Friday, January 26, 2007

Off The AP Wire

Published: January 26, 2007 11:45 AM ET

BAGHDAD Contrary to U.S. military statements, four U.S. soldiers did not die repelling a sneak attack at the governor's office in the Shiite holy city of Karbala last week. New information obtained by The Associated Press shows they were abducted and found dead or dying as far as 25 miles away.

The brazen assault 50 miles south of Baghdad was launched Jan. 20 by a group of nine to 12 militants. They traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles - the type used by U.S. government convoys, had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues and spoke English.

In a written statement, the U.S. command reported at the time that five soldiers were killed while "repelling the attack." Two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials now say three of them were found dead and one mortally wounded in locations as far as 25 miles east of the governor's office.

The U.S. officials said they could not be sure if the soldiers were killed as the attackers drove them to the place where they abandoned the Suburbans or afterward. Iraqi officials said the men were killed just before the vehicles were abandoned.

The daring commando team also took an unclassified U.S. computer with them as they fled with the four soldiers and left behind an American M-4 automatic rifle, senior U.S. military officials said.

The new information has emerged after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad repeatedly declined comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials which suggested a major breakdown in security at Karbala site.

The two senior American military officials now confirm the reports, gathered by The Associated Press from five senior Iraqi government, military and religious leaders. The U.S. military also has provided additional details from internal military accounts.

None of the American or Iraqi officials would allow use of their names because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The U.S. officials, who had seen incident reports of the assault, said the documents indicated two of the soldiers were found in one of the Suburbans at one location and two others in a second Suburban elsewhere. The exact locations were not specified, they said.

The five Americans killed that day ranged in age from 20 to 31.


E&P NOTE: The New York Times last Sunday reported the Karbala incident with a key U.S. denial: "Some police commanders in Babil Province and Mr. Khazaali said one of the recovered vehicles in Elbu Alwan held three American bodies and a fourth soldier who was critically wounded. Mr. Khazaali also said that at least one additional American had been kidnapped. But American military officials said they were not missing anyone, and other police commanders in Babil said the men found in the vehicle were gunmen."

An AP story on the incident from last weekend included the following.


The U.S. military statement about the Karbala attack said "an illegally armed militia group" attacked the provincial headquarters building with grenades, small arms and "indirect fire," which usually means mortars or rockets.

"A meeting was taking place at the time of the attack to ensure the security of Shiite pilgrims participating in the Ashoura commemorations," said a statement from Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, deputy commander of theMulti-National Division-Baghdad.

Thousands of Shiite pilgrims are flocking to the city to mark the 10-day Ashoura festival commemorating the death of one of Shiite Islam's most sacred saints, Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Provincial Gov. Akeel al-Khazaali, who was not at the security meeting, said the gunmen, dressed in military uniforms, were able to drive their black SUVs -- similar to those driven by foreign dignitaries -- through a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city, 50 miles south of Baghdad, because police assumed it was a diplomatic convoy and informed headquarters that it was coming.

"The group used percussion bombs and broke into the building, killed five Americans and kidnapped two others, then fled," the governor said, adding that Iraqi troops later found one of the SUVs with three bodies of uniformed men.

The U.S. military, which has said that five U.S. soldiers were killed and three were wounded while repelling the attack, denied that two U.S. troops were kidnapped.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman, said all American forces "were accounted for after the action."

So, yet again we have found ourselves attacked by people who have obviously been trained by Americans, equipped by Americans, armed by Americans, who have had enough contact with the Americans that they speak English as they attack.

I keep coming back to a fragment of poetry from Aeschylus:

So, in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with an arrow,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
"With our own feathers, not the hands of others
Are we now slain."



Blogger Rez Dog said...

As always, when more than one version of an event in war occurs, it is wise to be skeptical about the immediate official explanation. I guess the errors could arise from incomplete information but as likely as not the official word is a lie. Remember Jessica Lynch?

7:44 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

and from the very beginning, as with jessica lynch, they are willing to simply make things up out of thin air if they think it will serve their purpose. or pat tillman. shameful stuff. when they renamed squaw peak as piestewa peak i got to meet jessica. i commended her service and told her that when she told the special ops guys "i'm a soldier too." that i was very proud of her. she noticed that i was wearing the lapel pin from my silver star. she said "i got one of those too, i didn't deserve it." i whispered to her "neither did i." one of the most disgusting things about this whole thing is that the administration has always been far more concerned with the way things look than the way things are.

9:02 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Note that the U.S. won't provide the Iraqi Army with M4's (the latest version of the M16 cut down for urban warfare). Part of it is because the Iraqis themselves insisted upon AK-47's, since that's what they know how to shoot and maintain (maintain? Hell, you can bury an AK-47 in mud for a week and it'll still work fine). But part of it is because they fear crap like this -- i.e., American trained and armed Iraqi soldiers apparently free-lancing.

I am still baffled at why the Pentagon lied. That seems to indicate to me that something more is going on than just a very cleverly executed "false flag" raid. I wonder if this is another Tillman "friendly fire" incident? I.e., maybe the original story WAS correct -- and the guys who died at the SUV's really WERE both attackers and American soldiers? Note that U.S. Special Forces are the primary user of M4's in Iraq. Regular infantrymen are still mostly armed with M-16's. Did some Snake Eaters manage to hit the wrong place, sorta like those drug busts that manage to hit the 90 year old woman's house and fill her full of bullets immediately before saying "oops, wrong address!"?

Another thing I can't figure out is why officers are continuing to try to shovel shit under the carpet? Officers are in short supply right now. About the only way you're not getting promoted is if you are so fucking incompetent that your own men frag you. In peacetime officers try to cover shit up because of that whole "command responsibility" thing -- they don't want a black mark on their own record for shit that their men did. But hell, right now the military is so hard-pressed for soldiers that your record could look like a freakin' ink blotter and nobody would give a shit.

And as far as politics goes, does anybody really believe that anybody cares anymore? Iraq is fucked. Everybody except the 27% of "dead enders" who still support the war knows that. One more news report isn't going to change people's minds. But I guess they just reflexively lie the same way a cat reflexively chases and catches a mouse. It's just built in to them, part of their genes. Hmm, and they toy with their lies the way that a cat toys with a mouse too...

- BT

12:11 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the retention thing has been an issue for a while. in Band of Brothers Stephen Ambrose spent a couple of pages on the concept that what a unit in the field of battle really needs for survival and success are solid non-coms and junior officers. both of which are among the first to go down the tubes if they are doing their jobs correctly. i read a piece in Military History a couple of months ago where the writer was saying that the way things are right now somebody coming in can pretty much count on making Major just by staying in and not being in prison. competence and performance don't factor in this equation anymore. we have holes that need filling by warm bodies.

the special ops scenario makes about as much sense as anything else put out there. a huge gulf existed in viet nam between the snake eaters and the regulars. i just hate having to figure stuff out as the information trickles in slowly, then you must sift out the four or five versions of blatant lies . . . of course, that's been a problem with this whole thing from the beginning. bush himself said that he had suppressed some information during the run up because it would have hurt his "case" for going to war in the first place. the loss of credibility for our entire government across the board is something that will take almost as long as the economy to repair.

minstrel (the "go ahead and eat it, tastes like chicken" harper)

8:03 AM  

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