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News, 01-08/05/03 (7) OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS * U.S. to Hold Off on Iraqi Telecom Reconstruction Award * Iraqi firms excluded from reconstruction * U.S. Struggles in Quicksand of Iraq * Halliburton Contract Goes Beyond Fires RUMOURS OF THE WAR * A Timeline of the War in Iraq * Embedded In Iraq: Was It Worth It? * Deal with Iraqi Commander Opened Baghdad to Marines * Legality of war no longer an issue: PM OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2965-2003May1.html * U.S. TO HOLD OFF ON IRAQI TELECOM RECONSTRUCTION AWARD by Christopher Stern and Jackie Spinner Washington Post, 2nd May The government has made a preliminary decision not to award a major contract for rebuilding Iraq's telecommunications networks as part of a $2.5 billion reconstruction and humanitarian aid package approved by Congress. The decision is a blow to U.S. telecommunications companies that would have enjoyed a preference in the bidding process. Instead, U.S. officials say they will leave it to the next Iraqi government to decide how to reconstruct a telecommunications system that has suffered under years of neglect and two U.S.-led wars. Less than 3 percent of Iraq's population has access to a wired telephone line, and there is almost no internal wireless service outside the Kurdish-controlled north. A report by UBS Warburg estimates that it will cost as much as $900 million to create a modern telecommunications network. "There is really no reason for the American people to pay for that kind of infrastructure," said one government official familiar with the current thinking. Telecom executives and lobbyists had expected the U.S. Agency for International Development, a division of the State Department, to award a telecommunications contract, in part, because it has done so in the past for other post-conflict rebuilding projects, including Afghanistan. But USAID made it clear earlier this week that telecommunications was not part of its portfolio. "We are not going to do telecommunications at all," spokesman Alfonso Aguilar said. Telecommunications companies including Lucent Technologies Inc., Motorola Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. have been scrambling for information about a potential Iraqi contract since late March, when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced that USAID was about to award a contract to build a wireless network in Iraq. Issa introduced a bill that would require the contractor to use a wireless technology standard developed by Qualcomm, which is headquartered near Issa's Southern California district. Issa's announcement appears premature. A government official also said yesterday that even if a contract is eventually awarded, it would not impose a specific standard. "We feel passionately . . . that government agencies should not predetermine which technology is used," said a government official. Issa's bill was met with disdain by industry experts who said it made no sense to mandate that an Iraqi wireless network use Qualcomm's Code Division Multiple Access, or CDMA, system. Every other country in the region relies on a rival standard developed in Europe known as the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Motorola is a key supplier of GSM equipment, while Lucent is a leading manufacturer of CDMA equipment. For the past month industry lobbyists and lawyers have been trying to track down information about the contract, including who would award it and what services it would cover. "We are still scratching out heads about who is calling the shots and who will make the decisions and what those decisions will be," said one telecommunications industry executive. Other government sources cautioned that the situation is fluid. Issa had said in March that he could not reveal his source of information that USAID would award the contract. Diane Bryhn, a spokeswoman for Issa, said yesterday that the congressman has moved on to other issues. "It does have a preference, but the bill is not going to go anywhere," she said. Several industry sources say the Defense Department plans to hire contractors to build a small wireless network in Baghdad and some other key cities. The network would be limited to 10,000 or so subscribers, mostly U.S. military, humanitarian workers and key Iraqi officials. The Pentagon declined to comment. http://www.washtimes.com/business/20030430-11854056.htm * IRAQI FIRMS EXCLUDED FROM RECONSTRUCTION by Jeffrey Sparshott Washington Times, 1st May Iraqi companies are not eligible to work on U.S.-funded reconstruction efforts in their own country until U.N. sanctions are lifted, according to U.S. government officials. Firms from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Cuba and North Korea are barred from working as subcontractors on U.S. Agency for International Development reconstruction contracts because they are not designated as countries of the free world, a USAID official said yesterday. The legal issue is tied to lifting sanctions against Iraq at the United Nations, a U.S. Treasury spokesman said. President Bush earlier this month asked U.N. Security Council members to remove the embargo against Iraq, in place since before the first Persian Gulf war, but the international body has not yet chosen a course of action. In the meantime, the $1.7 billion USAID-led effort to rebuild Iraq would have to exclude local Iraqi companies. Since Jan. 31 the State Department agency has sought nine American contractors for reconstruction work in Iraq. Those with awards, there have been six so far, must be U.S. companies or U.S.