Archive for April, 2004

Just saw this on the BBC, and it's a disgrace.

April 30, 2004 Leave a comment

Iraqi abuse photos spark shock

Click to watch the CBS TV pictures (need RealPlayer)

Images of US soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners at a notorious jail near Baghdad have sparked shock and anger.

Politicians in the US, Britain and the Middle East expressed disgust at the images, broadcast on US television, and called for those responsible to face justice.

CBS News said it delayed the broadcast for two weeks after a request from the Pentagon due to the tensions in Iraq.

Last month, the US army suspended 17 soldiers over alleged prisoner abuses.

Elsewhere in Iraq, US marines have begun withdrawing from the Iraqi city of Falluja after a month of bloody clashes with rebels.

“Saddam Hussein’s prisoners were not only tortured but executed. It was much worse than what is there now.”
Adnan Al-Pachachi
Iraqi Governing Council

Two battalions have been pulling back from front-line positions and are set to move further out during the day.

A new Iraqi force, led by one of Saddam Hussein’s former generals, is expected to move into the city while the US maintains a presence outside the flashpoint city.


Six soldiers – including a brigadier general – are facing court martial in Iraq, and a possible prison term over the PoW pictures.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was “appalled” and described the incident as regrettable.

“Nobody underestimates how wrong this is, but these actions are not representative of the 150,000 coalition soldiers in Iraq. We shouldn’t judge the actions of coalition soldiers as a whole by the actions of a few,” he said.

US Republican congressman, Jim Leach – who had opposed the war – said: “The US has historically prided itself on treating prisoners of war with decency and respect.

“This has to be investigated and accountability obtained within the American military justice system.”

Adnan Al-Pachachi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said it would create a great deal of anger and discontent among Iraqis already concerned about security in the country.

But he rejected a comparison with the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad during the days of Saddam Hussein.

“I don’t think you can compare the two. Saddam Hussein’s prisoners were not only tortured but executed. It was much worse than what is there now.”

The graphic images include one of a hooded and naked prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his genitals. CBS said the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted.

Another shows naked prisoners being forced to simulate sex acts. In another, a female soldier, with a cigarette in her mouth, simulates holding a gun and pointing at a naked Iraqi’s genitals.

“We had no support, no training. I kept asking my chain of command for certain things… like rules and regulations.”
Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick – One of the suspended soldiers

CBS’s flagship 60 Minutes programme said it had been pressured by the Pentagon not to show the images, until the photos started circulating elsewhere.

“The Pentagon was really very concerned about broadcasting the pictures, and I think they had good reason,” said 60 Minute executive producer Jeff Fager.

“The idea that there are hostages being held in Iraq concerned us quite a bit in terms of broadcasting them. It wouldn’t take long to get on Al-Jazeera at all.”

Mr Fager told the BBC’s Today programme the pictures were initially brought to the attention of US military in Iraq, and formed the centrepiece of proceedings against the soldiers.

‘No training’

One of the suspended soldiers, Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick, said the way the army ran the prison had led to the abuse.

“We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things… like rules and regulations,” he told CBS. “It just wasn’t happening.”

He said he did not see a copy of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after he was charged.

Deputy head of coalition forces in Iraq, Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt told CBS the army was “appalled” by the behaviour of its soldiers.

He said the suspected abusers “let their fellow soldiers down”.

Meanwhile, a new opinion poll for the New York Times and CBS News suggested dwindling support among Americans for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Only 47% of 1,042 Americans questioned believed invading Iraq was the right thing to do, the lowest support recorded in the polls since the war began.


What the hell? American soldiers shouldn’t treat prisoners like this; it’s counter-productive and makes us look like thugs. I also find it shocking that I’m not seeing this on the front page of either the WaPo or the NY Times yet. CNN has the story and so does a lot of European media sources.

I support the war. I’ll never support the abuse of prisoners in our care, even when the enemy doesn’t give a damn about how they treat any of our troops. That’s not the point. We’re supposed to be better than that. I particularly note the reaction of the staff sergeant Chip Frederick:

“We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things… like rules and regulations,” he told CBS. “It just wasn’t happening.”

He said he did not see a copy of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after he was charged.

