February 28, 2006

US Missions Accomplished

Iraq is turning into Lebanon.

The International Crisis Group (headed by Gareth Evans) has issued a report saying that Iraq is on the verge of breaking up:
Urging the outside world to brace itself for the collapse of Iraq, it warned: "Until now such an effort has been a taboo, but failure to anticipate such a possibility may lead to further disasters in the future."
More here.

Of course, Afghanistan has been Lebanon-ized for some time now. And speaking of Afghanistan, here's something else nobody wants to talk about:
Pentagon officials have often described Bagram, a cavernous former machine shop on a US air base 65 kilometres north of Kabul, as a screening centre. They said most of the prisoners were Afghans who might eventually be released under an amnesty program or transferred to an Afghan prison that is to be built with US aid.

But some prisoners have already been at Bagram for three years, and unlike those at Guantanamo they have no access to lawyers, no right to hear the allegations against them and only rudimentary reviews of their status as "enemy combatants", officials said.

Privately, some US officials admit the situation at Bagram has come to resemble the legal void that led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June 2004 affirming the right of prisoners at Guantanamo to challenge their detention in US courts.

Bagram has operated in rigorous secrecy since it opened in 2002. It bars visitors except for members of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and refuses to name those held there. The prison may not be photographed, even from a distance.

Men are held by the dozen in large wire cages, sleeping on the floor on foam mats and, until about a year ago, often using plastic buckets for toilets. Before recent renovations they rarely saw daylight except for brief visits to a small exercise yard.

"Bagram was never meant to be a long-term facility, and now it's a long-term facility without the money or resources," said one Defence Department official who has toured the prison. Comparing it with Guantanamo, he said: "Anyone who has been to Bagram would tell you it's worse."
Also in Afghanistan, a little poetic justice (of the most grisly, violent type imaginable) may be getting played out in the Pul-i-Charki prison:
Shouts of "Allah Akbar (God is great)", "Death to America" and "Death to Karzai" could be heard as an American predator spy drone circled overhead....

Rioters in the criminal block are claiming to hold three US hostages. Jack Idema, a former member of the US Special Forces, jailed in 2004 for running a private prison in Kabul, and two accomplices are in Pul-i-Charki.

"The prisoners in that block shouted to us that they had the Americans and they would kill them if the police continued shooting at the block. We could not see the Americans with them, so we don't know if they have them hostage or not," an army officer said. An Afghan Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed the Americans were in the jail but said: "We don't think so far that the prisoners have got access to them."
Meanwhile, Halliburton gets paid to waste money:
The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified.

The Army said in response to questions on Friday that questionable business practices by the subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, had in some cases driven up the company's costs. But in the haste and peril of war, it had largely done as well as could be expected, the Army said, and aside from a few penalties, the government was compelled to reimburse the company for its costs...
Link via Shining A Light.

Latest US poll:
Do you think the United States should pull out of Iraq now?

Yes: 47.8%

No: 44.1%

Unsure: 8.1%
Finally, here's a rose.

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