Iraq War

  Widening Dissent in US Military over IraqApril 27, 2007 23:00 An army officer has published a report blaming US generals for botching the Iraq war and misleading the US congress about the situation there.

"America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. The intellectual and moral failures . . . constitute a crisis in American generals, “stated Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, Iraq veteran and deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

His article, “General Failure”, featured in the US publication Armed Forces Journal, reflects conflicts of interest and divisions within the US military across the board.

This is the first time that charges of this magnitude have been made public by a US officer.

Most significant is his criticism aimed towards Generals and Lieutenants, charging the top brass of being incompetent in their leadership and executing war strategies.

"After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public," he writes.

"For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq."
  Tenet Details Efforts To Justify Invading Iraq - Washingtonpost.ComApril 27, 2007 22:51 White House and Pentagon officials, and particularly Vice President Cheney, were determined to attack Iraq from the first days of the Bush administration, long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and repeatedly stretched available intelligence to build support for the war, according to a new book by former CIA director George J. Tenet.

Although Tenet does not question the threat Saddam Hussein posed or the sincerity of administration beliefs, he recounts numerous efforts by aides to Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to insert "crap" into public justifications for the war. Tenet also describes an ongoing fear within the intelligence community of the administration's willingness to "mischaracterize complex intelligence information."

Former CIA director George J. Tenet says he was a scapegoat. (J. Scott Applewhite - AP)
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AUDIO | The Washington Post's Walter Pincus dicscusses Former CIA director George J. Tenet's memoir scheduled for release on Monday, in which Tenet will offer his version of events and of conversations preceding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

"There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraq threat," Tenet writes in "At the Center of the Storm," to be released Monday by HarperCollins. The debate "was not about imminence but about acting before Saddam did."

White House counselor Dan Bartlett yesterday called Tenet a "true patriot" but disputed his conclusions, saying "the president did wrestle with those very serious questions." Responding to reports from the book in yesterday's New York Times, Bartlett suggested that the former CIA director might have been unaware of all the discussions.
  Senate Approves War Funding Bill, Timeline For Iraq Troop PulloutApril 26, 2007 14:11 The U.S. Senate, following the lead of the House of Representatives, has approved a compromise bill that funds military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it also sets a goal of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by early next year - a provision that President Bush says will force him to veto the measure as soon as he receives it. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

The Democratic-led Senate voted largely along party lines to approve the legislation, which is a compromise between earlier bills passed by the House of Representatives and Senate.

The measure includes about $95 billion to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30. It also calls for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq beginning in October or earlier, if President Bush determines the Iraqis have not met certain benchmarks, including disarming militias and taking steps toward a unity government.

The bill sets a non-binding goal of completing a withdrawal of combat troops by April first of next year.

It would allow for the continued deployment of some non-combat forces who are pursuing terrorist networks or training Iraqi troops.

Many Democrats used debate on the bill to reiterate their criticism of President Bush's handling of the war.
  Republicans Pledge To Uphold Bush Iraq VetoApril 26, 2007 10:30 Senate Republicans promised Thursday to uphold President Bush's veto on a bill that would order troops home from Iraq. Democrats said they would pass it anyway.

"The president has failed in his mission to bring peace and stability to the people of Iraq," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He later added: "It's time to bring our troops home from Iraq."

The Senate vote comes a day after the House passed the measure by a 218-208 vote. The $124.2 billion bill requires troop withdrawals to begin Oct. 1, or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain benchmarks.

The debate came as the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, told reporters at the Pentagon that that the war effort likely will "get harder before it gets easier."

The bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pullout by April 1, 2008, allowing for forces conducting certain noncombat missions, such as attacking terrorist networks or training Iraqi forces, to remain.

  House Panel Votes To Subpoena Rice On IraqApril 25, 2007 13:27 U.S. Democratic lawmakers voted on Wednesday to subpoena Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to testify about administration justifications for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

On a party-line vote of 21-10, the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee directed Rice to appear before the panel next month.

Republicans accused Democrats of a "fishing expedition." But Democrats said they want Rice to explain what she knew about administration's warnings, later proven false, that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger for nuclear arms.

"There was one person in the White House who had primary responsibility to get the intelligence about Iraq right -- and that was Secretary Rice who was then President George W. Bush's national security adviser," said committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.
  Obama Accuses Giuliani Of Fear-MongeringApril 25, 2007 09:26 Democrat Barack Obama rebuked Republican White House rival Rudy Giuliani Wednesday for suggesting the United States could face another major terrorist attack if a Democrat is elected in 2008.

