Due to being busy for the past two weeks, I skipped last week's news post. Here are this week's articles:
The Debate Over Immigration Reform - An excellent piece by the New York Times that compares the recent immigration bills passed by the Senate and House.
A showdown is looming over the most substantial overhaul of immigration law in 20 years. The Senate has passed a bill that would toughen border security and put most illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. In contrast, the House has passed legislation that offers no provision for citizenship. President Bush is also deeply involved in the immigration debate and generally favors the provisions present in the Senate bill. The next step is for Senate and House leaders to meet in conference to try to reconcile their separate bills. The gulf between the two versions is so vast, and the politics of immigration so heated in this election year, that the prospects for a deal remain murky at best.Misjudgments Marred U.S. Plans for Iraqi Police
As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country.Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ‘in cold blood’:
Three years later, the police are a battered and dysfunctional force that has helped bring Iraq to the brink of civil war. Police units stand accused of operating death squads for powerful political groups or simple profit. Citizens, deeply distrustful of the force, are setting up their own neighborhood security squads. Killings of police officers are rampant, with at least 547 slain this year, roughly as many as Iraqi and American soldiers combined, records show.
Like so much that has defined the course of the war, the realities on the ground in Iraq did not match the planning in Washington. An examination of the American effort to train a police force in Iraq, drawn from interviews with several dozen American and Iraqi officials, internal police reports and visits to Iraqi police stations and training camps, reveals a cascading series of misjudgments by White House and Pentagon officials, who repeatedly underestimated the role the United States would need to play in rebuilding the police and generally maintaining order.
Before the war, the Bush administration dismissed as unnecessary a plan backed by the Justice Department to rebuild the police force by deploying thousands of American civilian trainers. Current and former administration officials said they were relying on a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that said the Iraqi police were well trained. The C.I.A. said its assessment conveyed nothing of the sort.
After Baghdad fell, when the majority of Iraqi police officers abandoned their posts, a second proposal by a Justice Department team calling for 6,600 police trainers was reduced to 1,500, and then never carried out. During the first eight months of the occupation — as crime soared and the insurgency took hold — the United States deployed 50 police advisers in Iraq.
Against the objections of Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, the long-range plan was eventually reduced to 500 trainers. The result was a police captain from North Carolina having 40 Americans to train 20,000 Iraqi police across four provinces in southern Iraq.
A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.Probe Finds Marines Killed Unarmed Iraqi Civilians:
From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.
On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.
On Nov. 20, U.S. Marines spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool issued a statement saying that on the previous day a roadside bomb had killed 15 civilians and a Marine. In a later gunbattle, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed eight insurgents, he said.
U.S. military officials later confirmed that the version of events was wrong.
Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources within the military have told him that an internal investigation will show that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
Marines from Camp Pendleton wantonly killed unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, and then tried to cover up the slayings in the insurgent stronghold of Haditha, military investigations have found.Springtime for Killing in Afghanistan:
Officials who have seen the findings of the investigations said the filing of criminal charges, including some murder counts, was expected, which would make the Nov. 19 incident the most serious case of alleged U.S. war crimes in Iraq.
An administrative inquiry overseen by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell found that several infantry Marines fatally shot as many as 24 Iraqis and that other Marines either failed to stop them or filed misleading or blatantly false reports.
TO most Americans, Afghanistan has been a war of great clarity, the opposite of the war in Iraq with all its troubles and cloudy origins.Gonzales Said He Would Quit in Raid Dispute:
Or so Americans thought.
In the last six weeks, a resurgent Taliban has surprised the Americans with the ferocity of its annual spring offensive and set some officials here to worrying that the United States might become tied down in a prolonged battle as control slips away from the central government — in favor of the movement that harbored Al Qaeda before 2001. And the number of American troops has quietly risen, not fallen.
"Afghanistan is the sleeper crisis of this summer," says John J. Hamre, who was deputy defense secretary from 1997 to 1999.
Not only have officials been surprised by the breadth of the militants' presence and the brazenness of their suicide attacks, roadside bombings and assaults by large units. They have also had to face up to the formidable entrenched obstacles to transforming Afghan society: the deep rivalries among ethnic groups, warlords and tribal leaders; the history of civil war; the trouble central governments have in extending their writ beyond the capital; and the hostility toward efforts to attack poppy growing and drug smuggling, which give many a livelihood.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.Justice Dept. Seeks to Block Suits on Spying:
Tensions were especially high because officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. viewed the Congressional protest, led by Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and House Republicans, as largely a proxy fight for battles likely to come over criminal investigations into other Republicans in Congress.
The Bush administration has asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss two lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets.House Panel Backs Net Access Bill:
John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, invoked the state secrets privilege, writing that disclosure would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security. The administration laid out some of its supporting arguments in classified memos, filed under seal.
The motion, widely anticipated, involves two cases challenging an N.S.A. program that allows investigators to eavesdrop on Americans who communicate by phone or e-mail with people outside the country suspected of terrorist ties.
A U.S. House panel Thursday voted to bar high-speed Internet providers from charging companies such as Google Inc. for priority access to their networks.
The "net neutrality" bill, approved in a 20-13 vote, would prevent phone and cable companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from using their dominance in the broadband market to control online content, Judiciary Committee members said.