The London Sunday Telegraph – 2005-11-13 23:38:40
Poll: Iraqis Oppose Foreign Troops
Al Jazeera / The London Sunday Telegraph
(October 23, 2005) — Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks on US and British troops are justified, according to a secret poll said to have been commissioned by British defence leaders and cited by The Sunday Telegraph.
Less than 1% of those polled believed that the forces were responsible for any improvement in security. Eighty-two per cent of those polled said they were strongly opposed to the presence of the troops.
The paper said the poll, conducted in August by an Iraqi university research team, was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence.
Britain has more than 8,000 soldiers stationed in the south of Iraq, and has had 97 soldiers killed, the most recent killed by a roadside bomb on Tuesday night.
On Sunday morning, a car bomb killed four people, including two police officers, when it exploded near a police patrol in central Baghdad, Iraqi police said.
The blast also injured 13 others, both police and civilians.
The past 10 days have seen a relative lull in violence amid a constitutional referendum on 15 October and the start of Saddam Hussein’s trial for crimes against humanity on Wednesday.
On Sunday, the US military confirmed that four American contractors were killed and two wounded in Iraq last month when their convoy got lost and was attacked by an angry group of Iraqis†in a town north of Baghdad.
The attack occurred on 20 September when the convoy, which included US military guards riding in Humvees, made a wrong turn into the mostly Sunni Arab town of Duluiya and armed fighters opened fire with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Major Richard Goldenberg, a spokesman for Task Force Liberty in north-central Iraq, said.
“Task Force Liberty soldiers, which have a forward operating base in that area, responded to assist the convoy, administered first aid to two wounded contractors and evacuated the remains of four contractors killed,” Goldenberg said.
He said the attack caused no US military casualties, but that his men, acting on a tip, returned to the area two days later to detain an individual suspected of ties to the attack, and killed two†people after coming under fire.
The 20 September Duluiya attack, which occurred about 75km north of Baghdad, was first reported on Saturday by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
It was not immediately clear why the US military had not reported the deaths earlier, but two other military spokesmen said on Sunday that the military generally relied on US government officials to report the deaths of American civilians and contractors in Iraq.
The men worked for Halliburton
subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root
The contractors killed or wounded were identified by the newspaper as employees of the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, the biggest US military contractor in Iraq, but Goldenberg said he could not confirm their identities.
He said the convoy was being protected by a separate division of the US military, and that Task Force Liberty soldiers responded because it was travelling north through their district when the attack occurred.
The newspaper reported that two of the contractors who had not been killed in the initial attack in Duluiya were dragged alive from their vehicle, which had been badly shot up, and forced to kneel in the road before being killed.
The paper said: “Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight.”
It said: “Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man’s body to stoke the flames.” The crowd then “dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-US slogans”, the newspaper reported.
Goldenberg said he could not confirm such details since his men were not at the scene when the attack occurred.
But he questioned a part of the report saying the US soldiers escorting the convoy were unable to respond quickly because the hatches on their Humvees were closed.
He said gunners generally had open positions on top of such vehicles.
In its report on the attack, The Washington Post said on Sunday that the September killings brought to about 320 the number of non-Iraqi contractors killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003, according to statistics complied by the Brookings Institution.
At least 1996 US servicemen and women have been killed since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
More than 15,000 have been wounded.
Blair Faces Impeachment over War Lies
Cusick, Westminster Editor / Sunday Herald
(13 November 2005) — MPs organising the campaign to impeach Tony Blair believe they have enough support to force a highly damaging Commons investigation into the Prime Minister’s pre-war conduct.
A renewed attempt to impeach Blair over claims he misled parlia ment in making his case for war against Iraq, will be made in the Commons within the next two weeks.
The impeachment process effectively stalled last year when just 23 MPs signed a Commons motion. But the scale of the government’s defeat on its anti-terror legislation last week – where 49 Labour MPs rebelled – has galvanised the momentum for proceedings to be invoked.
Organisers say they are expecting 200 cross-party signatures, including those of former government ministers, to force the Commons to set up a Privy Council investigation that would examine in detail the case for impeachment against Blair.
The size of the Labour revolt, allied to unified opposition benches, is said to have changed the climate inside the Commons.
SNP leader, Alex Salmond, one of the key figures in the impeachment campaign, said he now believed that the cross-party attempt to bring the government to account over the Iraq war “would become more urgent than predicted problems associated with social legislation in England and Wales”.
Following the Commons defeat, it was predicted that future flashpoints for Blair would include a new education reform bill, likely to be presented next spring and new legislation to broaden reform inside the NHS with greater competition from the private sector.
Potential backbench revolts are also predicted if Blair makes any move to update the Trident nuclear programme or tries to introduce a new era of nuclear-generated energy.
Next month, a Green Paper on welfare reform, expected to include moves to cut incapacity benefit, was expected to be the first attack point for Labour dissidents.
However, any parliamentary success on the matter of impeachment is likely to over-shadow other issues.
If the promised signatures materialise, and a vote on the impeachment process is taken, the opportunity to deliver a substantial knock-down blow to Blair is not likely to be passed up by Labour rebels and opposition alike.
One MP last night: “This would be a golden opportunity. It would be pay-back time for Blair over the way he manipulated parliament before the Iraq war in 2003.
“Last week’s defeat changed the atmosphere in the Commons. The hunt is on, as they say.”
Although the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has remained publicly loyal to Blair since the defeat, last night, one of Brown’s closest parliamentary allies disobeyed his call to back the Prime Minister unquestioningly.
The former Treasury minister, Geoffrey Robinson, insisted the Prime Minister had to allow his successor sufficient time to win a fourth term. The comment effectively challenges Blair’s claim that he will serve out a “full third term”.
Blair has acknowledged how difficult the task ahead of him now is. He said in a newspaper interview this weekend that he now faced “a rough ride” to push through his reform agenda. But he insisted there would be no spectacular U-turn, saying he was still determined to “continue doing what was right, not what is easy”.
An organiser of the impeachment campaign told the Sunday Herald: “We have been promised 200 signatures and are now hopeful this process will go ahead as it should have last year. There will be a vote and an investigation will be set up. Does this have the potential to finish Tony Blair? Yes it does.”
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