-based subsidiaries of foreign companies. But subcontractors can execute up to 90 percent of the work, said Christine E. Lyons, the USAID contracting officer handling the Iraqi work. Those subcontractors can come from any country of the free world a designation that does not include Iraq. "We're struggling on how to deal with Iraqi firms," said Ms. Lyons, speaking yesterday at a USAID conference for companies interested in working on Iraqi reconstruction. The U.S. Treasury Department enforces the U.N. sanctions. The department has granted waivers for humanitarian work in the country, which includes reconstruction efforts, but would not cover hiring local firms. U.S. officials are considering how to proceed. Last week State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the administration would "probably present a text or present some ideas on a [U.N.] resolution soon." Soon could mean this week but Mr. Boucher would not commit to a date. "A high priority, as the president has said, is lifting the economic sanctions. The current sanctions regime is inappropriate given the demise of Saddam's regime," Mr. Boucher told reporters. Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday said the U.N. sanctions against Iraq should not be lifted until it has been proven that the country does not possess weapons of mass destruction, Agence France-Presse reported. France also has opposed completely lifting sanctions. USAID contracts have been awarded for seaport administration, capital construction, personnel support, education and local governance, which involves helping local governments provide basic services in Iraq's cities and towns. Still to be awarded are contracts for airport administration, logistical support, public health, and community action, which deals with citizen participation in government. The capital construction award is the biggest so far and could reach $680 million. San Francisco-based Bechtel Group, the winner, plans to hold May conferences in Washington and London to identify potential subcontractors. NO URL * U.S. STRUGGLES IN QUICKSAND OF IRAQ by Alissa J. Rubin Los Angeles Times, 5th May BAGHDAD Nearly a month after Baghdad fell to U.S. forces, the reconstruction effort is struggling to gain visibility and credibility, crime is a continuing problem, Iraqis desperate for jobs and security are becoming angry and the transition to democracy promised by President Bush seems rife with risk. The continuing disorder in a country accustomed to the repressive but absolute stability provided by Saddam Hussein is fueling at least a deep skepticism about U.S. intentions and at worst a dangerous anti-Americanism. As competing religious, tribal and territorial political forces move to fill the void, they threaten to divide the country rather than unite it. Interviews with political analysts, exile figures and ordinary Iraqis throughout the country, coupled with developments on the ground, indicate that the United States' power to control Iraq and shape its future is increasingly threatened by the pervasive uncertainty. On many fronts, U.S. officials appear to have been unprepared for what awaited them in Iraq, from mundane concerns such as how to cope with the lack of telephones to philosophical questions such as how to respond to the desire of many Iraqis for an Islamic state. "The Americans and the British became obsessed with getting rid of Saddam; they thought he was responsible for all the catastrophes in Iraq," said Wamid Nadmi, a political science professor at Baghdad University. "But they have opened a Pandora's box." U.S. officials say they are aware that time is of the essence. "We're moving as fast as we can," said Lewis Lucke, reconstruction chief for retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the interim administrator. "I don't ever think it's fast enough." U.S. officials point out that electricity is on again in much of the country; oil is being pumped in the southern fields; and many police, fire and emergency workers have been given a $20 stipend and are returning to their jobs. There have been numerous local success stories as well, with individual U.S. military commanders helping to reopen schools and protecting public facilities from looters. But often, U.S. officials seem stymied by the competing imperatives to get the country running while not appearing to be a dictatorial occupying force. Efforts to restore security, revive services, begin reconstruction and set up a new government are encountering difficulty. For instance: The looting that began the day after Hussein's regime fell has yet to end. On Sunday, a crowd stormed into one of the palaces recently left unprotected by U.S. soldiers. Without a true police force in place, the wide-scale stealing has spawned a culture of lawlessness. Gun markets flourish on Baghdad's back streets, and armed robberies and carjackings have become common. Garner's Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, responsible for running the country, has yet to make its presence felt. With mass media in the capital limited to two radio stations, the office hasn't figured out how to communicate with the Iraqi people. There is no U.S. government office accessible to ordinary Iraqis. Many key contracts for rebuilding Iraq were not awarded until after the war started, and many contractors