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DERRICK Z. JACKSON

Bush's blind leadership

IN NEED OF blind obedience as he stays the course in Iraq, President Bush went to the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., on Monday. Rows of military officers, with not a hint of dissent, clapped like choir boys as Bush said, "The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than have any live in freedom."

This is the same Bush who chose to see between 4,000 and 11,000 Iraqi civilians die, according to human rights groups, in an invasion and occupation based on nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Bush said he will stay the course for an Iraq that "protects basic rights," even as a stream of photos exposing prison camp abuse by American soldiers is released.

Bush said, "A free Iraq will always have a friend in the United States of America." At the rate we are going, it will be any wonder if we will have any friends left in Iraq by the time it is "free." Last week, 40 people died in a US military airstrike on a house. The White House said that it was a safe house for terrorists. Residents who lived nearby said it was the site of a wedding party.

A Reuters story from the site of the airstrike said, "Standing over 3-year-old Kholoud al-Mohammed, who held a cookie in her hand and cried, Mamdouh Harajee listed off the names of the dead from a complex web of relatives who attended.

" 'She lost her mother and father. Another family of eight lost six members. Another family lost four,' he said as he looked down on the bandaged child. `It was just a wedding.' "

The top American military spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, said: "There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration. There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too."

But the Associated Press obtained a videotape it said was shot by the wedding cameraman, who was killed in the attack. The videotape, according to the AP, showed "fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans, and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations, scattered about the bombed out tent." The AP story said the tape captured the travel of "a dozen white pickup trucks speeding through the desert escorting the bridal car -- decorated with colorful ribbons. The bride wears a Western-style white bridal dress and veil."

On Monday, Kimmitt showed the press slides that he said indicated large amounts of illegal drugs, weapons, and materials to make bombs. "The activities that we saw happening on the ground were somewhat inconsistent with a wedding party," Kimmitt said. Furthermore, Kimmitt claimed, "we have no evidence of any children being killed on the ground."   Continued...

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