Here’s the story on Sergeant Frederick. He’s a corrections officer in Virginia, whose warden described him as “one of the best.” He knows how civilian prisoners should be treated. I’m assuming he’s got the experience to know how to treat prisoners, civilian or military, correctly. He’s not solely at fault here as blame is also being laid on interrogators who came into the prison from various intelligence agencies, who asked the reservists on duty in the prison to help prepare the prisoners mentally and physically for interrogation, as well as the incompetent command of Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinsky, the general in charge of Abu Ghraib and two other facilities. Still. Sergeant Frederick was in charge, and is responsible for the actions of the soldiers under his command. He has failed in his duties. He failed, as an NCO, to maintain basic standards of military order and discipline. He failed, as an American soldier, to maintain the highest standards of conduct required by the United States Government. He failed, as a human being, to afford even the slightest bit of dignity and respect to those placed under his care. To only offer excuses that blame everyone else but himself is but the final stain. He was the guy in charge of this prison and will face a tribunal, along with the others being charged.

CBS’s story can be found here:

Categories: Personal

Spain has apparently decided to replace Belgium as France and Germany's friend.

April 29, 2004 Leave a comment

Spain to Float Iraq Proposal to France, Germany

April 27 — By Estelle Shirbon

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain will discuss with anti-war allies Germany and France how to find a solution to the conflict in Iraq within the United Nations framework, a Spanish government source said Tuesday.

“The idea is to see if Spain, France and Germany can help the United States find a solution in Iraq…and devise a formula for an international presence there that would not be perceived as an occupation by most of the population,” the source said.

New Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose first decision on taking office was to withdraw troops sent to Iraq by his predecessor, said Tuesday the last of Spain’s soldiers will have left Iraq by May 27.

Zapatero will discuss Iraq during talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin Wednesday and with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris Thursday.

The Socialist leader is a strong advocate of acting within the United Nations framework.

Any joint Spanish-French-German initiative would probably unfold in the U.N. Security Council — all three are members — though the source said the form it might take had not been decided.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has mentioned the possibility of sending Arab forces into Iraq, and of a future international presence that would not include soldiers from countries which have been a part of the U.S.-led coalition.

Under Zapatero’s predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, Spain was a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year and sent forces there after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

France and Germany were the leading opponents of military intervention in Iraq and neither joined the coalition.

Zapatero was elected on March 14, three days after the train bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid. During the election campaign, he had pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq unless the United Nations took political and military control of the country by June 30.


The money line? “Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has mentioned the possibility of sending Arab forces into Iraq, and of a future international presence that would not include soldiers from countries which have been a part of the U.S.-led coalition.”

Yeah, let’s toss out all of those awful countries who are actually there now on the ground and working to bring Iraq into the democratic family of nations. In return, let’s turn it over to those countries who are most anxious to maintain the status quo in the Middle East. You know, the status quo that led to both 9/11 and 3/11. What a wonderful idea.

Of course, this whole story implies that these three states will actually be able to do squat about the situation in Iraq. If memory serves, France, Belgium, Germany and Luxemborg vowed to form their own military organization separate from NATO due to their disagreeing with the rest of Europe’s support for the United States in the run-up to war in Iraq. Yeah, that didn’t really go anywhere either.

Moment of Zen

Flying Saucer Fever Grips Iran, Theories Abound

Categories: Personal

Spooky's also working in Fallujah.

April 27, 2004 Leave a comment
Categories: Personal

Spooky's working in Najaf.

April 27, 2004 Leave a comment


43 insurgents dead in Najaf fighting

A number of insurgents have been killed in fierce fighting with US-led coalition forces near the central Iraqi city of Najaf, a military spokeswoman says.

The spokeswoman says an AC-130 aircraft has killed 43 anti-coalition forces and destroyed an anti-aircraft system.

An AFP correspondent reports that fighting broke out between US troops and Iraqi militia loyal to wanted Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr at an entrance to the southern city of Kufa, about 10 kilometres from Najaf.

Heavy gunfire and the sound of mortar explosions have been heard, the correspondent says.

A member of Sadr’s Mehdi Army told the correspondent the militia had clashed with a US Army unit at the northern entrance of Kufa, about 160 kilometres south of Baghdad, and on the outskirts of Najaf.

