August 14, 2008

Scandal over Britain's military echoes critique of murdered journalist Steven Vincent

By David Paulin

Three years ago this month, American freelance journalist Steven Vincent was kidnapped and murdered in Basra, Iraq, a port city then under British military control. His murder occurred as Britain's military – as Vincent had earlier reported -- was turning a blind eye to the rise of menacing Shiite religious groups, including those of bellicose rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

Now, three years later, the ineptitude of British forces in Basra has boiled over into a full-fledged scandal in Britain, as today's Wall Street Journal notes in an editorial, "Basra and the Brits.” The scandal concerns the failure of British military forces to lift a finger to help Iraq's Army prevail in a pivotal battle earlier this year. Explains the WSJ:

...(W)hen the Iraqi military ran into trouble at the start of their operation this year, the 4,100 Brits remained in their garrison at the airport outside the city. The Iraqis had to call in the Americans from the north for air cover and other support to help defeat radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. It was the first time the U.S. had deployed to the British-controlled region of Iraq in five years. The operation turned into a major success, with the Mahdi Army routed and the Iraq government in control.

But the British failure to act was an embarrassment, even a humiliation, and explanations have begun to emerge. All point to a failure of political leadership. It turns out that last September the British had struck a deal with Mr. Sadr, essentially ceding him control over Basra and releasing some 120 militia regulars from custody.

In exchange, the Mahdi Army let U.K. troops beat a retreat from their base inside Basra to the airport unmolested. The Times of London reports that under the deal no soldier could set foot back in the city without express permission from Defense Minister Des Browne. Reports from Iraq add that the British performance has led to significant cooling of relations between the U.S. and British military forces in Iraq.

The Brown government implicitly acknowledges the deal with Mr. Sadr -- albeit without apologizing to the people of Basra who were terrorized for half a year by the Mahdi Army.

Vincent, had he lived, would hardly have been surprised by such revelations. The art critic-turned-war reporter was the among first journalists to criticize Britain's peacekeeping effort. In an Op-Ed he published in the New York Time on July 31, 2005, “Switched off in Basra,” Vincent noted that religious groups were infiltrating civic life in Basra, including its police force; and they were, reportedly, participating in political assassinations. It was occurring while the British military sat on its hands. Vincent wrote:

...(T)he British stand above the growing turmoil, refusing to challenge the Islamists' claim on the hearts and minds of police officers. This detachment angers many Basrans. "The British know what's happening but they are asleep, pretending they can simply establish security and leave behind democracy," said the police lieutenant who had told me of the assassinations. "Before such a government takes root here, we must experience a transformation of our minds."

What accounted for such a poor performance by America's closest alley? In a sense, Britain's military was paralyzed by political correctness and a lack of ideological will, according to Vincent's account three years ago. He wrote:

Fearing to appear like colonial occupiers, they avoid any hint of ideological indoctrination: in my time with them, not once did I see an instructor explain such basics of democracy as the politically neutral role of the police in a civil society. Nor did I see anyone question the alarming number of religious posters on the walls of Basran police stations. When I asked British troops if the security sector reform strategy included measures to encourage cadets to identify with the national government rather than their neighborhood mosque, I received polite shrugs: not our job, mate.

Two days after Vincent's Op-Ed appeared, he and his Iraqi translator, Nour al-Khal, were snatched off a Basra street, shoved into a car, and driven off by men that, it's thought, may have been rogue police officers. The 49-year-old Vincent was brutally beaten. He was shot in the back. Nour, who's about 30 years old, was shot and left for dead. A year ago, Vincent's widow, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, brought Nour to America, making a home for her in her Manhattan apartment. She thereby honored her husband's pledge to remove his translator, an aspiring poet, from harm's way in Iraq.

Vincent, a former art critic, answered his calling as a war reporter after watching the 9/11 attacks from the rooftop of his Manhattan apartment. Much of his perceptive reporting may be found in his book, “In the Red Zone: A Journey into the Soul of Iraq.” Unlike Britain's current political leaders, he leaves a legacy that will endure as a testament of physical courage and moral clarity.

This was originally published by The American Thinker. The article and readers comments my be found here.

