Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Monday, September 18, 2006


The Pentagon's top special operations policy-maker is quitting in a move that several Bush administration sources say is the first negative fallout from a major reorganization of advisers in the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

***It's not Rumsfeld's advisors that "the people" want to see gone! It's Rumsfeld himself and V.P. Cheney who is running the war in Iraq.

The Washington Times
By: Rowan Scarsborough
September 18, 2006

Thomas W. O'Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict (SOLIC), has told Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy, that he will leave in several months. Administration officials said the generous lead time is partly political. The Pentagon does not want to be without its top special operations adviser during the November elections at a time when covert warriors are playing a leading role in hunting and capturing al Qaeda terrorists.

Mr. O'Connell's resignation comes as Mr. Edelman is instituting a reordering of his policy shop, which advises Mr. Rumsfeld on the war on terrorism, Iraq and Afghanastan, and on military relations with allies and adversaries alike.

A second of four assistant secretaries in the policy shop, former Rep. Paul McHale, who oversees homeland defense, also has informed his bosses that he will leave, although no date has been set. Officials say his departure is not related to the reorganization.

Responding to the Washington Times, Mr. O'Connell said in an e-mail that any speculation about a change "can do harm to the incumbent and prospective replacements and cause unnecessary anxiety on the part of the work force."

He added, "Any decisions taken by me were well in advance of any announcement of a [reorganization]. So there is no connection with 'unhappiness' to anything to do with SOLIC."

***So then why even mention it?

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "Before the policy transformation was announced, Mr. O'Connell provided notice of his intent to depart by the end of the year."

Two sources said Mr. O'Connell's decision was influenced by the plan, which took away some responsibilities and added others to SOLIC, an office created by Congress in the late 1980s to bolster the status of special operations inside the Pentagon.

"A lot of it is based on the reorganization," said a senior administration official, who asked not to be named.

In the reorganization, SOLIC lost its advisory role on counternarcotics, such as ongoing missions in Afghanastan and Columbia. It kept overall responsibility for special operations and gained two new missions---strategic capabilities and force transformation. The latter had been handled in a special office under Rumsfeld.

Critics say these new duties are largely unrelated to special operations and will dilute SOLICs powers.

One of Mr. Rumsfeld's pet projects since the September 11, 2001, attacks by al Qaeda was to greatly expand the operational role of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SoCom) to turn it into a terrorist hunter. In the past, it was a supporting organization that trained and equipped Navy Seals and Army Green Berets, Rangers and the super-secret Delta Force.

Mr. Rumsfeld turned SoCom into a combatant command that can plan and execute its own operations and handed it the top job of hunting Osama bin Laden. U.S. Joint Special Operations command, at Fort Bragg, which includes Delta Force, played a major role in tracking down al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, who was killed by an Air Force strike in June in Iraq.

Administration officials say SOLIC, however, did not especially grow in influence to match the rise of SoCom. Mr. Rumsfeld, it is often said inside the Pentagon, is his own top adviser on special-operations matters and often talks directly to its commander, Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown.

Mr. Edelman announced the reorganization last month. It adds a new assistant secretary for global security affairs and rearrnges the portfolios for the assistant secretaries who make policy for Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Mr. O'Connell is a former Army infantry officer who directed intelligence operations for Joint Special Operations Command and worked at the CIA. He assumed his current post in july 2003.

"I continue to enjoy the very high honor that allows me to associte with America's finest warriors, and if and when I depart, I really would like any departure message to be a tribute to those magnificent souls that have done so much for the nation," he said in his e-mail.


American soldiers in Helmand Province have described to journalists for 'The Independent' that "We are flattening places we have already flattened, but the attacks have kept coming. We have killed them by the dozens, but more keep coming, either locally or from across the border...We have used B1 bombers, Harriers, F16s and Mirage 2000s. We have dropped 500lb, 1,000lb and even 2,000lb bombs. At one point our Apaches [helicopter gunships] ran out of missiles, they have fired so many."