Obama, an Illinois senator, said the man who served as New York mayor's during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks should not be making the serious threat that faces the country into "the punchline of another political attack."

"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics," Obama said in a statement. "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9-11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure."

Giuliani's comment Tuesday in New Hampshire echoed sentiments expressed by other Republicans in election time. The former mayor said if a Democrat is elected, "it sounds to me like we're going on defense. We're going to wave the white flag there."

  Walls Will Increase Violence, Specialists SayApril 23, 2007 11:51 Baghdad specialists and citizens have hit out against the US strategy of building walls around Sunni districts that are surrounded by Shia areas. They say such barriers would worsen the lives of thousands of Iraqis and would increase violence.

"When they build barriers, automatically they are assuming the existence of religious and ethnic differences in Iraq, reinforcing the fighting groups' beliefs," Jassem al-Rheiri, a sociology professor at Baghdad University, said.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said during a visit to Egypt on Sunday that the construction of such walls, particularly the one in the mainly Sunni Adhamiya district, should be halted by US troops. He had been under pressure from Sunni communities who complained that their neighbourhoods were being turned into ghettoes that would choke off life in their areas.

"I oppose the building of the wall, and its construction will stop. There are other methods to protect neighbourhoods," al-Maliki told reporters in Egypt. However, it appears his statement has been ignored as locals say the walls continue to be built by US troops.

US officials have said the barriers they began building on 10 April should be finished by the end of April.

  Deadlock Over War Spending Bill Continues - Los Angeles TimesApril 23, 2007 09:58 Hours before House and Senate negotiators were scheduled to begin writing a compromise bill to provide about $100 billion to prosecute the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush today reiterated his demand that the legislation include no timetable for withdrawing the troops.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), in a written copy of a speech he planned to deliver later in the day, said Congress would soon send Bush a bill including "a fair and reasonable timetable" for withdrawing U.S. combat troops.

The House version of the war-funding bill includes a timetable according to which troops must leave Iraq. The Senate version contains guidelines for withdrawal.

Either way, Bush has promised a veto. The question now is: How will Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress break their deadlock over a timeline and produce a bill that will pay for the war effort through the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30?

The deadlock seemed unbreakable today.
  Senate Leader Says 'War Is Lost' In IraqApril 20, 2007 09:37 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday the war in Iraq is "lost," triggering an angry backlash by Republicans, who said the top Democrat had turned his back on the troops.

The bleak assessment -- the most pointed yet from Reid -- came as the House voted 215-199 to uphold legislation ordering troops out of Iraq next year.

Reid said he told President Bush on Wednesday he thought the war could not be won through military force, although he said the U.S. could still pursue political, economic and diplomatic means to bring peace to Iraq.

"I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and -- you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows -- (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," said Reid, D-Nevada.

Republicans pounced on the comment as evidence, they said, that Democrats do not support the troops.
  No Budge On Iraq War Funding BillApril 19, 2007 10:07 Moving closer to a showdown over funding the war in Iraq, President Bush and congressional Democratic leaders emerged from a much-anticipated White House meeting Wednesday without progress toward ending an impasse over an emergency spending bill.

Despite Bush's veto threat, the Democrats continued to press ahead with legislation that would force the administration to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.

"We cannot give the president a blank check," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said after the meeting, which included House and Senate Republican leaders.

Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other senior Democratic lawmakers are intensifying their efforts to unite congressional Democrats behind a single plan for bringing U.S. forces home.

Last month, the House and Senate passed different versions of the war funding bill. The House measure set an August 2008 deadline for withdrawing virtually all U.S. combat forces; the Senate legislation calls for withdrawal to begin within four months of the bill's enactment and sets a nonbinding "goal" for completing redeployment by March.
  US Military Death Toll Tops 3.300 In IraqApril 17, 2007 11:47 As of Monday, April 16, 2007, at least 3,308 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,682 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is 12 higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Monday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 142 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 19; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, six; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, one death each.

  Majority Expect U.S. Will 'Lose' In IraqApril 17, 2007 09:49 A bare majority of Americans for the first time believe the United States will lose the war in Iraq, and a new high — two-thirds — say the war was not worth fighting. Yet the public divides on setting a deadline for withdrawal.