August 11, 2008

Edwards Sex Scandal Enrages Huffington Post's Gal Pundits

By David Paulin

Over at the lefty Huffington Post, John Edwards' confession of being a cheat has, interestingly, provoked fury among some of the gal pundits. They're mercilessly trashing the pretty boy populist -- spitting a toxic venom that even their like-minded male counterparts cannot match. Some, incredibly, are even digging their nails into Edwards' wife Elizabeth (who is battling cancer) for having aided and abetted her husband's public lies.

What's going on?

Could these ladies be writing with some deeper understanding of the issues at play, perhaps having suffered, like so many American women, at the hands of philandering boyfriends or spouses? According to one survey, 50 to 60 percent of married men have broken their marriage vows -- compared to 45 to 50 percent of women. Perhaps the columnists are subconsciously tapping into their outrage over the humiliation that their sister, Hillary, suffered in the White House.

However, perhaps their outrage underscores something really profound: Yes, America is in the midst of a culture war -- but marital infidelity, it seems, is definitely not an issue that any longer divides many Republican and Democratic women -- if it ever did. Indeed, none of the Edwards-hating Huffington Post lefties reveals a trace of the sophisticated “European attitude” about cheating husbands: the belief that flawed marriages with wandering men are not a big deal, even with all those lies (both public and private) that usually go along with keeping mistresses and fathering “love” children.

What a C.R.E.E.P” declares Huffington columnist Nancy Snow, sniffing that the Edwards scandal distracted her from writing about the Olympics. “Now the 300 million dollar extravaganza in Beijing will have to wait as I contemplate the rise and fall of the 400 dollar haircut man.”

"Infidelity affects the daily rhythm of life,” columnist Jill Brooke thoughtfully observed, before letting loose some choice words: “It's easy for many women to say, 'I'd dump the bastard,' until it actually happens to them.”

Imagine being Elizabeth Edwards,” she wrote. “Not only is she battling terminal cancer, but she now must muster the strength to deal with the news that her husband had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter.”

And then there's Bonnie Fuller, whose column is perhaps the most perceptive of the lot:

It's easy to understand why John Edwards first felt he was entitled to cheat on his wife and family, and then second, thought he could keep it secret from the American public. He is a self-admitted "narcissist", and narcissists believe they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it. As psychologist Cooper Lawrence told me, "they always think some other poor schnook will get caught, not them.”

On the other hand, there's Jane Smiley: Parting company with her sister columnists, her column argues that the that the sex scandal is much ado about nothing. After all, there are things “a lot worse than adultery,” such as “denying people health care, swindling the taxpayer, starting an unnecessary war by forging documents and lying, and stealing the oil belonging to other nations..."

Yet Smiley in her way reveals some feminine outrage, too, observing that she'd “never thought adultery was a big deal in the abstract, because, as we all know, I am a liberal...” Well, Ms. Smiley, if adultery is not a big deal in the “abstract,” what might it be like if it really did happen to you? And interestingly, Smiley's not-to-worry conclusion is out of sync with her column's title: “Hiding the Scumbag.”

Regarding Edwards' wife, Fuller offers these trenchant observations:

The bigger question is "why did Elizabeth Edwards drink her husband's Kool-Aid? How could she have possibly believed that her husbands affair would remain a private matter when he was running for President of the United States? Hello, the National Enquirer had already broken the story last fall. Why in fact, did she knowingly encourage her spouse to even enter the campaign when she had been fully informed about the affair for over a year? And she helped support and propagate John Edwards' image as a devoted husband and family man.

No, Elizabeth Edwards had to be in some extraordinary form of denial and that's why she became her husband's "ambition enabler," when she supported his recent run for the presidency. My belief is that after almost thirty years of marriage she too had become so invested in his political ambitions, his cause, that she couldn't give up either, even after he cheated and she knew there was a chance his affair could be reported in the mainstream press.

His success, now defined her success, so she was willing to go along with the fraud that that their marriage was fine," believes psychologist Victoria Zdrok, currently working on a book titled," Dr. Z on Straying."

Her terminal illness may actually have also played a role in her decision to publicly stand by her man and his presidential ambitions, according to Zdrok. "When we seek death, we often seek to achieve a symbolic immortality. And becoming a presidential wife could have been that for her.

