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Iraq 'failing to tackle death squads'

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  • Zafar Khan
    Iraq failing to tackle death squads Peter Beaumont in Baghdad Friday September 29, 2006 The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1883854,00.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2006
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      Iraq 'failing to tackle death squads'
      Peter Beaumont in Baghdad
      Friday September 29, 2006
      The Guardian

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1883854,00.html

      Senior US officials have accused the new Iraqi
      government - which they previously championed - of
      failing to deal with the scourge of sectarian death
      squads, which are dragging the country into civil war.
      Fresh figures published yesterday show that more than
      250,000 Iraqis have been displaced by the sectarian
      violence since February. The details emerged in a week
      which, say US officials, has seen the highest number
      of suicide bombings recorded - half of them aimed at
      US-led forces.

      As thousands of Iraqi and US troops continued to
      conduct cordon-and-search operations across the
      capital, a senior US officer for the first time
      publicly questioned prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's
      tactics for quelling the sectarian violence.

      "We have to fix this militia issue. We can't have
      armed militias competing with Iraq's security forces.
      But I have to trust the prime minister to decide when
      it is that we do that," said Lieutenant General Peter
      Chiarelli, the second-highest-ranking American
      military official in Baghdad.

      His comments echoed those of Major General James
      Thurman, commander of US military forces in Baghdad,
      who said last week he believed the question of
      militias was "a problem that the [Iraqi] government
      must deal with immediately".

      Other senior US officials have begun warning that if
      the Iraqi government does not take a lead in disarming
      the militias, the US military might have to do so.

      Despite a massive military effort in Baghdad to clear
      no-go areas of militants, much of the effort has
      focused on strongholds of Sunni fighters, and has so
      far had no impact on the slaughter. Instead, a record
      7,000 Iraqis have died in the last two months alone.
      To add to US gloom it was revealed yesterday that the
      Bush administration is spending $2bn (£1bn) a week on
      the campaign in Iraq.

      The latest political crisis has come as Iraq faces an
      escalating security crisis on three fronts: from the
      nationalist-inspired resistance to the US-led
      occupation, from al-Qaida and other jihadist groups
      which are behind most of the suicide attacks, and from
      a sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni.

      The lack of progress on disarming the militia death
      squads has been a source of growing tension between
      the US military and the Iraqi government. That
      frustration has focused in particular on an agreement
      between Mr Maliki's government and Jaish al-Mahdi, the
      militia of the Shia Sadr organisation, whose members
      are blamed for widespread sectarian murders.

      Under the understanding, US forces have been
      instructed not to conduct aggressive military
      operations in Sadr City, Jaish al-Mahdi's stronghold,
      leading to accusations that a safe haven has been
      created for death squads.

      Anecdotal evidence has emerged that within Sadr City,
      clerics and secretive sharia committees have been
      involved in "legitimising" the killings of Sunnis
      suspected of being involved in anti-Shia terror. It is
      said they are at times presiding over kangaroo courts
      before executions.

      According to US officers interviewed by the Guardian,
      the decision not to confront the major source of the
      death squads was supported initially by the US because
      of fears of a full-scale battle with the militia in
      Sadr City.

      "We are talking Berlin in '45 or Stalingrad," said one
      officer. "That is the conundrum. There is an
      unwillingness to tackle the problem head-on, but also
      a recognition that if we don't tackle the militias,
      death squad activities can only grow."

      Instead, a decision was reached to try to bring
      political pressure to bear on the Sadr organisation,
      whose parliamentary bloc is crucial in supporting Mr
      Maliki's government, to bring its militia - illegal
      under the Iraqi constitution - into line. But with
      growing doubts over how much the Sadr organisation's
      leader, the firebrand preacher Moqtada al-Sadr,
      actually controls the factions within Jaish al-Mahdi,
      concerns are now growing about the wisdom of that
      policy.

      "There are fractures politically inside Sadr's
      movement, many of whom don't find him to be
      sufficiently radical now that he has taken a political
      course of action," said a senior coalition
      intelligence official who spoke to reporters in
      Baghdad.

      Sources close to Mr Maliki, defended the policy of
      political engagement with Jaish al-Mahdi and blamed
      Iraqi politicians with an interest in seeing Mr
      Maliki's government fail for fuelling the sense of
      crisis.