The soldiers went on to say that they are constantly ambushed, and in need of helicopters, but cannot get any. They have praise for the Afgham army, but say that the Afghan police force does not wish to fight the Taliban either because they are afraid to or because they are Taliban sympathizers.

New British troops have arrived to help, but France, Germany, Italy and Turkey say they have no troops to spare because of the peacekeeping effort in Lebanon. In the meantime, Pakistani troops have withdrawn from the border, after getting "a promise" from the Taliban not to cross over into Afghanastan and continue to mount attacks.

According to Lt. Gen. Richards: "You also have to think that each time we kill one, how many more enemies we are creating. And, of course, the lack of security means hardly any reconstruction is taking place now, so we are not exactly winning hearts and minds."

Mother Jones
By" Diane E. Dees
September 14, 2006


The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Assocaiated Press photographer for 5 months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
By: Robert Tanner (AP)
September 17, 2006

Military officials said Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen, was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under United Nations resolutions. AP executives said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find anything to indicate anappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system.

***I can almost guarantee you that he is being held because he seen something that the Bush administration doesn't want anybody to know about! OR, they think he knows or saw something they don't want revealed!

Hussein, 35, is a native of Fallujah who began work for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained on April 12 of this year.

"We want the rule of law to prevail. He either needs to be charged or released. Indefinite detention is not acceptable," said Tom Curley, APs president and chief executive officer. "We've come to the conclusion that this is unacceptable under Iraqi law, or Geneva Conventions, or any military procedure."

Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military worldwide---13,000 of them in Iraq. They are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom.

In Hussein's case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, Curley and other AP executives said.

The military said Hussein was captured with 2 insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. "He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, IED attacks and other attacks on coalition forces "according to a May 7 e-mail from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, who oversees all coalition detainees in Iraq.

"The information available establishes that he has relationships with insurgents and is afforded access to insurgent activities outside the normal scope afforded to journalists conducting legitimate activities," Gardner wrote to AP International Editor John Daniszewski.

Hussein proclaims his innocence, according to his Iraqi lawyer, Badie Arief Izzat, and he believes he has been unfairly targeted because his photos from Ramadi and Fallujah were deemed unwelcome by the coalition forces.

That Hussein was captured at the same time as insurgents doesn't make him one of them, said Kathleen Carroll, APs executive editor.

"Journalists have always had relationships with people that others might find unsavory," she said. "We're not in this to choose sides, we're to report what's going on from all sides."

AP executives in New York and Baghdad have sought to persuade U.S. officials to provide additional information about allegations against Hussein and to have his case transferred to the Iraqi criminal justice system. The AP contacted military leaders in Iraq and the Pentagon, and later the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The AP has worked quietly until now, believing tht would be the best approach. But with the U.S. military giving no indication it would change its stance, the news cooperative has decided to make public Hussein's imprisonment, hoping the spotlight will bring attention to his case and that of thousands of others now held in Iraq, Curley said.

One of Hussein's photos was part of a package of 20 photographs that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography last year. His contribution was an image of 4 insurgents in Fallujah firing a mortar and small arms during the U.S.-led offensive in the city in November 2004.

In what several AP editors described as a typical path for locally hired staff in the midst of a conflict, Hussein, a shopkeeper who sold cell phones and computers in Fallujah, was hired in the city as a general helper because of his local knowledge.

As the situation in Fallujah eroded in 2004, he expressed a desire to become a photographer. Hussein was given training and camera equipment and hired in September of that year as a freelancer, paid on a per-picture basis, according to Santiago Lyon, APs director of photographer. A month later, he wad put on a monthly retainer.

During the U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah in Novermber 2004, he stayed on after his family fled. "He had good access. He was able to photograph not only the results of the attacks on Fallujah, he was also able to photograph members of the insurgency on occasion," Lynn said. "That was very difficult to achieve at that time."