In any case, Elizabeth Edwards was a victim when her husband cheated. She did nothing to deserve that and as a wife she had every right and many reasons to forgive the jerk. But the decision to stand behind him and publicly broadcast his staunch family values image was her own doing. As courageous and admirable as she has been in dealing with her cancer, she is now the latest member of the Publicly Humiliated Wives Club, and she has no right to complain about the public's interest in knowing exactly what has happened. She helped get herself in this situation.

The title of Fuller's column: “Elizabeth Edwards Drank Her Husband's Kool-Aid And Became his 'Ambition Enabler.'”

As for Arianna Huffington, she endeavors to look at the big picture:

I've long pushed for a giant border fence separating public life and private lives. But the issue here wasn't Edwards' infidelity, it was his lying directly to the American people. The last thing we need is a sexual purity test for our politicians, but we desperately need political leaders whose word we can trust.

Well, it's interesting that telling the truth, in this context, is now so important for Huffington, one of the left's de facto spokespersons. This criteria, after all, was not one that most Democrats (including women in the party) used to judge Bill Clinton when his cheating scandal broke; and nor was it a criteria Democrats applied to Clinton when he was running for office and was known, at the time, to be a serial philander, and lier, in respect to his womanizing in Arkansas.

Could it possibly be that Huffington, a native of Greece who lived for years in Europe, has shed some of her sophisticated views about such things, too?

All in all, it will be interesting to see if the gal pundits on the conservative side of the fence muster as much venom over Edwards martial infidelity as the lefties at the Huffington Post.

This was originally published at The American Thinker, which offers up readers comments along with the story.

August 8, 2008

Fearing Muslim backlash, Random House scraps novel


Nearly three years ago, millions of Iraqi voters participated in historic parliamentary elections. They shrugged off Al-Qaida suicide bombers and pro-Saddam reactionaries, and they headed to the polls in heavy number -- proving their courage and commitment to democratic values.

Sadly, both qualities were absent in Random House's decision last May to cancel publication of “The Jewel of Medina,” a novel by 46-year-old journalist Sherry Jones. Egged on by a politically correct professor of Islamic studies, publishing executives feared the debut novel could provoke the kind of violent backlash among Muslims that was touched off by Salman Rushdie's 1988 novel “Satanic Verses.” And they nervously recalled the Danish "cartoon riots" in Europe and the Muslim world.

The full story of Random House's cowardly self-censorship – a story of how “fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world” - was the subject of a Op-Ed column in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal by Asra Q. Nomani , the noted Muslim journalist and author. In her column, Nomani described a depressing story of intellectual cowardice and academic perfidy among members of America's intellectual elite. Jones' canceled novel focues on Aisha, a young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Some of the novel's scenes are described as being “racy” in the tradition of the controversial film “The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the novel by Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis;” the film portrays Jesus and Mary Magdalene as a married couple consummating their union. In her column, "You Still Can't Write About Muhammad," Nomani related:

Random House feared the book would become a new "Satanic Verses," the Salman Rushdie novel of 1988 that led to death threats, riots and the murder of the book's Japanese translator, among other horrors. In an interview about Ms. Jones's novel, Thomas Perry, deputy publisher at Random House Publishing Group, said that it "disturbs us that we feel we cannot publish it right now." He said that after sending out advance copies of the novel, the company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."
Who was the source for this ominous warning?

It was a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Texas in Austin, Denise Spellberg, whom Jones had innocently thought might write a blub for the book. Instead, the professor hated it. She regarded it as an “ugly, stupid piece of work”-- one that “made fun of Muslims and their history,” according to Nomani's account. Indeed, the professor thought the book could prove to be a “declaration of war...a national security issue” much worse than the violence provoked by the “Satanic Verses” and Danish "cartoon riots."

Nomani reveals a bit about Prof. Spellberg's academic background. But the most revealing profile of her may be found at her own
at the University of Texas. Not surprisingly, she earned her PhD in Islamic Studies from Columbia University in New York City -- a place where radical leftists and advocates of the pro-Palestinian cause (including the late Prof. Edward Said), have for years gotten a warm welcome. Among her recent publications: "Inventing Matamoras: Gender and the Forgotten Islamic Past in the United States of America."

