Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Attack Drives U.S. Forces From Baghdad HQ: "The U.S. occupation authority retreated from its headquarters after Iraqi insurgents attacked the heavily guarded hotel with a missile barrage that killed an American colonel, wounded 18 people and sent the visiting U.S. deputy defense secretary scurrying for safety. The bold blow at the heart of the U.S. presence here clearly rattled U.S. confidence that it is defeating Iraq's shadowy insurgents. Paul Wolfowitz, the shaken-looking but unhurt Pentagon deputy, said the strike Sunday against the Al Rasheed Hotel, from nearly point-blank range, ``will not deter us from completing our mission'' in Iraq... The effect of the 6:10 a.m. volley of rockets was dramatic: U.S. officials and officers fled from the Al Rasheed, some still in pajamas or shorts to a nearby convention center."

Or, in the Washington Post headline of the story, "Baghdad Attack Counters Wolfowitz's Upbeat Message", a classic of understatement, as Billmon says: "The perpetrators of Saturday's attack -- whoever they are -- just pulled off an incredibly clever and audacious operation in the heart of the supposedly secure Green Zone, came within an ace of nailing a Deputy Defense Secretary, and chased a whole bunch of American VIPs out into the street in their f***** underwear."

Meanwhile, "the leader of [Lebanon's] 's Druze community, Walid Jumblatt, described the Deputy Defence Secretary as a "virus" who needed to be destroyed, after Wolfowitz emerged unscathed from a guerilla rocket attack on the fortified Baghdad hotel where he was staying on Sunday. Mr Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, said he hoped Mr Wolfowitz, whom he criticised as an architect of the US-led war on Iraq and a friend of Israel, would not survive any future attack.

"We hope that next time the rockets will be more accurate and effective in getting rid of this virus, and his like, who wreak corruption in the Arab land of Iraq and in Palestine," Mr Jumblatt said. The US embassy issued a statement condemning the remarks as "outrageous and completely unacceptable" and urged the Lebanese Government to do the same."

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