are waiting in hotels in Kuwait for the green light from the U.S. military that it is safe to enter the country. As the U.S. tries to help set up a new Iraqi government, the exile groups that many U.S. officials hoped Iraqis would rally around have won little popular support. Meanwhile, the organizations that are showing political strength including some Shiite Muslim groups backed by Iran are potentially hostile to U.S. aims. Although the reconstruction effort is only weeks old, the Bush administration is already stressing that it would like to shift to an Iraqi-led government as soon as possible. At the same time, the lack of a visible American presence has sown doubts about U.S. intentions and frustrated ordinary Iraqis. Few if any people here have even heard of Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of ground forces in Iraq, who has kept such a low profile as to be almost invisible. Last week he issued a proclamation saying he was the lead authority and forbidding looting, reprisals and criminal activity. But it was never widely distributed, and few people even know about it. As for Garner and his staff, they are just beginning to communicate with the public. Their few reconstruction steps including giving out money to returning workers have yet to be applied evenly throughout Iraq. In Nasiriyah on Sunday, teachers demanded to be paid, and the newly constituted city council threatened to quit unless salaries were distributed to all government workers. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell predicted Sunday that progress would accelerate. "As stability is gained throughout the country and security is obtained, and as the various ministries come back up online, more and more other sorts of organizations will come in," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "U.N. organizations, nongovernmental organizations, lots of our friends and allies will be sending in peacekeeping forces So there is a transition taking place." But Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed frustration Sunday over reconstruction in general and reports of infighting between the State Department and the Pentagon over rebuilding plans. "This has had to proceed perhaps sort of on the run, but long ago in our committee we asked for people to give us some idea of how the organization might proceed, and the ideas were fairly sketchy," Lugar said on CNN's "Late Edition." "They are far too sketchy now." More than anywhere, it is on the political front that the U.S. faces problems. The country is a barely intact jigsaw puzzle of competing groups divided by religion, tribal affiliation and ethnicity. Washington's main entry to Iraq was via the exile groups it had sponsored in Britain and the United States. While those groups are organized and speak in the American idiom of democracy and governance, they have little support among the Iraqi public. "They are the worst gamble the Americans could make," said Maher Abdullah, an anchor for the Al Jazeera satellite television channel who has followed Iraq for years. "Everybody's image here is that they are CIA agents. Whether that's true or false, it's what people believe. Secondly, most of these guys have been away for years. They don't know anything about the country, about people's day-to-day priorities." That skepticism was on display at Friday prayers in the heavily Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Baghdad formerly known as Saddam City. As more than 20,000 men prepared their prayer mats for services, Gaylan Tayr, a writer, stood with several friends and rattled off the names of the exile political groups supported by U.S. officials. "These parties are all new, and we don't know anything about them. They may be set up by the Americans, so how can we trust them? How can we vote for them?" he said. As exile groups have sought to create power bases, some have sent signals that they make their own law. They have been traveling with heavily armed bodyguards and in some cases have appropriated homes and buildings for their own use. A recent meeting of five exile leaders at a downtown Baghdad hotel looked like a scene out of "The Godfather, Part II." Snipers leaned out windows, and the pavement outside was lined with bodyguards who bristled with automatic weapons. A small group of U.S. troops, who escorted the heavily armed exiles to the hotel, was also on hand. While U.S. officials have spoken repeatedly about the importance of indigenous Iraqi leaders, those who have broad recognition are primarily religious figures who, to varying degrees, support an Islamic government for Iraq. One of the first arrests made by U.S. forces in Baghdad was that of Sheik Mohammed Fartusi, a rising religious figure who is backed by the powerful Al Hawza movement, a Shiite Muslim group. It was unclear why he was detained. Although the troops let him go within a few hours, the incident appalled many Shiites and raised Fartusi's profile. With the U.S. giving limited attention to any indigenous figures, exiles are increasingly confident that they will dominate the next phase of government in Iraq. "The Americans have realized that the much-talked-about Iraqi leadership who was to emerge from within is largely mythical," said Zaab Sethna, a spokesman for Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, an exile group that has strong backing among some Pentagon officials and has received funding from the State Department. "That's led them back to the Iraqi