Spellberg, who apparently believes most outraged Christians behave as many outraged Muslims, recalled going to the “Last Temptation of Christ,” released in 1988. She was quoted as saying: "I walked through a metal detector to see 'Last Temptation of Christ.' I don't have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography."

That's funny. I went to “Last Temptation of Christ,” too. But there were no metal dictators at the theater in southwestern Connecticut where I saw the film. But I do recall standing in a long line on a chilly and drizzly evening. Near the theater door, movie-goers walked past a polite and gentle Baptist minister. He was obviously outraged by the film. Yet he wished me and other movie-goers well. He handed me some literature that he said I might want to read. As much as I disagreed with him, I could not help but respect him. He had quiet dignity. There was no anger in his voice or demeanor.

Accordingly, I have to wonder about Prof. Spellberg's account of seeing the film. Her remarks about her movie-going experience are no doubt as suspect as her alamist remarks about “The Jewel of Medina." And they're obviously filtered through a radical leftist political view in the spirit of Edward Said. Now that Iraq is becoming increasingly calm, perhaps Prof. Spellberg and Random House's editors should visit Iraq and talk with ordinary Iraqis. If they learn nothing from the courage and convictions of those Iraqis, perhaps they will at least become aware of their own perfidy and cowardice -- and feel shamed.

Then again, maybe they'll see only want they want to see.

This article also was published by The American Thinker and FrontPage Magazine. For those articles and readers comments, click here and here, respectively.

A Kidnapping and Execution Highlight the 'Mexicanization' of Texas


That Mexico's violence and dysfunction is increasingly becoming part of America's social fabric was highlighted by two recent events in Texas -- a kidnapping in Austin, and an execution in the state's death chamber.

Kidnappings-for-profit are common in Mexico and Latin America. Now, they're becoming more popular in Texas, too -- as was underscored by the recent kidnapping in Austin of two Hispanic men by at least two other Hispanic men. It's unclear when authorities first took note of the upsurge in Latin-style kidnappings in Texas. But presumably, the trend started a few years ago after "Anglo" Texans fell into a category that politically correct journalists call the "majority minority."

Regarding Austin's recent kidnapping, FBI agent Charlie Rasner observed: "These things happen more frequently towards the border instead of this far North, but we have seen more recently, there's no doubt about it."

Rasner said he's "not sure why the numbers are on the rise." But a commander with the Austin Police Department, Julie O'Brien, said the kidnappers in Austin had one motive:
"The goal was to bleed the family of every penny they could get, and then either set the victims free or kill them."

That, of course, is the way its done in Mexico and other dysfunctional parts of Latin America.

So, were the kidnappers and their victims here illegally or born here to parents who'd immigrated illegally? It's hard to know. Local media tend to feel immigration status is irrelevant in many stories about Austin -- an open-borders sanctuary city.

In the state's death chamber, meanwhile, Mexico-born Jose Ernesto Medellin, 33, was recently put to death by lethal injection. He'd arrived in America as a toddler. But when he was 18, he and five fellow gang members raped, beat, and strangled to death Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14. Later, Medellin boasted to his buddies about the rapes and killings.

Mexico, as it usually does in such cases, mobilized its resources to stop the execution. Its diplomats and lawyer complained that Texas law enforcement authorities had failed to inform Medellin of his right to seek help from the Mexican Consulate. Outraged over their countryman's mistreatment, Mexican officials took the case to the The International Court of Justice in The Hague, and to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But ultimately, Texas got its way. Moments before being put to death, Medellin said: "I'm sorry my actions caused you pain. I hope this brings you the closure that you seek. Never harbor hate."

For the World Court, this is not a happy day. It had ordered Texas not to executive any of five Mexican-born men on death row, including Medellin, while their cases were being reviewed. But a spokesman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, observed that the court -- a branch of the United Nations -- "has no standing in Texas."

The "Mexicanization" of Texas has upset ordinary Texans of "Anglo" background as well as native Texans of Mexican heritage.

One lesson can be drawn from all this. There would be no need for a border fence if Mexico spent as much time defending the rights of its convicted killers as it did in preventing (rather than encouraging) an ongoing exodus of high school dropouts and others in its lowest social classes from immigrating illegally to America.

