We were screened multiple times before allowed to even think about getting near the courthouse. Normal court hours are supposed to be 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., but I’m told the court has only started on time once. Usually, it runs late. For now, we’re all just waiting for game time. UPDATE 11:38 A.M.: The trial has been delayed because of “procedural issue,” according to a source here in the courthouse. While the source said he didn’t know what the problem is, but it’s likely talks between the judges and the defense lawyers and what they’re going to do following their walkout on Sunday. UPDATE 12:02 P.M.: The court has entered a closed session that could last up to 30 minutes. Presumably we’ll find out what the problem when Head Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman calls the court back into a regular session. This is the fourth special session of the court with the first dealing with the absence of Saddam, the second with the exposure of an anoymous witness and the third with purported “secret” information from defendant Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother and the former head of the Iraqi mukhabarat. After Barzan’s alleged bombshell — bizarrely rumored to be that he was offered the presidency of Iraq — the court recessed for a month. UPDATE 1:17 P.M.: Well, we’re still waiting. We just had lunch, however, so that was nice.

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      Saddam and defense team boycott trial
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 15:09:00 GMT

      Saddam Hussein and four co-accused refused to show up in court on Wednesday along with their defense team in protest against the new chief judge, plunging their trial deeper into chaos.

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      Doctors Say Iraqi Baby Healing Well
      Wed, 01 Feb 2006 17:14:27 GMT

      An Iraqi baby is healing well since spinal surgery last month, and her doctors have removed a drainage tube from her back, hospital officials said Wednesday.

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      Mexico arrests 4 Iraqi migrants trying to reach US
      2006-01-31

      MEXICO CITY, Jan. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Mexico's Attorney General's Office said on Monday that four Iraqi migrants were arrested in the northern Mexican city of Navajoa. In a statement, the Attorney General's Office said the Iraqis were arrested while trying to make an illegal journey into the United States. The statement identified the four Iraqis as 23-year-old Wasim Francis Schamoun and Ivan Yalda, and 27-year-old Refon Chlil Orahaand Thaer Salem Yalda. All the four Iraqis were in Mexico illegally, and a tip-off led to their arrest.

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      Critics Say Detaining Suspected Terrorists' Wives May Backfire - It Could Alienate the Iraqi People, Experts Say
      Jan. 29, 2006

      Jan. 29, 2006— Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, there have been questions about U.S. troops' sensitivities to Islamic culture — especially when dealing with women. Now there are new questions about a tactic the military calls leveraging. For example, marines found weapons and explosives in a woman's house and wanted her to lead them to her husband. The military says this sort of intimidation is a necessary tool. But internal military documents suggest it's taken a new turn: Detaining wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of getting their husbands to surrender. "If they're being taken solely for the purpose of drawing their men out of hiding, it can even appear to look like hostage taking," said Jumana Musa of Amnesty International. In a June 10, 2004, memorandum obtained by ABC News, a Pentagon intelligence officer complains about the detention of a 28-year-old mother — still nursing her 6-month-old baby. She was held for two days even though the officer had concluded she had "no actionable intelligence leading to the arrest of her husband." In an exchange of e-mails obtained by The Associated P

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