Morning Report 5/12/05
Misery Accomplished

Wipeout in Iraq … Galloway and the 'lickspittle' Senate panel

Defense Dept.

World of hurt: Marine PFC Oscar A. Martinez's boots and helmet command attention at a chapel in Okinawa. Martinez was killed in action last fall in Anbar Province, site of renewed deadly fighting in western Iraq

Has it really been two years since George W. Bush stuffed his codpiece and solemnly announced, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed"?

Mark Follman dredged up that quote the other day in Salon's War Room, which is always worth the price of admission.

The price of Bush's admission? He'll never admit to failure, but the Marines of Lima Company are feeling the pain of that, as the Washington Post's Ellen Knickmeyer reports this morning. The major combat operation in Anbar Province, near the Syrian border, has practically wiped out one of Lima's squads. Knickmeyer's story is a brilliant piece of frontline writing:

    The explosion enveloped the armored vehicle in flames, sending orange balls of fire bubbling above the trees along the Euphrates River near the Syrian border.

    Marines in surrounding vehicles threw open their hatches and took off running across the plowed fields, toward the already blackening metal of the destroyed vehicle. Shouting, they pulled to safety those they could, as the flames ignited the bullets, mortar rounds, flares and grenades inside, rocketing them into the sky and across pastures.

    Gunnery Sgt. Chuck Hurley emerged from the smoke and turmoil around the vehicle, circling toward the spot where helicopters would later land to pick up casualties. As he passed one group of Marines, he uttered one sentence: "That was the same squad."

The Amtrac had blown up. Wipeout in Iraq. Knickmeyer summed it up:

    In 96 hours of fighting and ambushes in far western Iraq, the squad had ceased to be.

    Every member of the squad—one of three that make up the 1st Platoon of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment—had been killed or wounded, Marines here said. All told, the 1st Platoon—which Hurley commands—had sustained 60 percent casualties, demolishing it as a fighting force.

    "They used to call it Lucky Lima," said Maj. Steve Lawson, commander of the company. "That turned around and bit us."

In the best tradition of wartime reporting, Knickmeyer didn't let the color stand alone; she added perspective:

    Wednesday was the fourth day of fighting in far western Iraq, as the U.S. military continued an assault that has sent more than 1,000 Marines down the ungoverned north bank of the Euphrates River in search of foreign fighters crossing the border from Syria. Of seven Marines killed so far in the operation, six came come from Lima Company's 1st Platoon.

    Lima Company drew Marine reservists from across Ohio into the conflict in Iraq. Some were still too young to be bothered much by shaving, or even stubble.


Senate pays back Galloway

Respect

Hands up: George Galloway at a campaign fundraiser in Birmingham last year

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Reaching across the Atlantic Ocean to do a favor for Tony Blair, a U.S. Senate panel has released an oil-for-food report that accuses impudent war critic George Galloway of making money off of Saddam Hussein.

Thrown out of Blair's Labor party, Galloway formed his own party, called it Respect, and got some last week by winning back a seat in Parliament. In the oil-for-food scandal, he's faced similar accusations before, and he's even won libel suits defending his honor.

"I have never profited from anything related to Iraq," Galloway tells the BBC about the latest allegations, adding:

    "This is a lickspittle Republican committee, acting on the wishes of George W. Bush."

Galloway's reaction to the Senate report is predictable:

    "One of the companies named, with ostensible links to me—Aredio Petroleum—I have never heard of until today and I have certainly had no dealings with. The other company, Middle East Advanced Semiconductors, was owned by Fawaz Zureikat, who was the chairman of the Mariam Appeal. It is well-known that Mr Zureikat traded with Iraq but he did not do so on my behalf. I have not received a penny piece or any oil voucher from Iraq, directly or indirectly.

    "You would have thought that natural justice would have demanded that these allegations would have—must have been!—put to me, but they haven't been. Senator Joseph McCarthy would have proud of this committee."

This time, however, the accusations come from the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Sounds credible, right? After all, Carl Levin of Michigan is the ranking Democrat on the panel, and Levin broke the Riggs Bank scandal, which savaged the Bush regime, big oil, and their pals for shuffling money for Equatorial Guinea's absurd dictator, Teodoro Obiang.

And the Senate committee insists that this is fresh evidence. But wait a minute. The new report accusing Galloway carries the imprimatur of Levin and panel chairman Norm Coleman of Minnesota. It's "bipartisan," in other words, whereas Levin's monumental investigation of Riggs Bank was produced solely by the committee's minority staff—the Democrats.

This is definitely payback for Galloway's embarrassing Blair, and it's likely an attempt to keep Galloway embroiled so that he doesn't have time to properly harangue Blair during question time. As CNN reported after Galloway's win:

    Galloway declared his victory as a victory for Iraq.

    "All the people you killed, all the lies you told, have come back to haunt you," Galloway said in a message to prime minister Blair.

    "The best thing the Labour party could do is sack you tomorrow morning," he said to cheers from the audience.

Funny, isn't it, that the Senate rushes to probe Galloway (and a former French minister) for their alleged links to Saddam. Meanwhile, Republicans like Norm Coleman have refused all requests for Congressional investigations of the oil-for-slush scandal and other war-related matters that might embarrass the Bush regime.

Guess there's just not enough time in the Senate's day to investigate Halliburton.

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