After fleeing later in the offensive, leaving his camera behind in the rush to escape, Hussein arrived in Bahdad, where the AP gave him a new camera. He then went to work in Ramadi which, like Fallujah, has been a center of insurgent violence.

In its own effort to determine if Hussein had gotten too close to the insurgency, the AP has reviewed his work record, interviewed senior photo editors who worked on his images and examined all 420 photographs in the news cooperative's archives that were taken by Hussein, Lyon said.

The military in Iraq has frequently detained journalists who arrive quickly at scenes of violence, accusing them of getting advance notice from insurgents, Lyon said. But "that's just good journalism. Getting to the event quicker is something that characterizes good journalism anywhere in the world. It does not indicate prior knowledge," he said.

Out of Hussein's body of work, only 37 photos show insurgents or people who could be insurgents, Lyon said. "The vast majority of the 420 images show the aftermath or the results of the conflict---blown up houses, wounded people, dead people, street scenes," he said.

Only 4 photos show the wreckage of still-burning U.S. military vehicles.

"Do we know absolutely everything about him, and what he did before he joined us? No. Are we satisfied that what he did since he joined us was appropriate for the level of work we expected from him? Yes. When we reviewed the work he sent to us, we found it appropriate to what we asked him to do."

The AP does not knowingly hire combatants or anyone who is part of a story, company executives said. But hiring competent local staff in combat areas is vital to the news service, because often only local people can pick their way around the streets with a reasonable degree of safety.

"We want people who are not part of a story. Sometimes it is a judgement call. If someone seems to be thuggish, or like a fighter, you certainly won't hire them," Daniszewski said. After they are hired, their work is checked carefully for bias.

Lyon said every image from local photographers is always "thoroughly checked and vetted" by experienced editors. "In every case where there have been images of insurgents, questions have been asked about circumstances under which the image was taken, and what the image shows," he said.

Executives said it is not uncommon for AP news people to be picked up by coalition forces and detained for hours, days or occasionally weeks, but never this long. Several hundred journalists in Iraq have been detained, some briefly and some for several weeks, according to Scott Horton, a New York-based lawyer hired by the AP to work on Hussein's case.

Horton also worked on behalf of an Iraqi cameraman employed by CBS, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, who was detained for one year before his case was sent to an Iraqi court on charges of insurgent activity. He was acquitted for lack of evidence.

AP officials emphasized the military has not provided the company concrete evidence of its claim against Bilal Hussein, or provided him a chance to offer a defense.

"He's a Sunni Arab from a tribe in that area. I'm sure he does know some nasty people. But is he a participant in the insurgency? I don't think that's been proven," Daniszewski said.

Information provided to the AP by the military to support the continued detention hasn't withstood scrutiny, when it could be checked, Daniszewski said.

For example, he said, the AP had been told that Hussein was involved with the kidnapping of two Arab journalists in Ramadi.

But those journalists, tracked down by the AP, said Hussein had helped them after they were released by their captors without money or a vehicle in a dangerous part of Ramadi. After a journalist aquaintance put them in touch with Hussein, the photographer picked them up, gave them shelter and helped get them out of town, they said.

The journalists said they had never been contacted by multinational forces for their account.

Horton said the military has provided contradictory accounts of whether Hussein himself was a U.S. target last April or if he was caught up in a broader sweep.

The military said bomb-making materials were found in the apartment where Hussein was captured but it never detailed what those materials were. The military said he tested positive for traces of explosives. Horton said that was virtually guaranteed for anyone on the streets of Ramadi at that time.

Hussein has been a frequent target of conservative critics on the Internet, who raised questions about his images months before the military detained him. One blogger and author, Michelle Malkin, wrote about Hussein's detention on the day of his arrest, saying she'd been tipped by a military source.

Carroll said the role of journalists can be misconstrued and make them a target of critics. But that criticism is misplaced, she said.

"How can you know what a conflict is like if you're only with one side of the combatants?" she asked. "Journalism doesn't work if we don't report and photograph all sides."