opposition, and they do see the Iraqi opposition as the nucleus for a new transitional government." The Kurdish political parties, who have ruled northern Iraq as a de facto independent area outside of Hussein's control since the early 1990s, also see little role for indigenous leaders. They have proposed that half the delegates at the National Assembly scheduled for the end of May to choose a transitional government be from exile organizations. While U.S. attention is focused on this kind of political maneuvering, other groups with little if any allegiance to Washington are quietly gaining ground in Baghdad's slums, the Shiite Muslim south of the country and Sunni Muslim tribal areas. Rather than attempting to form political parties, these groups have made the strategic political decision to make themselves indispensable to their people. Within 10 days of Baghdad's fall, for instance, mosques began providing crucial services including water distribution, garbage collection and security guards that Americans have been unable to organize. Religious leaders are asserting control over an increasing number of institutions. Walk into any clinic in the former Saddam City and someone will quickly introduce himself as an emissary from the Al Hawza movement. The Shiite Muslim organization, based in the holy city of Najaf, encompasses an array of well-funded charitable organizations. A number of Iraqis believe the group is funded in part by Iran. The group also has connections to a number of Muslim leaders, some with political ambitions. So far, U.S. officials appear to have had little contact with Shiite groups inside Iraq. An exile Shiite group was added only recently to the inner circle of organizations with which the Americans are working. Without involving Shiites, it is unlikely that the U.S. will be able to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, analysts say. Although Shiites are hardly monolithic in their views, they make up roughly 60% of the country. "One day, the Americans will have to hold elections, and it's clear the Shiites will sweep the polls," said Nadmi, the political scientist. "Americans are selective about the democracy they want. They want democracy that suits their interests and values." The only potential countervailing force, analysts say, are the supporters of Hussein's Baath Party who used to run the country. They know how to organize people, they have a political base and they have concrete administrative knowledge. For the U.S., an alliance with the Baathists would be a double-edged sword. Without them, it would be hard to get the country running, but working with them would thrust the Americans right into the arms of the people they just ousted from power. It also would feed distrust among Iraqis at large about government agencies. For the moment, U.S. officials are trying to have it both ways with the Baathists. To get the country's electrical network, telephone system and ministries running again, U.S. officials are working with middle managers from the party. The Americans say that these bureaucrats are apolitical and that only the top Iraqi ministers were tainted by their links to Hussein. Others, however, say the situation is not so clear-cut. "We've made it very clear to Garner and the U.S. government that it's a bad mistake to bring Baathists back into a position of power. That's the fastest way to spawn anti Americanism," said Sethna, the Iraqi National Congress spokesman. "The U.S. can't tell the bad guys from the good guys, and there are many, many people who are tainted by the former regime and who were corrupt. And I don't think the U.S. is even looking at that." Compounding the problem is the fact that many contractors hired by the U.S. have yet to arrive in Iraq or are just setting up their operations. North Carolina-based Research Triangle Institute was hired April 11 by the U.S. Agency for International Development to help create 180 local and provincial governments in Iraq. Under a contract worth as much as $167 million, one of RTI's immediate tasks is to help identify "appropriate, legitimate" Iraqis to assume key government posts in villages and towns. But the nonprofit group's first representatives arrived in Baghdad only Wednesday. In their absence, people ranging from former Baathists to pro-Iranian spiritual leaders have assumed government positions. In another case, DynCorp, a subsidiary of El Segundo-based Computer Sciences Corp., won a $150-million contract to train a new Iraqi police force. But the contract was awarded just two weeks ago, and the firm has yet to be allowed into the country because the U.S. military considers Iraq too dangerous for DynCorp staff to set up shop. In the meantime, crime is rife and many businesses are afraid to open. The country feels stalled, and Americans are being blamed. Many Iraqis predict it will be difficult for Americans to improve things and break the cycle of dysfunction, let alone win popular support. "The Americans promised us jobs, security and safety and none of those have materialized," said Abid Ali Kubaisi, a silk merchant in the Euphrates River town of Fallouja, who shut down his business for fear it would be pillaged. "People who have no jobs are going to fight, they are going loot, and everyone here has their own weapons," he said. Staff writers Mark Fineman and Michael Slackman in Baghdad, Megan Stack in Nasiriyah and Esther Schrader in Washington contributed to this report. NO URL * HALLIBURTON CONTRACT GOES BEYOND FIRES by Larry Margasak Yahoo, 6th May WASHINGTON (AP): An emergency contract the Bush administration gave to Halliburton Co. to extinguish Iraqi oil fires also gave the firm a more lucrative role in getting the country's oil system up and running, documents showed Tuesday. A congressional critic of the Houston company, formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, said the administration was hiding the expanded role. A spokeswoman for Halliburton said the company's initial announcement of the contract on March 24 disclosed the larger role for its KBR subsidiary. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman last Friday, disclosed that the no-bid contract included not only extinguishing fires but "operation of facilities and distribution of products." Waxman, D-Calif., senior Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, wrote Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers of the Corps on Tuesday, saying the contract "is considerably broader in scope than previously known." The lawmaker also said the Corps' proposal to replace the Halliburton contract with another long-term deal was at odds with administration statements that Iraq's oil belongs to the Iraqi people. KBR was given the right to extinguish the oil fires under an existing, contingency contract. Cheney's office has said repeatedly the vice president had no role in the contract award. Carol Sanders, a spokeswoman for the Corps of Engineers, said officials were reviewing the letter but had no immediate response. Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall pointed to the company's announcement of the contract in March, which she said revealed the extent of the work. The release said: "KBR's initial task involves hazard and operational assessment, extinguishing oil well fires, capping oil well blowouts, as well as responding to any oil spills. Following this task, KBR will perform emergency repair, as directed, to provide for the continuity of operations of the Iraqi oil infrastructure." Hall said KBR is assisting Iraq's oil ministry to get the oil system operating. Waxman countered, "Only now, over five weeks after the contract was first disclosed, are members of Congress and the public learning that Halliburton may be asked to pump and distribute Iraqi oil under the contract." Waxman also has repeated the Corps' statement that the contract could be worth up to $7 billion for up to two years, but the Corps said that figure was a cap based on a worst-case scenario of oil well fires. In fact, few wells were burning during the war with Iraq and the Corps said that by early April, the company had been paid $50.3 million. RUMOURS OF THE WAR http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/may/01/050102934.html * A TIMELINE OF THE WAR IN IRAQ Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 1st May Major events in Iraq since the war started: March 20 - U.S. forces launch early morning airstrikes at sites near Baghdad where Saddam Hussein and top aides are believed to be sleeping. Ground war begins in afternoon near Kuwaiti border. March 21 - Ground troops reach one-third of the way to Baghdad. Airstrikes on Baghdad leave government buildings ablaze. March 23 - Twelve U.S. soldiers, including Army supply clerk Jessica Lynch, 19, go missing after Iraqis ambush convoy near Nasiriyah. Iraqi TV airs footage of five captured U.S. soldiers and shows bodies of at least five others. March 24 - Two U.S. soldiers captured after their helicopter crashes, then put on Iraqi TV. March 26 - Two missiles hit Baghdad neighborhood, killing 14 and injuring 30, according to Iraq. Northern front opened as 1,000 Army troops parachute into Kurdish-controlled enclave. March 28 - With port of Umm Qasr finally cleared of mines, British ship makes first sizable humanitarian delivery. March 29 - Suicide attacker pretending to be a taxi driver needing help kills four U.S. soldiers. April 1 - Lynch rescued from hospital by U.S. special operations forces. Eight bodies buried nearby later identified as members of her unit. April 4 - Soldiers seize Saddam International Airport, rename it Baghdad International. April 7 - U.S. tanks rumble through downtown Baghdad. Bunker-buster bomb hits buildings where Saddam and other officials are believed to be. British forces take Basra. April 9 - American commanders declare Saddam's regime no longer rules Baghdad. Jubilant crowds greet troops, go on looting rampages, topple a 40-foot statue of Saddam. April 11 - "The Saddam regime has ended," U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks says. At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer adds: "The regime is gone." April 12 - Looters ransack government offices, embassies, hospitals, businesses and the Iraq National Museum. Saddam's science adviser surrenders, insists Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. April 13 - Iraqi troops release seven U.S. POWs. April 15 - U.S.