      In a separate development a tape emerged yesterday
      from al-Qaida's leader in Iraq which said that 4,000
      foreign insurgents had been killed since the US-led
      invasion in 2003. The man, who identified himself as
      Abu Hamza al-Muhajir - also known as Abu Ayyub
      al-Masri - called for chemical and nuclear weapons
      experts to join the insurgency by targeting large US
      bases in Iraq.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Bodies of 40 torture victims found in Baghdad
      Staff and agencies
      Thursday September 28, 2006
      Guardian Unlimited

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1882949,00.html

      The bodies of 40 men have been found dumped in the
      streets of Baghdad over the past 24 hours, Iraqi
      police said today.
      The men - who all appeared to be victims of sectarian
      death squads - showed signs of having been tortured.
      They had been shot and had their hands and feet were
      bound.

      Police Lieutenant Thayer Mahmoud said the bodies had
      been left in several neighbourhoods in eastern and
      western areas of the city.

      They were discovered hours after Major General William
      Caldwell, the US military spokesman in Iraq, admitted
      that murders and executions were now the main cause of
      civilian deaths in Baghdad.

      He said there had been an increase in violence with
      the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which
      began on Monday.

      "We are seeing an increase in attacks, as
      anticipated," Maj Gen Caldwell said. "This has been a
      tough week." He added that operations against death
      squads - blamed for much of the violence - had been
      stepped up.

      There had been 14 operations in the past week,
      resulting in the capture or killing of two squad
      leaders and 42 members, he said.

      Yesterday, the bodies of 15 people found in various
      areas outside Baghdad were delivered to the morgue in
      Kut, 100 miles south-east of the Iraqi capital.

      Most showed signs of torture, and had their hands and
      legs bound. Five had been beheaded.

      Elsewhere in Baghdad, US troops killed eight people,
      including four women, in a raid on a house in the
      north-east of the city overnight.

      US military officials said the building was the home
      of a suspected terrorist. They said troops had come
      under heavy fire in the raid, but relatives of the
      victims disputed the claims and said they had nothing
      to do with any terrorist group.

      Manal Jassim, who lost her parents and other relatives
      in the attack, told Associated Press Television News:
      "This is an ugly criminal act by the US soldiers
      against Iraqi citizens."

      The Association of Muslim Scholars, Iraq's major Sunni
      clerical organisation, condemned the raid as a
      "terrorist massacre".

      A poll carried out by the US state department,
      obtained by the Washington Post, found three-quarters
      of Baghdad residents would feel safer if the US and
      other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65% favouring an
      immediate pullout.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Iraq war was terrorism 'recruiting sergeant'

      · Study for MoD criticises Afghanistan involvement
      · Pakistan army said to be indirectly aiding Taliban

      Richard Norton-Taylor
      Thursday September 28, 2006
      The Guardian

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1882713,00.html

      The Iraq war has acted as a "recruiting sergeant" for
      extremists in the Muslim world, according to a paper
      prepared for a Ministry of Defence thinktank, which
      also said the British government sent troops into
      Afghanistan "with its eyes closed".
      The paper, which describes the west as being "in a
      fix" and includes a savage attack on Pakistan's
      intelligence service, the ISI, was written by an
      officer attached to the Defence Academy, according to
      BBC2's Newsnight programme. Its release provoked a
      furious response from the Pakistani president, Pervez
      Musharraf, who has been touring the US.

      The MoD was quick to play down the significance of the
      report. However, the study reflects what the MoD,
      military commanders, and the Foreign Office, have been
      saying in private. What is embarrassing is the timing
      of the leak, a day after Tony Blair's defence of
      Britain's military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
      The research paper blamed the ISI for indirectly
      supporting terrorism and extremism.

      It adds: "The war in Iraq ... has acted as a
      recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim
      world ... Iraq has served to radicalise an already
      disillusioned youth and al-Qaida has given them the
      will, intent, purpose and ideology to act."

      On Afghanistan, the paper said Britain went in "with
      its eyes closed". It claims that a secret deal to
      extricate UK troops from Iraq so they could focus on
      Afghanistan failed when British military leaders were
      overruled.

      The paper also accuses the Pakistan army of indirectly
      supporting the Taliban by backing Pakistan's religious
      parties.

      General Musharraf told Newsnight: "I totally, 200%,
      reject it. I reject it from anybody - MoD or anyone
      who tells me to dismantle ISI. ISI is a disciplined
      force, breaking the back of al-Qaida. Getting
      [arresting] 680 people would not have been possible if
      our ISI was not doing an excellent job."

