Monday, January 09, 2006

ANOTHER DEADLY DAY IN IRAQ. Twelve American soldiers were killed when their Blackhawk helicopter crashed, for as yet unknown reasons, in northern Iraq.

The Iraq war could end up costing the U.S. between one and two trillian dollars, according to a new study.

The study, which expanded on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, concluded that the US government is continuing to underestimate the cost of the war.

The report came during one of the most deadly periods in Iraq since the invasion, with the US military yesterday revising upwards to 11 the number of its troops killed during a wave of insurgent attacks on Thursday. More than 130 civilians were also killed when suicide bombers struck Shia pilgrims in Karbala and a police recruiting station in Ramadi.

The paper on the real cost of the war, written by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, is likely to add to the pressure on the White House on the war. It also followed the revelation this week that the White House had scaled back ambitions to rebuild Iraq and did not intend to seek funds for reconstruction.

Mr Stiglitz told the Guardian that despite the staggering costs laid out in their paper the economists had erred on the side of caution. "Our estimates are very conservative, and it could be that the final costs will be much higher. And it should be noted they do not include the costs of the conflict to either Iraq or the UK." In 2003, as US and British troops were massing on the Iraq border, Larry Lindsey, George Bush's economic adviser, suggested the costs might reach $200bn. The White House said the figure was far too high, and the deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, said Iraq could finance its own reconstruction.

And here's the punch-in-the-stomach line:

But in terms of the total cost of the war "there may have been alternative ways of spending a fraction of that amount that would have enhanced America's security more, and done a better job in winning the hearts and minds of those in the Middle East and promoting democracy."

The Left Coaster's eriposte takes on Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom for his screed against Steve Soto. Jeff accused Steve of taking delight in Al Qaeda's taunting public statement that the U.S.'s plan to withdraw troops was an admission of defeat -- a smear Jeff picked up from an out-of-context citation of a quote on Steve's post.

Yesterday, in the middle of a round-up post, Steve posted this brief note (emphasis mine):

I have to admit it is fun to see Al Qaeda play Bush like a violin. But at least Zalmay Khalilzad is doing the right thing by meeting with local insurgents and split them off from Al Qaeda.

Jim Geraghty at National Review (TKS) deliberately ignored the second sentence (which provided complete context to the first sentence by showing that Steve is happy that Khalilzad is trying to prevent Al Qaeda from getting support in Iraq), and simply posted the first sentence with the note "revealing". With the first sentence taken out of context and presented in a deliberately misleading fashion, it should be no surprise that it would get picked up by someone else fishing for the next round of BS to print on their blog. In this case, that someone would be the enterprising Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom. Perhaps he wanted a well-earned break from his relentless BSing on King-George-gate, but in any case, he uses Geraghty's citation of Steve's post to write an entire post constructing nonsensical claims about the "left". For example, he says (emphasis mine):

Then today, we find that Left Coaster actually enjoys that the US Commander in Chief in a time of war is supposedly being "played like a violin" by al Qaeda -- that those who have vowed to kill us and who slaughter civilians on a whim have supposedly outmaneuvered the President and the military in Iraq, the proof being that Zawahiri appears to be following the Democratic-narrative that any withdraw of troops should be seen as a defeat for the US, an acknowledgment that we are losing the war, and are so succumbing to pressure both from the insurgents and the Democratic party leadership (who, on this particular issue, seem to be on the very same page).

"Zawahiri appears to be following the Democratic-narrative that any withdraw of troops should be seen as a defeat for the US"????

Please. That is not the "Democratic-narrative". That is Bush's narrative. That is also the narrative of those have been trying to clean up Bush's wide-ranging crap all these years, peddling the same bulls*** talking points that Bush utters every time he opens his mouth. When Jack Murtha called for a troop withdrawal, who said that a withdrawal is the same as conceding defeat to the enemy and the terrorists? It was Bush and his patsies. It obviously was not the Democrats (more on this below). (If they had said it, it would have been political suicide and even the Democrats are not that dumb.)

There is much more, and I must admit it's fun to see the conservabloggers foaming at the mouth when their own inanities come back to haunt them.

A true American hero died yesterday, at much too young an age.

We are in bad need of more Hugh Thompsons today; here is one example:

New details have emerged of how the growing number of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay are being tied down and force-fed through tubes pushed down their nasal passages into their stomachs to keep them alive.

They routinely experience bleeding and nausea, according to a sworn statement by the camp's chief doctor, seen by The Observer.

"Experience teaches us" that such symptoms must be expected "whenever nasogastric tubes are used," says the affidavit of Captain John S. Edmondson, commander of Guantanamo's hospital. The procedure -- now standard practice at Guantanamo -- "requires that a foreign body be inserted into the body and, ideally, remain in it." But staff always use a lubricant, and "a nasogastric tube is never inserted and moved up and down. It is inserted down into the stomach slowly and directly, and it would be impossible to insert the wrong end of the tube." Medical personnel do not insert nasogastric tubes in a manner "intentionally designed to inflict pain."

It is painful, Edmonson admits. Although "non-narcotic pain relievers such as ibuprofen are usually sufficient, sometimes stronger drugs," including opiates such as morphine, have had to be administered.

Thick, 4.8mm diameter tubes tried previously to allow quicker feeding, so permitting guards to keep prisoners in their cells for more hours each day, have been abandoned, the affidavit says. The new 3mm tubes are "soft and flexible."

The London solicitors Allen and Overy, who represent some of the hunger strikers, have lodged a court action to be heard next week in California, where Edmondson is registered to practise. They are asking for an order that the state medical ethics board investigate him for "unprofessional conduct" for agreeing to the force-feeding.

Edmonson's affidavit, in response to a lawsuit on behalf of detainees on hunger strike since last August, was obtained last week by The Observer, as a Guantanamo spokesman confirmed that the number of hunger strikers has almost doubled since Christmas, to 81 of the 550 detainees. Many have been held since the camp opened four years ago this month, although they not been charged with any crime, nor been allowed to see any evidence justifying their detention.

This and other Guantanamo lawsuits now face extinction. Last week, President Bush signed into law a measure removing detainees' right to file habeas corpus petitions in the US federal courts. On Friday, the administration asked the Supreme Court to make this retroactive, so nullifying about 220 cases in which prisoners have contested the basis of their detention and the legality of pending trials by military commission.

Although some prisoners have had to be tied down while being force-fed, "only one patient" has had to be immobilised with a six-point restraint, and "only one" passed out. "In less than 10 cases have trained medical personnel had to use four-point restraint in order to achieve insertion." Edmondson claims the actual feeding is voluntary. During Ramadan, tube-feeding takes place before dawn.

Article 5 of the 1975 World Medical Association Tokyo Declaration, which US doctors are legally bound to observe through their membership of the American Medical Association, states that doctors must not undertake force-feeding under any circumstances. Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist at Queen Elizabeth's hospital in Birmingham, is co-ordinating opposition to the Guantanamo doctors' actions from the international medical community. "If I were to do what Edmondson describes in his statement, I would be referred to the General Medical Council and charged with assault," he said.


Anonymous said...

Here's a picture of Jeff's supposed brain at work. jeff has an interesting meme, he's has a civil tone while talking from the gutter and accusing people of being terrorist sympatheizers.

Chief said...


Here is the link to the Blimes/Stiglitz paper. I am about 1/3 thru it. Has a lot of what I assume are cold hard facts that surprise me. In the numbers of troops killed/maimed.