At around 1:00am (local time) on Tuesday, the clashes subsided and the firing became intermittent.

“The clashes … are a provocation, but the red line has still not yet been crossed,” Qais al-Khazaali, a Mehdi Army spokesman, told Al-Jazeera television.

“To enter Najaf means to pour scorn on the Muslim holy places whether they are Sunni or Shiite. But we are ready, we are organised and we are coordinated.”


To give an idea of how on earth a C-130 Hercules can kill 43 people and destroy an anti-aircraft position, I present the AC-130U Spectre (or Spooky) Developed during the Vietnam War for close-air support, these aircraft are a cargo aircraft converted into a flying artillery base, capable of either putting a 4” artillery round through a window, saturating areas the size of a football field with 20mm or 25mm rounds, or plinking individual vehicles with a 2-pound 40mm shell.For a good comparison, think of an old-style ship of the line, with a side lined with tank-killing Gatlings that can hurl 1,800 rounds a minute, howitzers that can fire 6-10 rounds a minute and Vulcan autocannon. Now imagine it making a tight and slow circle around a specified position, lighting up those weapons, and having enough ammunition to actually sustain the above rates of fire for more than a few minutes. If they’re on your side, they’re your best friend for close-in air support. If not, you never want them anywhere near you, especially if you can’t shoot them down.

Moment of Zen

Man Takes Neighbor to Court for Laughs

Categories: Personal

Congress took a sensible ego trip. Sometimes, it *is* indispensable.

April 26, 2004 Leave a comment

House OKs Speedy Elections if Attacked:

Apr 22, 4:33 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) – Fearing that terrorists might target Congress, the House on Thursday approved a bill to set up speedy special elections if 100 or more of its members are killed.

The House, in a 306-97 vote, put aside for now the larger issue of whether the Constitution should be amended to allow for temporary appointments in the event that an attack caused mass fatalities among lawmakers.

The House, said Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., sponsor of the elections bill and a foe of appointments, “is rooted in democratic principles and those principles must be preserved at all costs.”

Thursday’s vote came two and a half years after the Sept. 11 attacks and the crash in Pennsylvania of United Flight 93, a plane that many believe was destined for the U.S. Capitol.

“Those passengers gave their lives to give us a second chance,” said Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., a supporter of the broader constitutional approach. “Eternal shame on us if we do not take action” to protect Congress’ survival after a possible attack.

The measure would require special elections within 45 days of the House speaker confirming that a catastrophic event had left at last 100 of the 435 seats vacant. Language was added to ensure that military personnel stationed overseas would have their voting rights protected.


My only question is: Why didn’t they think of this during the 80’s? Better late than never, I suppose.

Categories: Personal

Huh. Mention your website and more foreigners hit it.

April 21, 2004 Leave a comment

According to my logs, Norway got shoved into 11th place as Israel hits my server 57 times.

Interestingly enough, this link seems to be the overall favorite:

Categories: Personal

Good friends, political opponents.

April 21, 2004 Leave a comment

I was perusing my iChat list when I saw that one of my friends, a former Deaniac, now has his icon sporting a John Kerry campaign sign. He occasionally sends me mass-missives (I’ll not call them spams) where he tries to get me and other of his friends to help support a variety of liberal causes. I haven’t agreed with a single one of them. Not the call for Dean donations. Not the call to boycott companies who aired ads during the Super Bowl because CBS wouldn’t air’s ad. Not the recent message to sign a petition at calling for a transfer of authority over Iraq to the UN. Not one.

And that’s fine. I send him a long email in response detailing why I think he’s wrong, he sends one back rebutting, and if I’m juiced enough, I’ll send one back elaborating my position. And so and so forth. Poor man even mentioned that he thought I should know better about certain positions, as I have a history degree and follow current events. It woke my Inner Pedant, and he got a *very* long email. Still friends though. We both recognize that our politics will never agree, but we’ll never get nasty with each other. Makes you wonder why more people can’t be that way?

In case anyone’s wondering, my current political leanings are just about perfectly summed up by this group: The Truman National Security Project

Categories: Personal

How on earth are people finding my site?