      The BBC claimed the author of the academic paper,
      based on research carried out in Pakistan less than
      three months ago, was "linked" to MI6.

      An MoD spokeswoman said last night: "The academic
      research notes quoted in no way represent the views of
      the MoD or the government. To represent it as such is
      deeply irresponsible and the author is furious that
      his notes have been wilfully misrepresented in this
      manner. He suspects they have been released to the BBC
      precisely in the hope they would cause damage to our
      relations with Pakistan.

      "Pakistan is a key ally in our efforts to combat
      international terrorism and her security forces have
      made considerable sacrifices in tackling al-Qaida and
      the Taliban. We are working closely with Pakistan to
      tackle the root causes of terrorism and extremism."

      It is not the first time during his current tour that
      Gen Musharraf - who is also promoting his memoirs- has
      attracted controversy. This week, while in the US to
      meet President George Bush, he told an American
      television programme that former US deputy secretary
      of state Richard Armitage had told his intelligence
      chief that Pakistan would be bombed "back to the stone
      age" if it failed to help the US track down and punish
      those responsible for the September 11 attacks.

      The US government was quick to deny the allegation,
      which some claimed would damage Pakistan's
      international standing.

      Asad Durrani, former head of the ISI, told the Reuters
      news agency: "Such remarks may well sell your book,
      but it creates more controversies."

      The Pakistan connection

      Western governments and their intelligence services
      have argued that Pakistan occupies a central position
      in the war on terror. The publication earlier this
      year of the first official accounts by police and
      security services of the events surrounding the July 7
      bombings in London suggested the British bombers may
      have been radicalised, at least in part, in that
      country.

      Mohammed Sidique Khan, the ringleader of the London
      attacks, in 2003 visited Pakistan and possibly
      Afghanistan where he is believed to have had training
      and met al-Qaida contacts.

      Planning for the attack is thought to have begun
      shortly after a return visit with the second bomber,
      Shehzad Tanweer, between November 2004 and February
      2005.

      Pakistani officials have repeatedly insisted that the
      July 7 bombers were radicalised in the UK and not in
      Pakistan, in response to suggestions that they may
      have received training from extremists in the country.
      But the suggestion of ties between Pakistan and terror
      cells in this country have continued nonetheless.

      Last week the Old Bailey trial of an alleged British
      al-Qaida cell was halted temporarily after one of the
      defendants refused to carry on giving evidence,
      claiming the Pakistani secret service had threatened
      his family. Omar Khyam, 24, who is accused along with
      six other men of plotting a UK bombing campaign using
      fertiliser-based explosives, refused to answer
      questions from his defence barrister. Earlier in the
      trial he had given evidence about a training camp in
      Pakistan where he claimed the ISI intelligence agency
      gave lessons in handling explosives.

      His comments were the latest in a number of reports
      pointing to the existence of extremist groups in the
      country.
      Alex Kumi
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Iraq has 'shaped terrorist leaders'
      By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
      Published: 27 September 2006

      http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article1761698.ece

      The Iraq insurgency is "shaping a new generation of
      terrorist leaders and operatives," US intelligence
      chiefs have warned, as the three-and-a-half-year-old
      war has turned into a "cause célèbre" for jihadists
      around the world.

      In a largely bleak assessment of the terrorist threat
      to the US, they conclude that, in the near term at
      least, the danger is likely to grow rather than
      diminish. Four factors are fuelling the spread of the
      movement: "entrenched grievances such as injustice and
      fear of the West, the Iraq 'jihad', the slow pace of
      real ... reform in many Muslim nations, and pervasive
      anti-American sentiment among most Moslems - all of
      which the jihadists exploit."

      These are the most striking findings of the National
      Intelligence Estimate on global terrorism trends,
      leaked to some US newspapers at the weekend, and
      declassified in part yesterday on the orders of
      President Bush.

      An NIE is the most authoritative US intelligence
      document, being the distilled wisdom of all 16 US
      intelligence agencies. This one, however, made public
      six weeks before mid-term elections, is especially
      sensitive.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Helmand governor escapes as suicide bomber kills 18
      By Kim Sengupta
      Published: 27 September 2006

      http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article1761653.ece

      The governor of Helmand, a key British ally in
      Afghanistan, was the target of a suicide bomb attack
      yesterday which killed 18 people.

