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US Papers Fri: GI Held for Killings of Soldiers
Two die in shooting at Base: 7 Killed in copter crash: SOFA talks falling apart?
By DANIEL W. SMITH 09/19/2008 01:59 AM ET
Most news today is about the U.S. military, with the exception being the shaky status of a status of forces agreement. The reports which deal with the American military are all really full of feel-bad news, with soldiers being killed, some probably by one of their own, and further outcry over the denial of the Medal of Honor to one who died in 2004.

From Baghdad
There isn’t much information being released yet, but Stephen Farrell of the New York Times covers the U.S. military’s announcement that it is holding an American soldier in connection with the shooting deaths of two fellow soldiers on Sunday, at their patrol base near Iskandariya. The name of the one being held has not been released. “A U.S. soldier is in custody in connection with the shooting deaths,” a military spokesman said. “He is being held in custody pending review by a military magistrate. The incident continues under investigation.” The two who were killed were identified as Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, 26, of Hurst, Tex. All three soldiers were assigned to the Third Battalion, Seventh Infantry Regiment, Fourth Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Farrell also writes about the helicopter that crashed shortly after midnight on Thursday, 60 miles west of Basra. All seven soldiers on board were killed, while on a routine supply mission, according to American and British officials. Enemy activity is not suspected. It was the 69th helicopter to go down in Iraq in the war, US sources said. The names of the dead were being withheld, pending notification of next of kin.

The Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan also covers both topics, but gives the helicopter crash the headline and a few more details. The CH-47 Chinook is reported as being part of a four-helicopter convoy, flying from Kuwait to the northern city of Balad.

Stephen Lee Myers and Sam Dagher of the New York Times report that the SOFA agreement, needed to legally extend the American military mandate in Iraq beyond this year, supposedly near completion only a month ago, has stalled over objections by Iraqi leaders and could be in danger of falling apart, according to both Iraqi and Bush administration officials.
The major remaining point of contention involves immunity, with the United States maintaining that American troops and military contractors should have the same protections they have in other countries where they are based and Iraq insisting that they be subject to the country’s criminal justice system for any crime committed outside of a military operation, the officials said. In a television interview this week, Mr. Maliki cited the example of an Iraqi killed by an American soldier in a market, saying that a case like that should fall “to Iraqi courts immediately.” “This,” he said of the American position, “they reject.” The White House has expressed confidence that an agreement can be reached before the end of December, when the United Nations mandate authorizing American forces in Iraq expires. In a sign of urgency, though, the administration plans to send its chief negotiators back to Baghdad in the coming days to try to complete an agreement that officials had originally planned to finish in July.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, traveling in London, said that U.S. negotiators were stepping up their efforts to find common ground with their Iraqi counterparts, and will be “carrying with them some ideas that perhaps meet both the Iraqi and our concerns on some of the remaining issues.” Both sides seem committed to their key points.
Mr. Maliki also, for the first time, raised the possibility of seeking an extension to the United Nations mandate at the Security Council, saying that had become complicated because of American and Russian tensions over the conflict in Georgia. “Even if we ask for an extension, then we will ask for it according to our terms and we will attach conditions and the U.S. side will refuse,” he said in an interview on Wednesday with the directors of Iraqi satellite television channels. “U.S. forces would be without legal cover and will have no choice but to pull out from Iraq or stay and be in contravention of international law.”
Further Military Matters
The Washington Post’s Ann Scott Tyson writes about the decision by Robert Gates not to recommend Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. It was covered by Gregg Zoroya in yesterday’s USA Today, but Tyson has had time to get additional a bit more information and a few more quotes. The announcement stirred an outcry Wednesday, by his family and Marines who say he saved their lives. According to the secretary of the Navy, Peralta gave his life to save his comrades in Fallujah in 2004, grabbing a hostile grenade, pulling it to his body and absorbing the brunt of the blast. President Bush later praised Peralta as a hero. Instead of the Medal of Honor, he will be posthumously awarded the second-highest award for valor in combat, the Navy Cross.
Peralta's family members said they could not understand the decision, which was delivered to Peralta's mother, Rosa, by a Marine general on Tuesday. "She is really disappointed," Peralta's sister, Icela, said in a telephone interview from her home in San Diego. She said her mother has no plan to accept the Navy Cross from the military. "At this point, she doesn't want to receive that medal right now," she said. A Marine Corps spokesman said medical evidence was conflicting as to whether he was capable of grabbing the grenade given a head wound he had suffered moments earlier. Peralta, an immigrant from Mexico City who enlisted in the Marine Corps the day before receiving his green card, was serving with the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment during the U.S. military assault to retake Fallujah in November 2004.

Christopher Rhoads of the Wall Street Journal reports on the popularity of a new online video, featuring an Iraq war veteran criticizing Sen. Barack Obama’s stance on the war.

To date, Sen. Obama has dominated the race in the use of online video, both in viewership and production. Videos created by supporters of the Democratic presidential candidate, such as one entitled "Yes We Can," featuring Will.I.Am of the band Black Eyed Peas and directed by Bob Dylan's son, Jesse, have attracted millions of views. The new Republican video rivals those figures, attracting more than eight million views since it was launched on YouTube Aug. 27. That performance ranks it sixth overall among online videos during the past 30 days, according to The video, entitled "Dear Mr. Obama," features 23-year-old veteran Joe Cook describing his experience in Iraq and taking Sen. Obama to task for his stance on the war. The one minute, 55-second segment concludes with Mr. Cook walking away from the camera, revealing his prosthetic left leg, as Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" plays. Mr. Cook was injured this past June in Baghdad when his vehicle was hit by an explosive device, he said.
"This might be the Republicans' first real runaway hit," said Micah Sifry, executive editor of Personal Democracy Forum, a nonpartisan group studying technology in politics.

Washington Post op-ed columnist Charles Krauthammer pens a piece entitled “History Will Judge”, in which he lauds President Bush’s ability to stick to his guns, despite public opinion. Much credit is given as well, for protecting the United States against further terrorist attacks after Sept. 11, 2001, and speaks of how humble Mr. Bush was, when Krauthammer himself pointed this out to him.
What the president did note with some pride, however, is that beyond preventing a second attack, he is bequeathing to his successor the kinds of powers and institutions the next president will need to prevent further attack and successfully prosecute the long war. And indeed, he does leave behind a Department of Homeland Security, reorganized intelligence services with newly developed capacities to share information and a revised FISA regime that grants broader and modernized wiretapping authority. In this respect, Bush is much like Truman, who developed the sinews of war for a new era (the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA), expanded the powers of the presidency, established a new doctrine for active intervention abroad, and ultimately engaged in a war (Korea) -- also absent an attack on the United States -- that proved highly unpopular. So unpopular that Truman left office disparaged and highly out of favor. History has revised that verdict. I have little doubt that Bush will be the subject of a similar reconsideration.
Let's all meet here in 40 years, to see if he's right.

Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, no Iraq coverage.


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