April 21, 2004 Leave a comment

I run Webalizer on my website, mainly to satisfy my own morbid curiosity on what people are looking for when they come to my site. Not that I’m going to redesign it to suit any whim but my own, but I’m still interested.

This month, I’ve had 32517 hits. Not that that means much as most of them, as usual, seem to be search bots. But here’s how I popped up on Google searches:

5 hits
greek war

3 hits
roman armor

2 hits
big shark tank

1 hit
armless statue

1 hit

1 hit
colonial-era coins

1 hit
created the sorcerer’s stone

1 hit
freshwater aquarium fishies

1 hit
greek and pottery

1 hit
greek helmets

greek statue

1 hit
inside westminster abbey

1 hit
madame tussaud

1 hit
madame tussaud%27s

1 hit
map tower of london

1 hit
sharks in britain

1 hit
the tower of london%2bmap

1 hit
vladimir lenin

What nations decided to visit?

28847 hits

2292 hits
Network (note: that’s my internal network. In other words, that’s my box hitting itself.)

772 hits
US Commercial

142 hits
US Educational

112 hits

91 hits

73 hits
United Kingdom

70 hits

61 hits
United States (my question is, if it’s not US government, commercial, non-profit, or educational, what’s left?)

32 hits

10 hits

6 hits
Non-Profit Organization

4 hits

1 hit
US Government (yeah, that’s probably me.)

1 hit
US Military

1 hit

1 hit

1 hit

Of course, that still leaves one question. Why on earth are they coming to my site?

Moment of Zen

Gang of Deaf Thieves Jailed

Categories: Personal

Small details, small details.

April 13, 2004 Leave a comment

I’m a big fan of Apple’s web browser Safari, but there was one thing it was missing: a print button. I found out today that you can actually set up a bookmark that calls a simple javascript that allows you to print. Here’s how it works:

Just hightlight the text below and drag it up to the bookmarks bar in Safari. When you drop it, Safari will ask you to name the bookmark – say “Print” or whatever else suits your fancy. The next time you need to print in Safari, just click the bookmark and you’ll be presented with a print window.


As an added bonus, for those of you who use .Mac and iSync to synchronize your bookmarks between machines, you’ll get the same functionality added to all your copies of Safari the next time you sync.

Another small detail that I recently picked up on is found on the 2004 US nickel. If you take a look at the back, Monticello is no longer in the house. Instead, there’s an engraving of clasped hands celebrating the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, arguably the greatest real estate deal that the United States ever entered into.

Moment of Zen

A Mobile Phone That Goes Off with a Bang

Categories: Personal

I've come to the conclusion….

April 6, 2004 Leave a comment

That if you want to read about my life, don’t read this blog. Read somebody else’s, like La’s or Jords. Seriously. I haven’t talked about myself since Valentine’s Day. has a theory that it’s because I put myself last when it’s a choice between myself and somebody I care about. Or in this blog’s case, an issue I care about.

But I digress, and will proceed to talk about myself now. I went to the Dr. today, a good one that recommended, to have a general physical done and have my incipient sleep apnea taken a look at. (For those not familiar with sleep apnea, my symptoms are godawful snoring combined with occasional momentary cessation of breathing. It’s the cessation of breathing that worries me.)

The verdict, pending my blood work, is that I am (amazingly enough) in pretty good health. My EKG came back normal. My blood pressure was 120/90, which is getting towards the high end of normal. I got the “You need to lose weight” lecture along with the “New girlfriend? Bet she’s why you’re eating better, and also why you’re at the doctor for the first time in God only knows how long” conversation. It’s true, all true. I also am now pretty confused as to exactly how much I weigh, as I was weighed on one scale where I was within 5lbs. of my guessed body weight. However, that scale refused to give an exact weight, so they dragged me off to another where I weighed an amazing 40 additional pounds over my guessed body weight. I’ll settle it to my own satisfaction at the gym tonight, as I am not “, the living boulder.” God only knows how they marked it down on my chart.

Upshot is that I have a prescription for athlete’s foot salve, and a generally clean bill of health. Yay!

Moment of Zen

Gymnast’s Skills Save Him in Fourth-Floor Fall

Categories: Personal
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