      The bomb was detonated at the front gate of the home
      and office of Mohammed Daoud Safi in the provincial
      capital, Lashkar Gar. Nine soldiers and nine
      civilians, including pilgrims seeking paperwork to
      travel to Mecca for the haj, were among those dead.

      Mr Daoud, seen as President Hamid Karzai's main
      emissary in the war-torn south, was inside the
      building but escaped unhurt. He was instrumental in
      the deployment of British forces in the Taliban
      stronghold of Sangin Valley, appealing for help after
      an upsurge of Islamist activity in the area.

      The bomber approached Mr Daoud's compound on foot and
      blew himself up after being challenged by a sentry.
      Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, who claims to be a spokesman for
      the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, claimed
      responsibility.

      Ghulam Muhiddin, Mr Daoud's spokesman, insisted that
      "innocent civilians and Afghan soldiers" - not the
      governor - were the bomber's targets. However, the
      attack came 48 hours after the murder of Safia Amajan,
      a prominent women's rights activist in Kandahar. The
      governor of Paktia province was assassinated this
      month. Twenty-one died in Lashkar Gar in late August
      when a suicide bomber tried to kill a former police
      chief, and last week 19 construction workers were
      killed in Kandahar.

      * A bomb attack against a Nato patrol just south of
      the Afghan capital killed an Italian soldier and a
      child. The bomb planted under a bridge detonated when
      a military convoy passed by, Kabul police said. Chief
      Cpl Major Giorgio Langella was killed in the blast,
      and five Italian soldiers were wounded, two seriously.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Kurds and Arabs vie for control of Mosul
      By Patrick Cockburn in Mosul, northern Iraq
      Published: 27 September 2006

      http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1761665.ece

      Across northern Iraq people are voting with their
      feet. In and around Mosul, the third-largest Iraqi
      city, some 70,000 Kurds have fled their homes so far
      this year. Many have run away after receiving an
      envelope with a bullet inside and a note telling them
      to get out in 72 hours. Others became refugees because
      they feared that a war between Arabs and Kurds for
      control of the region was not far off.

      "There is no solution except the division of the
      province," said Khasro Goran, the powerful Kurdish
      deputy governor of Mosul. He believes that all the
      Kurds in the province want to join the Kurdistan
      Regional Government (KRG), which under the federal
      constitution is almost an independent state.

      Violence in Mosul, a city of 1.75 million people, is
      not as bad as in Baghdad or Diyala province, claims Mr
      Goran, who is also head of the Kurdistan Democratic
      Party (KDP) in Mosul, during an interview with The
      Independent inside his heavily fortified headquarters.
      This is not saying a great deal, since he added that
      40 to 50 people were being killed in Mosul every week.

      "Two officials from the KDP working in this building
      were shot dead outside their homes a few days ago,"
      said Mr Goran, an urbane, highly educated man who
      spent 11 years in exile in Sweden and speaks five
      languages. He has been the target of eight
      assassination attempts, in which several guards have
      been killed.

      It was only possible for me to go to Mosul because Mr
      Goran sent several of his bodyguards in two cars to
      pick me up in the Kurdish capital, Arbil. Travelling
      at high speed into Mosul, they pointed to the remains
      of the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of
      Kurdistan, which had been destroyed by a large suicide
      bomb in a Volvo in mid-August. The blast killed 17
      men, mostly soldiers on guard. Fearing a similar
      attack, the KDP had just added another concrete blast
      wall to its already impressive defences.

      The fate of Mosul, the largest city in Iraq in which
      Sunni Arabs are in the majority, may determine how far
      Iraq survives as a single country. The proportion of
      Arabs to Kurds in the province and city is much
      disputed.

      There is no doubt that the Arabs are in a majority of
      around 55 per cent in the province, but they angrily
      dispute the Kurdish claim to make up a third of the
      2.7 million population. When an Arab MP in parliament
      in Baghdad claimed this week that the Kurds made up
      only 4 per cent of the population of the city, all the
      Kurdish MPs staged a walk-out in a fury.

      At the moment nobody wholly controls Mosul, one of the
      oldest urban centres on the planet, sprawling along
      both banks of the Tigris river. The 2nd Iraqi Army
      Division is based in the city, and the 3rd Division is
      outside, each 15,000-strong, and both of them are at
      least 50 per cent Kurdish, and with Kurdish
      commanders. But the Americans, fearful of the Sunni
      Arab reaction, have forbidden the army to patrol too
      aggressively.

