Entries in Iraq (26)


Fmr President Bush Hosts 100km Bike Ride with Wounded Veterans

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images(BIG BEND, Texas) -- Next week in Texas, former President George W. Bush will host a 100-kilometer bike ride with 14 U.S. servicemen and women who were seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dubbed the “Warrior 100K,” the race will take place in Big Bend, TX from April 25-27.

“I’ll be riding across the deserts of Texas with wounded warriors to show the unbelievable character of our men and women in uniform,” President Bush said in a statement. “It’s a 100-kilometer ride in the desert, and it’s not a leisurely ride; it’s a ride to herald people who were dealt a severe blow and said, ‘I’m not going to let it tear me down.’”

Bush is an avid mountain bike rider who put his Secret Service detail through some grueling workouts during his White House years and rode on his Texas ranch with cycling star Lance Armstrong. The former president took up mountain biking after running proved to be too tough on his knees. Described by some who have ridden with him as “aggressive” and at times “reckless,” Bush had a few biking accidents that left him with scrapes and bruises, including a fall in 2004 during a ride on his Texas ranch and a collision during a 2005 ride in Scotland that sent a Scottish police officer to the hospital.

Organizations like Challenged Athletes Foundation, Ride 2 Recovery, World T.E.A.M. Sports and the Wounded Warrior Project will be represented on the Warrior 100K ride, which is the inaugural event for the Social Enterprise initiative of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Protests Held Across US on Eight-Year Iraq War Anniversary

US Army/Spc. Jessica Rohr(WASHINGTON) -- There were small protests throughout the U.S. Saturday to mark the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Ironically, the demonstrations came on the same day that Western powers started an assault to establish a no-fly zone over Libya, the largest international military action since the Iraq war began on March 19, 2003.

Unlike Iraq protests that featured tens of thousands of marchers in some U.S. urban centers eight years ago, only a few hundred people at most turned up at gatherings in cities that included New York, Washington, D.C, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In the nation's capital, Daniel Ellsberg, who gained notoriety during the Vietnam War for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971, was arrested outside the White House along with about 100 other protesters.

There was also a demonstration against the Iraq war in Hollywood attended by students from over 40 high schools and community colleges, while in San Francisco, police said that a few hundred people marched peacefully from United Nations Plaza to Union Square.

Meanwhile, a small rally in New York's Time Square quickly turned from an Iraq war protest to calls for an end to the bombing of Libyan targets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FBI Directors Warns of Al Qaeda Operatives in US

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director Robert Mueller issued a new warning Thursday about the threat of terror in the country, saying that dozens of sleeper agents -- al Qaeda operatives from Iraq -- may be living in the U.S.

Speaking before a House intelligence committee, Mueller said, "we are closely monitoring threats from al Qaeda in Iraq.  Individuals who may have been resettled here in the United States that have had some association with al Qaeda in Iraq."

On Wednesday, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, also raised concerns about the same emerging threat.

"We are concerned that al Qaeda in Iraq remains committed to conducting external operations, to include the U.S. Homeland," said Leiter.

A senior law enforcement official told ABC News that intelligence developed in Iraq and a study of travel patterns from that country points to "dozens" of persons of interest in the United States.  An intelligence source said investigations and surveillance of some individuals are now underway. 

Mueller's concerns came a day after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned that this may be the most dangerous time since 9/11.

"In some ways, the threat today may be at its most heightened state since the attacks nearly 10 years ago," Napolitano said Wednesday.

Authorities point to threats from homegrown radicals fueled by the Internet and threats from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Donald Rumsfeld Reveals Saddam Hussein Targeted His Daughters

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld described what he called an “awkward” moment in a 2003 national security meeting when he was told that Saddam Hussein was offering a $60 million bounty to kill Rumsfeld’s daughters.

“I was concerned,” Rumsfeld told ABC News on Tuesday. “Of course the president and his family had secret service protection. My family did not. And it was a somewhat awkward moment in the meeting,” he said.

The plot also targeted President George W. Bush’s two daughters, Rumsfeld said, and Bush urged him to take it seriously because the administration had killed Hussein’s sons.

“I made a comment like ‘Thank you’ or something and President Bush looked me in the eye and said ‘You better take this seriously,” he said. “And of course I did take it seriously. But I was also realistic that there was not much one could do about that.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mothers: No Justice for Our Sons Slaughtered in Iraq

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Nearly seven years after images of four American civilians murdered and mutilated in Fallujah were broadcast around the world, their families say justice for the victims has been denied and has instead favored the controversial private security firm for which they worked as military security contractors, Blackwater.

Following years of legal back and forths in a lawsuit by the families against Blackwater, which they maintained sent their sons undermanned and ill-equipped on a convoy into one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq on March 31, 2004, a federal judge has thrown out the suit because arbitration fees weren't being paid by either side. The families vowed to keep fighting, saying they will appeal.

"Somehow this lawsuit got away from my son being slaughtered and became about who's willing to pay to play," said Katy Helvenston-Wettengel, whose son Scott Helvenston, 38, was one of the Blackwater employees shot dead, set on fire, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and then hung from a bridge. Insurgents filmed the horrific attack, becoming some of the most brutal images from the Iraq war. "There's nothing even remotely close to justice here," she said.

The families said they couldn't afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in arbitration fees and U.S. District Judge James C. Fox, in the eastern district of North Carolina, closed the case, ruling the families couldn't proceed with their claims in North Carolina state court. The contractors' employment agreements required disputes to be resolved through arbitration.

Helvenston and other families of the victims said Blackwater cut corners protecting the men, failing to provide maps or radio contact with the U.S. military and sending them out on a dangerous mission in unarmored Mitsubishi SUVs instead of heavily armored vehicles.

Under its contract for the mission, there were also supposed to be six men in the detail, three for each car. But video taken by the attackers shortly after the men were killed showed Blackwater sent only two men for each car, leaving the rear gunner lookout post empty.

Blackwater, which changed its name to "Xe" in an effort to rebrand itself after numerous scandals, maintained the men were ambushed on their convoy and said they knew what they were getting into in Iraq.

In a statement to ABC News, Xe said, "The company continues to remember and honor its fallen professionals and shares in their families' grief for all of those tragically lost or wounded while defending democracy in Iraq. The company has no comment on this pending legal matter except to say that the dismissed claims were precluded by law under the Defense Base Act's workers' compensation system, and that the company continues to provide survivors' benefits to the families under that system." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Panel Recommends Allowing Women into Combat Roles

Image Courtesy - U.S. Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- On the heels of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't tell, a government panel that includes two dozen senior active-duty and retired military officers recommends another major change in U.S. military policy.

The panel, created by congress in 2009, is called the Military Leadership Diversity Commission and in a draft report it recommends allowing women into direct combat roles.  Women have been inching ever closer to that level of service for decades but because they have been prevented from serving at the direct ground combat level since the early 1990s, the panel finds their careers are sharply restricted.  They do not receive combat pay and find it much harder to achieve Flag/General officer status.

Among the factors the commission considered in its review was whether having women in combat roles alongside men would hamper unit effectiveness and morale.  The Huffington Post reports commission members reflected that the same arguments were made before the armed services were racially integrated decades ago and were proved untrue.

The panel's draft report says focus group members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan felt that women have had a positive effect on the missions there in spite of the restrictions on their service.  And they felt it important to make all the best talent available to the armed forces, regardless of gender.

The restrictions keeping women from serving at battalion level or below have not kept many from the line of fire.  Since 2001, 137 women have died in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The commission's final report comes out in March, at which point the Defense Department will review and consider its recommendations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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