|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Sunday, September 26, 2004
Bush v the facts: From Reuters: "Many of President George W. Bush's assertions about progress in Iraq -- from police training and reconstruction to preparations for January elections -- are in dispute, according to internal Pentagon documents, lawmakers and key congressional aides on Sunday. ..
Bush [said] Iraq's electoral commission is up and running and told Americans on Saturday that "United Nations electoral advisers are on the ground in Iraq." He said nearly 100,000 "fully trained and equipped" Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel are already at work, and that would rise to 125,000 by the end of this year. And he promised more than $9 billion will be spent on reconstruction contracts in Iraq over the next several months. ..
The documents show that of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and it will be July 2006 before the administration reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force. .. Six Army battalions have had "initial training," while 57 National Guard battalions, 896 soldiers in each, are still being recruited or "awaiting equipment." .. Training has yet to begin for the 4,800-man civil intervention force.. And none of the 18,000 border enforcement guards have received any centralised training
They estimated that 22,700 Iraqi personnel have received enough basic training to make them "minimally effective at their tasks," in contrast to the 100,000 figure cited by Bush.
The status of election planning in Iraq is also in question. Of the $232 million in Iraqi funds set aside for the Iraqi electoral commission, it has received a mere $7 million, according to House Appropriations Committee staff. .. According to a one-page election planning "time line," registration materials are supposed to be distributed in early October and initial voter lists to go out by the end of October .. So far, the United Nations has .. no more than eight [staff]working on the elections. "The framework for it (free and fair elections) hasn't even been set up. The voter registration lists aren't set. There have to be hundreds of polling places, hundreds of trained monitors and poll watchers. None of that has happened," Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State for President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, told ABC's "This Week."
With the violence expected to intensify in the run-up to the elections, congressional experts were also sceptical $9 billion could be spent on reconstruction projects within several months, as Bush asserted." 11:52:04 PM
Iraq: Bush administration arguing with itself:" Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that the insurgency in Iraq is getting worse and that the U.S. occupation there has increased anti-American sentiment in Muslim countries, but he said successful elections in Afghanistan and Iraq would turn the situation around. "We have seen an increase in anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. We'll not deny this," Powell said on ABC's "This Week." "But I think that that will be overcome in due process because what the Muslim world will see . . . is that in Afghanistan, 10 million people who have registered to vote will vote on the ninth of October and bring in place a freely elected president. "And I think we're going to do the same thing in Iraq if we stay the course, if we defeat this insurgency," Powell said. He acknowledged that "yes, it's getting worse, and the reason it's getting worse is that they are determined to disrupt the elections."
But he rejected the notion, put forward recently by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, that it would be sufficient to hold elections in most, but not all, of Iraq. "For the elections to have complete credibility and stand the test of international scrutiny, I think what we have to do is to give all the people of Iraq an opportunity to participate," Powell told "Fox News Sunday." "Just as we would have difficulty with partial elections here in the United States . . . I think it has to be throughout the country."
In contrast, Gen. John P. Abizaid, U.S. commander for the Middle East, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the goal is that "the election will be able to be held in the vast majority of the country." .. "I am not predicting victory by January at the end of the elections," Abizaid cautioned. "I am predicting that we'll have elections." ..
Abizaid said he found the CIA's recent assessment of Iraq's future over 18 months to be "overly pessimistic." .. Powell, on Fox News, said the CIA report "wasn't a terribly shocking assessment. It was something that I could have written myself." The assessment contrasted with President Bush's and Allawi's more optimistic portrayal of Iraq's short-term future. " 11:43:43 PM
Violence in Iraq Belies Claims of Calm, Data Show: "Attacks against U.S. troops, Iraqi security forces and private contractors number in the dozens each day and have spread to parts of the country that had been relatively peaceful, according to statistics compiled by a private security firm working for the U.S. government. .. A sampling of daily reports produced during [the past 2 weeks] by Kroll Security International for the U.S. Agency for International Development shows that such attacks typically number about 70 each day. In contrast, 40 to 50 hostile incidents occurred daily during the weeks preceding the handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government on June 28, according to military officials. ..
On maps included in the reports, red circles denoting attacks surround nearly every major city in central, western and northern Iraq, except for Kurdish-controlled areas in the far north. Cities in the Shiite Muslim-dominated south, including several that had undergone a period of relative calm in recent months, also have been hit with near-daily attacks. .. In number and scope, the attacks compiled in the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence that contrasts sharply with assessments by Bush administration officials and Iraq's interim prime minister that the instability is contained to small pockets of the country. " 11:24:56 PM
Iraqi civilian casualties mounting: How we lose the hearts and minds. This is attributed in part to US troops using more air power to limit US casualties. "Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder. According to the ministry, the interim Iraqi government recorded 3,487 Iraqi deaths in 15 of the country's 18 provinces from April 5 - when the ministry began compiling the data - until Sept. 19. Of those, 328 were women and children. Another 13,720 Iraqis were injured, the ministry said. .. During the same period, 432 American soldiers were killed. ..
"Anyone who hates America has come here to fight: Saddam's supporters, people who don't have jobs, other Arab fighters. All these people are on our streets," said [Dr.] Hamed, the [Health] ministry official. "But everyone is afraid of the Americans, not the fighters. And they should be." ..
Iraqi officials said about two-thirds of the Iraqi deaths were caused by multinational forces and police; the remaining third died from insurgent attacks. The ministry began separating attacks by multinational and police forces and insurgents June 10.
From that date until Sept. 10, 1,295 Iraqis were killed in clashes with multinational forces and police versus 516 killed in terrorist operations, the ministry said. The ministry defined terrorist operations as explosive devices in residential areas, car bombs or assassinations. The ministry is convinced that nearly all of those reported dead are civilians, not insurgents. Most often, a family member wouldn't report it if his or her relative died fighting for rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia or another insurgent force, and the relative would be buried immediately, said Dr. Shihab Ahmed Jassim, another member of the ministry's operations section. "People who participate in the conflict don't come to the hospital. Their families are afraid they will be punished," said Dr. Yasin Mustaf, the assistant manager of al Kimdi Hospital near Baghdad's poor Sadr City neighborhood. "Usually, the innocent people come to the hospital. That is what the numbers show." 4:39:36 PM