      If the Kurds have the army, the Arabs have the police.
      There are 16,000 policemen in the province, and 6,000
      in the city. The Kurds regard them with the greatest
      suspicion. As we drove to the KDP headquarters, one of
      the Kurdish bodyguards told me to "hide your notebook
      and pen if we stop at a police checkpoint, because we
      don't trust them". The Kurds have long accused senior
      police officers of being crypto-Baathists, sympathetic
      to the insurgents.

      The US experience in Mosul has not been happy. During
      the first year of the occupation General David
      Petraeus, the US commander of the 101st Division,
      tried to conciliate the many officers and officials of
      Saddan Hussein's regime who came from Mosul. In the
      long term the experiment failed. When US marines
      stormed Fallujah in November 2004, most of the police
      in Mosul resigned, and insurgents captured 30 police
      stations and $40m (£21m) worth of arms almost without
      firing a shot. The US was forced to call in Kurdish
      peshmerga fighters to retake the city.

      The US and Kurds still co-operate. The Americans are
      highly reliant on Kurdish intelligence to search for
      guerrillas. But they are also conscious that a recent
      confidential Pentagon poll leaked to ABC television
      showed that 75 per cent of Sunni Arabs in Iraq
      supported armed resistance. The US forces, who used to
      have four bases in the city, have now retreated to one
      large base at the airport.

      A final explosion may not be far away. Under article
      140 of the new Iraqi constitution, there must be a
      vote by the end of 2007 to decide which regions will
      join the KRG. Mr Goran says that such a poll could see
      all of Mosul province east of the Tigris and the
      districts of Sinjar and Talafar to the west of the
      river joining the KRG. "As we get closer to the
      implementation of article 140, the problems will get
      worse," he says.

      Patrick Cockburn's The Occupation: War and Resistance
      in Iraq will be published by Verso on 9 October
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Intelligence report blow to Bush's war on terror

      Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
      Wednesday September 27, 2006
      The Guardian

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1881772,00.html

      George Bush yesterday suffered a blow to his argument
      that the removal of Saddam Hussein had made Americans
      safer after he ordered the release of an intelligence
      report warning the war in Iraq had become a "cause
      celebre for jihadists".
      Mr Bush's decision to declassify a small portion of a
      leaked National Intelligence Estimate, six weeks
      before the midterm elections, was seen as an attempt
      to get in front of Democratic critics, led by Bill
      Clinton, who accuse the administration of not doing
      enough to catch Osama bin Laden.

      After five years of relative civility, the unspoken
      entente cordiale between the Bush and Clinton
      administrations to avoid assigning blame for the 9/11
      attacks came to an abrupt end yesterday, with both
      leaders and their aides fighting for their respective
      legacies. But Mr Bush's "war on terror" narrative was
      contradicted by the report.
      "The Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of
      terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist
      success [in Iraq] would inspire more fighters to
      continue the struggle elsewhere," it said.

      "The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for
      jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US
      involvement in the Muslim world. If this trend
      continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad
      will become more diverse, leading to increasing
      attacks worldwide."

      The report, reflecting a consensus of 16 intelligence
      agencies, acknowledged some US success in disrupting
      al-Qaida. But it said these gains were outweighed by
      other factors, fuelling al-Qaida's spread: anger at
      corrupt Muslim regimes, anti-US sentiment, and a
      decentralised leadership that made it harder to
      penetrate.

      It also predicted further attacks in Europe as
      "extremist networks inside the extensive Muslim
      diasporas in Europe facilitate recruitment and
      staging".

      The damaging assessment was expected to intensify the
      struggle to apportion blame in the war on terror in
      the run-up to November congressional elections.

      Democrats have been energised by the row with
      strategist James Carville saying the party had gained
      a "spinal implant".

      An informal truce between Republicans and Democrats
      began unravelling this month when an ABC docu-drama
      portrayed Clinton-era officials as being unconcerned
      about al-Qaida.

      Democrats denounced the programme, forcing the network
      to make changes, but Mr Clinton reserved his full
      wrath for last weekend when he told Fox television he
      had done more than Mr Bush to try to kill Bin Laden.
      "That's the difference in me and some, including all
      of the right-wingers who are attacking me now," he
      said. "They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight
      months to try, they did not try."

      Allies on both sides have since waded in. In New York,
      secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, accused the
      Clinton administration of failing to leave a plan for
      fighting al-Qaida. But a few blocks away from the
      White House Ms Rice's Clinton-era predecessor,
      Madeleine Albright, was accusing Mr Bush of adopting
      damaging policies because of his strong beliefs.

