The Washington Post is reporting that top U.S. military leaders in Iraq are admitting publicly for the first time that the U.S. may be losing the war in Iraq.
The commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, Army Major General Charles Swannack, told the Post the US. is winning on a tactical level but losing strategically.
Army Colonel Paul Hughes, who is involved in formulating Iraq policy, compared Iraq to Vietnam. He told the Post “I lost my brother in Vietnam. I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don’t understand the war we’re in.”
Another senior general at the Pentagon said, “It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this. The American people may not stand for it — and they should not.”
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel also raised questions Sunday on Face the Nation about whether the US was losing.
He said, “I think we are right on the edge in Iraq right now… I think it’s still in question whether Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and, quite frankly, General Myers, can command the respect and the trust and the confidence of the military of the American people to lead this country.”
The civilian military publication Army Times is planning to run an editorial today saying that Rumsfeld and Myers should possibly resign for their role in the growing Iraqi prison abuse scandal. The paper said Rumsfeld and Myers are responsible for “a failure that amounts to professional negligence” and that “accountability is essential, even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war,”
On Friday, Rumsfeld testified for six hours before the Senate and House. He apologized for the abuse, defended how the Pentagon handled the situation and rejected calls for his resignation.
The Bush White House continues to back Rumsfeld. Vice President Dick Cheney called him the best defense secretary the country has ever seen. But the scandal continues to grow as more photos emerge and leaders in Washington warn the worst may still be forthcoming.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina said on Friday, “The American public needs to understand we’re talking about rape and murder here. We’re not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience.”
President Bush has reportedly asked the Pentagon to personally review all photos and video in their possession.
The Pentagon announced Sunday, 24-year-old Army Specialist Jeremy Sivits would face a public court martial next month becoming the first US soldier to stand trial for his role in the prison abuse scandal. He is among seven former soldiers at Abu Ghraib facing criminal charges. Sivits reportedly took some of the photos that showed the US abusing Iraqi prisoners. The Army is planning to hold the court martial in public at a convention center in Baghdad.
Iraq’s former human rights minister Abdel Basset Turki has told Agence France Press that the head of the US occupation, Paul Bremer, ignored his warnings about abuses taking place in Iraqi prisons. Bremer also barred the human rights minister from visiting the prisons. The Minister resigned last month to protest U.S. policies including the siege on Fallujah that killed up to 600 Iraqis.
Britain’s counterpart to Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, is scheduled to appear before the House of Parliament today to respond to questions about an emerging prison abuse scandal involving British troops. He will likely be asked to respond to reports that the Red Cross and Amnesty International had warned Britainn about prison abuses in Iraq as early as last May.
In Britain on Tuesday, attorneys representing 20 Iraqi families will appear in court charging British soldiers from at least four regiments killed detainees and shot unarmed civilians. The government has admitted 18 Iraqis have died in the custody of British troops but, according to the London Independent, no British soldier has been charged, disciplined or dismissed.
Meanwhile Time Magazine has obtained an internal Pentagon memo that warned employees last week not to read or download the prison abuse scandal report that had been leaked to the media because it was a classified document. The Pentagon also ordered employees not to discuss the report with coworkers or family members. Part of the email read in all capital letters: “The information contained in this report is classified: do not go to Fox News to read or obtain a copy.”
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the US occupation of Iraq will end up costing $150 billion by the end of next year and may end up costing $300 billion over the next decade, making it one of the costliest military campaigns in modern history. According to the paper, the Bush administration has now spent about three dollars in Iraq for every dollar committed to homeland security.
In Iraq, 500 Iraqi scholars met in Baghdad this weekend to develop a plan to end the U.S. occupation. The organizers called themselves the United Iraqi Scholars Group and included Shia, Sunni and Kurdish scholars who opposed the US presence in Iraq. According to the BBC, the conference set up a 16-member panel and pledged to boycott any US-sponsored political group, including the Iraqi Governing Council. The group also pledged to re-establish the national army and to restore sovereignty under the auspices of the United Nations.
Kadyrov was widely seen to be a puppet leader of Russian Preisdent Vladimir Putin who helped secure his election last fall by orchestrating the removal of his chief opponents. After Kadryrov’s controversial election, Putin declared the war in Chechnya to be over. But now the Christian Science Monitor is reporting Putin’s plan for stabilizing occupied Chechnya is in tatters.
One Chechen expert in Moscow said, “This blow is comparable to the Americans losing their top administrator in Iraq.”
Putin announced that the Kremlin-appointed prime minister of Chechnya would serve as acting president until elections are held.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez said his government has detained a group of 56 Colombian paramilitaries who he said were plotting to kill him or overthrow his government.
The Colombians were arrested at a farm on the outskirts of Caracas. Chavez said the farm was owned by a Cuban exile with close ties to opponents who had previously tried to stage a coup.
In Afghanistan, a U.S. marine was shot dead Saturday marking the first time a Marine has been killed by enemy fire in the country since the US invaded in October 2001. A total of 121 U.S. troops have now died in Afghanistan.
A new report from Public Citizen has found President Bush and Republican National Committee have received $6.6 million in campaign donations in the past five years from the owners of the dirtiest power plants in the country. In return the companies were given relief from pollution regulations that would have cost them billions of dollars.