In the largest deployment of U.S. ground forces in months, 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers are advancing toward the Iraqi city of Fallujah on this, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The interim Iraqi government is threatening to launch a major invasion of the city with U.S. support if the Iraqi resistance doesn’t turn over the suspected Al Qaeda leader Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.
Yesterday the US launched what Agence France Press described as a relentless campaign of air and artillery strikes in Fallujah. Iraqi hospital sources said 8 people were killed and 23 were wounded.
Meanwhile a high-ranking Marine official claimed yesterday, for the first time, that U.S. troops stationed along the Iraq-Syrian border are increasingly coming under mortar attack from shells fired from inside Syria. This comes a month after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused the Syrians of “facilitating terrorists moving back and forth” to Iraq.
A new Army investigation has implicated 28 U.S. active duty and reserve soldiers in the murder of two Afghan men who died while being detained at the Bagam air base in Afghanistan. The active duty soldiers served in Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Batallion — the same unit that set up the interrogation system at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
According to the New York Times, the Afghan men died after suffering “blunt force trauma to the legs.” Investigators determined they had been beaten by “multiple soldiers” and that both men had been chained to the ceiling–one at the waist and one by the wrists.
Meanwhile the Army’s intelligence chief is publicly supporting allowing Major General Barbara Fast to head the Army’s intelligence school even though the two star general was the highest-ranking intelligence officer tied to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. At the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Gen. Fast would be in charge of overseeing how the military teaches interrogation methods and the rules of proper prisoner treatment.
In addition the Los Angeles Times is reporting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to promote General Ricardo Sanchez to be a four-star general even though Sanchez was the top commander in Iraq who was in charge while troops tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. Sources tell the Times that Rumsfeld will wait until after the November 2 election to put forward the promotion for political reasons.
A new study by Congress’s Government Accountability Office has determined the Justice Department is not prepared to handle a large influx of complaints about voting rights violations in the Nov. 2 presidential election. According to the Washington Post, the GAO found the Justice Department lacks a clear plan to reliably document and track allegations in a manner to identify patterns of abuse and take corrective steps.
And the Bush administration has refused to join 85 heads of state and governments in signing a statement that endorsed a decade-old United Nations plan to ensure every woman’s right to education, healthcare and choice about having children. This according to a report by the Associated Press. The Bush administration said it withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to “sexual rights.”