      "If certainties such as the war in Iraq and the axis
      of evil are based on a religious belief that God is on
      our side - versus we should be on God's side as
      Lincoln said - then certitude creates foreign policy
      problems," Ms Albright said.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Bush in 'State of Denial': Woodward
      Islamonline.net & News Agencies

      http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2006-09/29/06.shtml

      WASHINGTON — Hemmed in by his ideological rigidities,
      George W. Bush stands obstinately behind his claims
      that the state in Iraq is going for the better despite
      the increasing number of attacks against US troops,
      says a new book by famed American writer Bob Woodward.

      "The assessment by intelligence experts is that next
      year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you
      have the president and you have the Pentagon (saying)
      'Oh, no, things are going to get better,'" Woodward
      told CBS "60 Minutes" program in an interview taped
      for broadcast on Sunday in advance of the release of
      his new book "State of Denial," Reuters reported
      Friday, September 29.

      Woodward, who helped a key role in exposing the
      Watergate scandal that forced former President Richard
      Nixon to resign in 1974, said attacks against US-led
      forces in Iraq occurred, on average, every 15 minutes.

      "It's getting to the point now where there are eight,
      900 attacks a week. That's more than a hundred a day.
      That is four an hour attacking our forces," said
      Woodward, a veteran Washington Post reporter.

      Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003 on the grounds that
      Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

      A recent US presidential report revealed that the
      United States was "dead wrong" on Iraq’s alleged WMDs
      and its officials made the case for invading the
      oil-rich country despite intelligence doubts and
      strong voices of dissent.

      Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell regretted
      his UN statement making the case for the US-led Iraq
      invasion, saying it was a "blot" on his record.

      Adamancy

      According to Woodward, Bush was absolutely certain he
      was on the right course on Iraq, dismissing as too
      pessimistic assessments from American commanders and
      others about the situation there, The New York Times
      reported Saturday.

      "I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the
      only ones supporting me," the book quoted Bush,
      referring to his wife and Scottish terrier, in a
      meeting with key Republicans to the White House to
      discuss Iraq.

      The book also says that the White House ignored an
      urgent warning in September 2003 that thousands of
      additional American troops were desperately needed to
      quell "insurgency" in Iraq.

      "I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an
      insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet," the book
      quoted Bush as saying in November 2003.

      In the weeks before the Iraq war began, the book
      recounts, President Bush’s parents did not also share
      his confidence that the invasion of Iraq was the right
      step, the book recounts.

      Former President George H. W. Bush, "is certainly
      worried and is losing sleep over it; he’s up at night
      worried," the book quoted Mrs Barbar Bush as saying.

      The book is the third that Woodward has written
      chronicling the inner debates in the White House after
      the Sept. 11 attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan, and
      the subsequent decision to invade Iraq.

      Woodward's book is based on interviews with Bush’s
      national security team, their deputies, and other
      senior and key players in the administration
      responsible for the military, the diplomacy, and the
      intelligence on Iraq.

      Some of those interviewed, including Defense Secretary
      Donald Rumsfeld, are identified by name, but neither
      Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney agreed to be
      interviewed, the book says.

      Division

      The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction
      and division over the war.

      It says President Bush’s top advisers were often at
      odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on
      speaking terms.

      The book, for instance, describes a deep fissure
      between Powell and Rumsfeld.

      When Powell was eased out after the 2004 elections, he
      told Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of
      staff, that "if I go, Don should go," referring to
      Rumsfeld.

      Mr. Card then made a concerted effort to oust Mr.
      Rumsfeld at the end of 2005, according to the book,
      but was overruled by President Bush, who feared that
      it would disrupt the coming Iraqi elections and
      operations at the Pentagon.

      American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P.
      Abizaid, is also reported to have told visitors to his
      headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that
      "Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore" to
      make a public case for the American strategy for
      victory in Iraq.

      A cohort of American experts had told The New York
      Times that the Bush administration's Iraq strategy has
      failed and needs to be changed.

      The Washington Post reported in July that many
      American soldiers were growing increasingly
      disillusioned about the Iraq war and their ability to
      succeed against an elusive enemy.

      The unpopularity of the Iraq war has many Republicans
      nervous about the party's chances in the November
      midterm elections in which Democrats are seeking to
      retake control of the US House of Representatives and
      the Senate.
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