20 Bodies Found
Crowds demonstrate for, against Trial of Saddam
Twenty bodies were discovered in Iraq on Monday at two different sites on the road from Baghdad to Amman. Some nine bodies turned up near Fallujah. Eleven bodies were found early Tuesday, at the small town of Rutba. Travelers on that road have often been robbed or murdered, and some of the murders had an ethnic basis (Sunni Arab guerrillas killing, e.g., Shiite travelers).
An electoral official was killed at Baquba, and there was a separate bombing there. Reuters gives other attacks, including one that left a GI dead on Sunday.
AFP/ Al-Sharq al-Awsat [Arabic URL] report that there were dueling demonstration on Monday over the trial of Saddam Hussein. Sunnis in Tikrit (Saddam’s birthplace), came out against the proceedings, as did those in the small town of Dur. In several other provinces, and in Baghdad, crowds demonstrated against Saddam. I saw part of the proceedings on Aljazeera. At one point this really hard line Shiite interrupted the proceedings to read out a lot of ritual pronouncements. He pronounced blessings three times on the Prophet and his Family. There was a strong sectarian overtone to the trial.
Vice President Ghazi al-Yawir has weighed in on the issue of the preparedness of the new Iraqi army. AP reports:
“The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big “setback” in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.
Al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops.”
Al-Yawir is running for parliament on the secular list of Iyad Allawi.
The FBI is reopening the question of where the forged documents came from, which alleged Iraqi uranium purchases from Niger. They first surfaced in the hands of Italian former spy and gadfly Rocco Martino, but the question is where exactly he got them from. There is also the question of the other letter said to be in the same dossier, which alleged that Iran and Iraq were making a deadly alliance of some sort (Khomeinist Iran and Saddam’s Iraq hated each other and this allegation is ridiculous. But the number of state actors that had a strong interest in seeing both Iran and Iraq as allied or an “axis” is relatively small . . .)
The 9/11 Commission is giving the Federal government failing grades in getting up to speed on potential terrorist threats to the United States.
Actually, I don’t think that the Federal government is capable, by its nature, of responding rationally and systematically to such asymmetrical threats. Congress controls the money, and much of Congress’s money goes for patronage. So I saw this report about how some small towns in places like Wyoming got extra money for enhanced security from the Feds. This grant was clearly a form of political patronage. The temptation to use the 9/11 attacks as a potential windfall is everywhere. Bush and Cheney cynically used them to get up a war against Iraq that they already had wanted badly. Congressional representatives will be tempted to grab some of the pork for their districts. US politics is about partisan agendas, benefitting your friends, and punishing your enemies. All these extraneous considerations make it very difficult for a government agency (answerable to the executive and to the legislature) to just strike out and do the right thing in a political vacuum.
By the way, there must be a better way to guard against shoe bombs than making millions of Americans pad in sock feet through the nation’s airports. Isn’t that a health hazard in itself? 🙂 I curse Richard Reid every time I have to sit down and tie my shoes again. The boy genius had thought he’d be allowed to light matches on an airliner! There is nothing worse than being inconvenienced weekly by something done years ago by a stupid murderous f–kup.