That mix of sentiments — unhappy with the war, unclear what to do about it — is keeping George W. Bush in deep disfavor. Just 35 percent approve of his job performance overall, a scant two points above his career low. And just 29 percent like how he's dealing with the situation in Iraq.

Moreover, in a shift, most Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll now reject Bush's argument that winning in Iraq is necessary to win the broader war against terrorism. Fifty-seven percent disagree with that contention, up from 47 percent in January. That echoes a change that appeared in January and continues today in which most (56 percent) now favor eventual withdrawal even if civil order is not restored.

  Bush Urges Democrats Set Aside Iraq Pullout DateApril 16, 2007 14:16 President George W. Bush and Democrats in charge of the U.S. Congress set themselves on a collision course on Monday over Bush's $100 billion funding request for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Ahead of crucial White House talks on Wednesday, Bush set conditions for discussions with Democrats on the request, saying he would not consider a troop withdrawal deadline nor billions of dollars in extra spending.

"I hope the Democratic leadership will drop their unreasonable demand for a precipitous withdrawal," Bush said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, immediately rejected Bush's call for a funding bill with no conditions.

"The president is not going to get a bill that has nothing on it," Reid told reporters. "It would be wrong for this legislative branch of government to capitulate to this wrong-headed policy that the vice president and the president have been leading," he added.
  Stretched Thinner: Army Extends Iraq Tours To 15 MonthsApril 11, 2007 21:50 Stretched thin by four years of war, the Army is adding three months to the standard yearlong tour for all active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, an extraordinary step aimed at maintaining the troop buildup in Baghdad.

The change, announced Wednesday by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is the latest blow to an all-volunteer Army that has been given ever-shorter periods of rest and retraining at home between overseas deployments.

Rather than continue to shrink the at-home intervals to a point that might compromise soldiers' preparedness for combat, Gates chose to lengthen combat tours to buy time for units newly returned from battle. The longer tours will affect about 100,000 soldiers currently in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus untold thousands more who deploy later. It does not affect the Marine Corps or the National Guard or Reserve.

"Our forces are stretched, there's no question about that," Gates said.

The extended tours are a price the Army must pay to sustain the troop buildup that President Bush ordered in January as part of his rejiggered strategy for stabilizing Baghdad and averting a U.S. defeat. Troop levels are being boosted from 15 brigades to 20 brigades, and in order to keep that up beyond summer the Army faced harsh choices: Either send units to Iraq with less than 12 months at home, or extend tours.
  Bush Invites Party Leaders To Discuss War Bill, But Dems DeclineApril 10, 2007 20:11 President Bush today invited congressional leaders of both parties to the White House next week to talk about legislation to pay for the war in Iraq, but Democrats promptly dismissed his offer because it carried a condition that Congress drop a timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq.

"The clock is ticking for our troops in the field," Bush told an American Legion post in this suburb about 20 miles west of the White House. Without quick action by Congress, he said, the military could be forced next month to redirect funds from training and repair work to pay for the war.

The president also complained that the separate House-passed and Senate-passed war-spending bills tacked considerable pork-barrel domestic spending onto the $100 billion or so allocated for the war. He said congressional leaders should take advantage of their visit to the White House to agree on a measure providing money just for the war.

But congressional Democrats showed no sign of accepting Bush's formula for a White House meeting. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) complained that Bush was setting non-negotiable conditions for the talks.

"He wants a clean bill," Reid said after consulting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). "That's not negotiating."

  Senate Dems Up Ante On Bush After Veto ThreatApril 02, 2007 15:57 The Senate's top Democrat is threatening to spearhead an effort to end most of the Iraq war funding if President Bush follows through on a promise to veto a loosely worded timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops.

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is joining Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, in sponsoring a new Iraq bill that would end the majority of Iraq war funding after March 31, 2008, the day Senate Democrats originally proposed pulling troops out of the war-ravaged nation.

The bill would permit spending in only three areas: fighting al Qaeda, training Iraqis and protecting the U.S. Embassy and personnel.

Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, concedes earning the bill's passage will be no easy task.

"This is an uphill battle, but it's the next step in a series of things to try and change the president's policy in Iraq," Manley said.

White House spokesman Dana Perino responded by accusing Democrats of changing their stance on Iraq. "It's almost shifting so fast, it's like a sandstorm," she said.