-sponsored forum in biblical city of Ur brings Iraqi opposition leaders together to shape the country's postwar government. American commandos in Baghdad capture the Palestinian terrorist who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. April 16 - Seventeen Iraqis killed in clashes between U.S. troops and locals in Mosul. April 18 - Several most-wanted Iraqis are captured, including the mastermind of Iraq's nerve agent program. Video and audio recordings of Saddam surface, purportedly made April 9. April 19 - Seven ex-POWs return to home bases in Texas. April 21 - Retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, Iraq's postwar administrator, arrives in Baghdad. Two more top members of Saddam's regime, including his son-in-law, in custody. April 23 - Restoration of electricity in Baghdad begins; oil flows in southern Iraq. April 24 - Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister, taken into U.S. custody. April 25 - U.S. forces capture Farouk Hijazi, an Iraqi intelligence official accused of links to al-Qaida, who reportedly met with Osama bin Laden in 1998. April 28 - Delegates from inside and outside Iraq meet in Baghdad and agree to hold a third meeting in May to fashion a government. Saddam's 66th birthday passes without major incident. April 29 - Thirteen Iraqis killed, 75 wounded by U.S. soldiers after the troops come under fire during protest in Saddam stronghold of Fallujah, near Baghdad. April 30 - Two people killed, 14 wounded in another confrontation with U.S. soldiers. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visits Baghdad. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8622-2003May3.html * EMBEDDED IN IRAQ: WAS IT WORTH IT? Washington Post, 4th May During the 21-day war in Iraq, nine Washington Post correspondents were embedded with U.S. forces, giving them unusual access while restricting their freedom of movement. The arrangement is destined to become the subject of academic study and debate. Here, five of the Post correspondents assess the trade-offs. Mary Beth Sheridan: In a month of being embedded with a U.S. Army helicopter brigade, I had observed stunning things. The nighttime flash of combat on the horizon. A Scud exploding overhead. But as I walked into a U.S. military hospital in central Iraq, I saw a truly shocking scene: an Iraqi family, wounded. Hassan, 30, a taxi driver, was spattered with shrapnel and had a broken arm. His younger sister, in a pink robe, was worrying over her bedridden, bandaged 7-year-old son. Their 12 year-old brother's arm was in a cast. Hassan said a U.S. tank had fired on their car near Baghdad, killing his mother and injuring the others. The war had been going on for 21/2 weeks. But these were the first Iraqis I had met. It was a measure of how much I had lived in the military bubble that I was startled at their wounds. We don't shoot civilians, the pilots had told me over and over. They believed it. On some level, so did I. All the soldiers carried pocket-sized cards with the rules of engagement. Pilots returning from missions emphasized how they'd labored to observe them. They would take fire from buildings, feel their bodies stiffen with fear and anger, and not shoot back, since they couldn't pinpoint the origin of the attack. And the pilots saw themselves as professionals. They flew the most advanced attack helicopters in the world, with radar- and laser-guided weapons systems, and took pride in their training and knowledge. They weren't baby killers. When they did return fire, though, they often couldn't see whom they had hit. Nor could we; the AH-64 Apaches were two-seaters, with no room for journalists. We lived at makeshift desert bases away from the people. We never saw the dead. As a reporter traveling with the military, I had extraordinary freedom to interview whom I wished and write what I wished. I found many of the pilots remarkably open about their failures, as well as their successes. I didn't feel censored. But the soldiers had mantras that were so widely held they were a kind of group-think. We don't kill civilians. We're here to help. I don't know how these ideas were transmitted. But on the hermetic military bases, islands with little news and few outsiders, they went unchallenged. Without realizing it, you could get taken in by their narratives, to think that war wasn't messy. Until you met people like Hassan. "I know they don't mean to kill civilians," he said, his eyes welling with tears. "But I lost my mother. What I do?" Rick Atkinson: The brief document, dated March 18, was signed by Lt. Col. D.J. Reyes, chief intelligence officer for the 101st Airborne Division. Under "subject," it cited my name and Social Security number. Then: "This memorandum authorizes Mr. Atkinson secret-level access to all 101st Division activities. This includes, but is not limited to, planning, operations and briefings." Accompanied by a laminated badge, the pass admitted me to the tactical operations center -- the division command post -- the unit's cerebral cortex for the war that began two days later. When the 101st pushed into Iraq, where conditions were appalling and sheltered work space was at a premium, I was given a chair and a small table in the top-secret planning tent -- after a stern warning from one sergeant that unauthorized disclosure of any impending operations meant "you will go to jail." In 20 years of writing about the military -- including two previous stints as an embedded reporter, in Bosnia and Somalia -- I had never seen a more intimate arrangement between journalists and soldiers. In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a handful of reporters accompanied military units. Their copy, videotapes and recordings were "pooled" and made available to all journalists in the theater, but in many cases they were kept at arm's length, subject to censorship, and beset with enormous logistical and communications difficulties. In World War II, which I have studied as a historian, reporters often traveled with military units -- in