This was originally published at The American Thinker. Go there to see reader comments and an update for this post.

August 6, 2008

The NYT's selective


At an upmarket newspaper like the Time York Times, no self-respecting editor would ever consider publishing grisly close-up photos showing victims of horrific car wrecks and violent crimes. Yet that's exactly what it ought to being doing -- at least if you follow the logic put forth by Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt in his Sunday column, "The Painful Images of War." It touches upon the case of former embedded photojournalist Zoriah Miller, the subject of a recent American Thinker article, "The Case of Expelled Embed." In his column, Hoyt reflectively notes,

TWO hundred twenty-one American soldiers and Marines have been killed in Iraq this year, but until eight days ago, The Times had not published a photo of one of their bodies.
The picture The Times did publish on July 26, of a room full of death after a suicide bombing in June, with a marine in the foreground, his face covered and his uniform riddled with tiny shrapnel holes, accompanied a front-page article about how few such images there are.

The photos to which Hoyt refers were originally published by Miller in his blog, which is full of anti-war and anti-Western rhetoric, as the American Thinker noted - but that Hoyt failed to mention. His column had other problems, too, and that was curious.

Hoyt has, in the past, proven himself to be intellectually honest and insightful when taking the Times to task for some of its notable journalistic misdeeds and foolishness. But, curiously, he seems unable to make up his mind on whether the Times acted prudently when publishing Miller's grisly up-close photos of dead U.S. Marines in a story last month, "4,000 U.S. Deaths, and Just a Handful of Public Images."

What to do when you can't make up your mind? Hoyt left the intellectual heavy lifting to Executive Editor Bill Keller, whom he quotes as saying:

"Death and carnage are not the whole story of war -- there is also heroism and frustration, success and setback, camaraderie and, on occasion, atrocity -- but death and carnage are part of the story, and to launder them out of our account of the war would be a disservice.''
Before arriving at this conclusion, Hoyt cited some examples of some controversial Iraq battlefield photos that are, indeed, tough calls in respect to whether they should have been published or not. But his apparent reluctance to criticize the Times for publishing Miller's photos -- photos that had only been published only in the photojournalist's blog -- underscores that the Times has an obvious double standard, one that Hoyt is unable to grasp or admit.

One one hand, the Times would never publish grisly up-close photos of traffic accidents and crime scenes -- even though both claim tens of thousands of victims annually. Presumably, the Times withholds such images because, quite simply, it's a matter of good taste not to publish them. Not to mention a matter of respect for the feelings of the victims' families. And yet in an obvious double standard, both Hoyt and Killer weigh in with Zoriah Miller in respect to publishing grisly photos of dead U.S. soldiers -- all to supposedly illustrate all the aspects of the Iraq war that (it's hardly coincidental) the Times just happens to oppose.

The journalistic inconsistency of this argument reminds me of how the Times covered the slayings of two mobsters in Manhattan. In 1985, gunman for mobster John Gotti murdered the head of the Gambino crime family, Paul Castellano, and a fellow mobster. They two were gunned down outside Sparks Steak House as they were going in for dinner.

At the time, I was a journalist in southwestern Connecticut, and I remember commenting with fellow journalists about the giddy coverage of the slayings in the New York papers. One of the tabloids (the Daily News or New York Post) had a banner headline: "RUBOUT!" And the other had a variation of that: "BIG RUBOUT!" Both had photos of the dead mobsters lying on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. They weren't, as I recall, quite as graphic as this, but you get the idea.

The Times, on the other hand, had something similar to this -- a subdued photo of one of the mobsters, draped in a sheet, being wheeled into an ambulance.

Did the Times photographer arrive late at the scene? It's hardly likely. The Times editors picked the photo they did out of a matter of good taste. Publishing grisly photos of dead mobsters is just not the kind of thing Ivy League editors (the types who often tend to work at the Times) would do -- and it's not the kind of thing sophisticated Times readers wanted to see over their breakfast, either. Yet when it comes to dead soldiers in Iraq, the Times has a different standard: Publishing such photos is the right thing to do.

