Move Along

Via Juan Cole, we read in today’s Guardian:

American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

The troops told Dr Fadhil that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. These have not yet been returned.

What can one say, but … Jebus.

Update: I believe Ali Fadhil is the same Ali Fadhil who bolted from Iraq the Model awhile back to start an independent blog, Free Iraqi. [Update: This is a guess, because the blogger and the writer are both physicians, but I don’t know for certain.] Dr. Fadhil also reported from Fallujah after the November 2004 assault; see “City of Ghosts” in The Guardian, January 11, 2005.

Not Serious

According to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 26 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the beginning of January. I’m not sure if this includes all of the 17 U.S. troops who died this weeked. Or was it 20 troops? Today, a suicide bombing killed at least 14 people in Iraq’s interior ministry. No, make that 21 people. [Update: Now the links are saying 28 people.]

Those last throes are a bitch, huh?

Recently we learned that 80 percent of the marines in Iraq who died of upper body wounds could have survived if they’d had extra body armor. The Pentagon could have obtained this armor; it just didn’t. No excuses.

Yesterday NBC News ran an interview of Paul Bremer by Brian Williams. From this, we learn that the Bush Administration hadn’t anticipated an insurgency, and that Bremer’s requests for more troops were ignored. And we learned that in November 2003 Bremer wrote to Cheney that there seemed to be no military strategy.

Williams: You wrote that you told Vice President Cheney there was no military strategy for Iraq, that the policy was driven more by troop rotation. What was the reaction?

Bremer: I said to the vice president, “You know i’m not sure that we really have a strategy for winning this war.” The vice president said to me, “Well, I have similar concerns.” He thought there was something to be said for the argument that we didn’t have a strategy for victory at that time.

This interview needs to be read together with some of James Fallows’s work for The Atlantic, such as “Blind Into Baghdad” and “Bush’s Lost Year.” There was, in fact, copious warning that an insurgency was likely. The Bush Administration simply chose to ignore it.

I keep thinking of some things George Packer said on The Daily Show recently (link to video on this page). Parker spoke of many individuals in Iraq, both Iraqi and American,

Packer: … really pouring their hearts into this project, and meanwhile back in Washington decisions being made on the fly, or not being made at all, being made against all expert advice as if it almost didn’t matter. …

… there was a whole tide of young Republican operatives coming over to staff the occupation, people who had never lived abroad, certainly had no experience in the Middle East, there were maybe three Arabic speakers in the whole coalition provisional authority in the first few few months …

Stewart: You say the more you about Iraq the more you’d be punished, it seems.

Packer: Yes. It’s a law of the occupation that the more you know the less influence you have, and as you go higher and higher in the Administration, knowledge decreases until at the very top …

… they were unbelievably reckless, and I think it’s going to take time for historians to explain how they could have rolled the dice in such a risky way and not taken it more seriously. Over and over again that’s the thing that I come back to. They didn’t take it very seriously.

Rumsfeld, Packer continued, had this “pre-enlightenment idea that you remove tyranny and people are free. No, you remove tyranny and people are crazy.” Once again, someone notices that the Bushies have very muddled notions about what constitutes freedom and democracy.

And once again we see that the Bushies don’t take anything very seriously until it poses a political threat. Just a couple of months ago the White House released the “Strategy for Victory” document, a document clearly thrown together post hoc by describing what has happened in Iraq and framing it as a strategy. The point of this, clearly, was to shore up Bush’s tanking approval numbers. As I wrote last month, even though the Bushies knew, or should have known, that the training of Iraqi security forces is critical to anything resembling success in Iraq, it wasn’t until early 2005 that they got around to putting more money and effort into that training.

Meanwhile, Vichycrat extraordinaire Joe Klein worries that liberal Democrats are “playing fast and loose with issues of war and peace.” Puh-leeze

More good commentary at The Heritik.

See Eric Alterman.