fact, they were required to wear uniforms and essentially were integrated into the command structure -- yet their dispatches were heavily censored to the point that controversial, critical and even mildly sensitive material was suppressed. In the recent war, censorship was essentially self-regulated and mostly limited to operational details that would help the Iraqis figure out the Americans' next move. As the war in Iraq unfolded, the struggles and skirmishes of the 101st Airborne were often transparent: those against the Iraqis, and those within a division battling logistical, tactical, meteorological and, occasionally, personal challenges. At all times, however, it was a view through a soda straw; only when melded with the dispatches of my 19 Post colleagues in the region, and the battalion of reporters in Washington, London and elsewhere, was it possible to provide readers with a comprehensive account. Two events in the war remain particularly vivid in terms of the access permitted an outsider. The first occurred barely an hour after I arrived by helicopter with Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the 101st commander, at Forward Operating Base Shell, the division's first major encampment in Iraq. Senior AH-64 Apache attack helicopter pilots from the division gathered in a large tent for a conference call by speakerphone with pilots from the 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment, who had just completed a catastrophic mission that left only seven of 35 participating Apaches still battle-worthy. The 45-minute discussion was a riveting -- and revealing -- exchange between aviators who had just been shot to pieces and others who were about to undertake their first combat mission toward Baghdad. The second event occurred more than a week later as the 2nd Brigade of the 101st assaulted Karbala. By remaining at Petraeus's elbow from mid-morning until late afternoon, I witnessed in minute-by-minute detail the extraordinarily weighty decisions required by commanders attacking a large city. The sequence at times was ragged -- particularly when two laser-guided bombs "went stupid" and, in one case, detonated behind us -- but it also provided a palpable sense of the relentless responsibilities of command. The U.S. military in general, and the U.S. Army in particular, took a calculated risk in permitting more than 600 journalists to see the war in ways not possible for a generation. They clearly believed they had a compelling story to share with the American public, which is the ultimate proprietor of that Army. It was a fair gamble, for both sides. [.....] http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=463 * DEAL WITH IRAQI COMMANDER OPENED BAGHDAD TO MARINES DEBKA-Net-Weekly, 13th April Saddam's scientific adviser and liaison with the UN arms inspectors, General Amer Hammoudi Al-Saadi, was not the first Iraqi general to turn himself in to American forces. Just before closing its last edition on April 11, DEBKA-Net-Weekly received the first fragmentary reports from its intelligence sources of another general who trod the same secret path before him. Those reports shed partial light on the ease with which the US 1st Marines Expeditionary Force was able to reach the heart of Baghdad on Wednesday, April 9, without encountering substantial Iraqi resistance. In one case, the Republican Guards supposed to defend the Diyala River bridges and keep American forces out of east Baghdad suddenly stopped shooting and deserted their posts. In general, large sections of the elite SRG divisions charged with defending Baghdad melted away without inflicting or suffering casualties. In this sense, the keys to east Baghdad were handed over by the high commander of Iraq's elite Special Republic guards, General Maher Safian Al-Tikriti, another of Saddam Hussein's cousins. This was the upshot of discussions that took place between him and US special forces and CIA officers deployed undercover in the Iraqi-controlled parts of Baghdad. General Takriti agreed to let US forces roll into central Baghdad unopposed across bridges that were not blown up in return for an American guarantee of safe exit from the city for his troops and a promise they would not be pursued.. Twenty-four hours after American troops entered Baghdad, American B-52 bombers carried out a "bunker-buster" raid against the presidential bunker command system underneath the Dora district of southern Baghdad. It was the US bombers' second sortie against the same site. The first attack on March 19 was the war's opening shot, described as a "raid of opportunity" against a leadership target. American bomb experts were much better prepared for the second bombardment; they had discovered by then that Saddam's subterranean edifices can only be destroyed by repeated pounding that eventually crack the walls until they cave in. On the whole, US commanders know much more about the vulnerabilities of these underground command posts and the movements of senior Iraqis through their subterranean passageways than they did on March 19. The question is does this knowledge come from intelligence data gathered by US special forces teams operating on the ground? Or the product of deals, ad hoc or not, with Iraqi commanders? The deal with Safian Al-Tikriti was one of four transactions pulled off at the same time. Kirkuk-Mosul: Neither of those oil-rich northern cities was taken by bombardment or battle but through surrender deals negotiated between US special forces