While weighing in with Zoriah Miller, Hoyt quotes Gail Buckland, an author and professor of photo history at Cooper Union in New York, to support his points. According to Hoyt, Buckland

...tells students that because of the lack of a comprehensive photographic record of the war in Iraq, they are ''more impoverished today than Americans were in the 19th century,'' when battlefield photographs by Timothy O'Sullivan and others documented the Civil War. ''The greatest dishonor you can do is to forget,'' she told me. ''Photographs are monuments.''

Yet that's not quite correct. Mathew Brady's great Civil War photos were not reproduced during the war in American's newspapers, days after a battle. He displayed them in his studio.

Hoyt, in his column, overlooks certain aspects of Zoriah Miller's expulsion, as well. He failed to note that Marine Gen. John F. Kelly had asked the freelance photojournalist to remove the photos from his blog -- and that Miller had refused. And nor did Hoyt note that Gen. Kelly was outraged over Miller's detailed written account of the aftermath of a suicide bombing. That account, he stated, had provided the enemy with a valuable after-action report; the bombing was blamed on Al-Qaida.

That the Times shows more respect for two dead mobsters than it does for dead Marines says much about the paper's agenda-driven worldview.

This was originally published by The American Thinker, where readers comments may be found regarding this post.

August 1, 2008

U.S. Military detains Reuters “Haditha” reporter for security concerns


Western media outlets have reported on the Iraq war by relying heavily on Iraqis -- young men quickly trained to be photojournalists and reporters. Yet their motives and loyalties have not always been beyond repute. Yesterday, this was evident once again as Reuters reported on the arrest of one of its own last Saturday.

U.S. military forces detained Reuters photographer Ali al-Mashhadani due to “security concerns." He was handcuffed and led away by U.S. military forces in Baghdad's Green Zone, while he visited a government facility to obtain a U.S. military press card, Reuters reported. Twice before, U.S. military forces had detained al-Mashhadani, also due to security concerns; he was reporting at the time from Sunni-dominated Anbar Provence. Besides Reuters, al-Mashhadani has worked for BBC and Washington-based National Public Radio.

Two years ago, al-Mashhadani's journalism career got a boost when he fanned the flames of the now-debunked “Haditha massacre.” In his report for Reuters on March 21, 2006, he described a “rampage by U.S. soldiers that left a trail of bullet-riddled bodies and destruction.”

In Thursday's story, Reuters rushed to al-Mashhadani's defense It echoed the line used by the Associated Press when one of its photographers was detained for security concerns. Reuters declared that military authorities should “immediately release” al-Mashhadani -- or “publicly produce evidence to justify his detention.” However, U.S. military authorities are unlikely to release such evidence. After all, it was probably obtained through intelligence gathering that included informants and other methods; both would be compromised if Reuters had its way.

During the Vietnam War, reporting like al-Mashhadani's presented a distorted imagine of the war, helping to turn Americans against it. This has yet to happen in Iraq to the extent it did in Vietnam. Now, the blogosphere is serving as a counter-weight to the mainstream's often problematic reporting. The blog Sweetness & Light, for instance, has been onto al-Mashhadani for some time.

Like other Iraqi stringers and freelancers whom bloggers have sharply criticized, al-Mashhadani has a curious talent -- he moves unimpeded among Iraq's insurgents and Al-Qaida terrorists. This brought him to the attention of military authorities in August, 2005. During a search of his home in Ramadi, Anbar Provence's capital, troops found photos of insurgent activity in his camera. He was released after some five months. Not long after that, he shocked the world with his report of the Haditha massacre, a coincidence of timing noted by Sweetness & Light. A few months later, military forces detained him a second time for two weeks.

The AP has had problems with some of its Iraqi employees, too. AP photographer Bilal Hussein was held by U.S. military forces for two years. Last February, he was released as part of a U.S.-backed amnesty law aimed at national reconciliation. A former Fallujah shopkeeper who sold cell phones, Hussein was hired by the AP because he knew the area. One of his photos was part of a package of 20 AP photos that won a Pulitzer Prize; it showed four insurgents firing a mortar and small arms during an offensive by U.S.-led forces in November, 2004.

For the rest of the article, visit The American Thinker.