and the Iraqi commanders charged with defending the towns and their oil installations. The Iraqi units agreed to hold the fort and hold their surrender in abeyance until US forces arrived to take over. As it happened, the Kurdish militias jumped the gun and entered the oil cities before receiving a signal from the Americans, who had no choice but to give them air cover. Al Amara: While looters were rampaging and setting fires in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul, the Iraqi 4th Corps quietly withdrew from its positions at the strategic town of Al Amara on the Iraq-Iran border and made way for a single US Marine battalion. The deal here was for the Iraqi 10th Armored Division, the backbone of the fighting force, to be allowed to head north without interference. These Iraqi troops are gone from Al Amarnah but no one knows where they ended up. General Al-Saadi: Saddam's scientific adviser turned himself in Saturday, April 12, taking with him some of Iraq's WMD secrets. He sat quietly at home waiting to be picked up as arranged in his secret exchanges with the Americans before the war. DEBKAfile's intelligence sources add that for some reason no one came to collect him possibly because a trap was suspected. In the end, he took the initiative and escorted by a German television crewman presented himself to the US generals in Baghdad, keeping his side of the bargain. All these secret deals especially the one with General Takriti - raise two important questions: 1. Was the Baghdad transaction the only one closed with Safian Al-Tikriti ? Or was it part of a package? 2. Were this and any other trades approved in full or in part by Saddam Hussein or his sons? If so, what did they get in return? Does it mean that the decisive battle will take place in Tikrit after all? This would depend on whether General Al-Tikriti dealt with the Americans with the knowledge of Saddam and his sons or betrayed him not merely to save his men but to keep the town of Tikrit and his clan's homes safe. If that is what happened, then Tikrit, like Najaf, al Kut, Karbala and Baghdad, will fall to the Americans without much real opposition. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/06/1051987706989.html * LEGALITY OF WAR NO LONGER AN ISSUE: PM by Mark Riley Sydney Morning Herald, 7th May The Prime Minister has said questions of the international legitimacy of the invasion of Iraq should be dropped now that the conflict phase of the war has ended. Speaking at the United Nations in New York on Monday, John Howard said there was no value in continuing to argue whether the United States, Britain and Australia had a legal right to launch the war. Mr Howard also rejected suggestions that Australia supported the war to position itself as a key member of a new "Anglosphere" of power in world politics. The debate over post-war arrangements, such as the role of the UN in Iraq, should not become "an arena to debate again old arguments", he said. "As long as there is not an attempt to redebate the whole issue and the rights and wrongs of it, I think everyone can move forward in a very practical and sensible way." Key nations at the UN, including Security Council members Russia and France, strongly disagree with that view. Those countries that opposed the war have indicated they will not support the removal of UN sanctions on Iraq unless the issue of whether the action was supported under international law is resolved. The Security Council resolutions imposed on Iraq say that the sanctions regime can only be removed when UN weapons inspectors have verified that the country has no more weapons of mass destruction. The US is planning to put a new resolution amending that stand to allow the lifting of sanctions if it and its coalition partners in the war can supply that verification. The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, whom Mr Howard met in New York on Monday, has supported the return of the UN weapons inspectors to continue their work. Mr Howard said it was up to the Security Council to decide whether the inspectors should return and "the rationale, the raison d'etre for the sanctions has disappeared". Australia had no say in the final decision on the UN inspectors because it was not on the Security Council, he said. However, the US, a permanent member, strongly opposes the inspectors' return. Mr Howard launched a historical defence of Australia's authority in intervening in Middle Eastern affairs when asked by Abderrahim Foukara, of the Arab television news network Al-Jazeera, whether the country was exercising its influence "a long way from home". Mr Howard said Australia had been involved in military campaigns in the region in the world wars and had also contributed peacekeepers to UN forces in the Gaza Strip. History showed Australia's decision to join the military offensive in Iraq was "not a first", he said. Foukara said later that the Arab world understood Australia's political intentions in joining the US invasion of Iraq but did not understand what it saw as its future role in the country and the region. Mr Howard repeated that Australia would not make any "significant" contribution to peacekeeping in Iraq, but could not say how long the postwar force of up to 1200 Australian military personnel would remain in the country. The contingent's future was "a matter for us to consider from time to time", he said. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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