Morning Report: May 13, 2005

Rumsfeld to name bases listed for closing. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will announce on Friday the names of US military bases marked for closure, according to news reports. CNN reports: 'Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is scheduled Friday to unveil the Pentagon's list of recommended military base closures -- moves that he says will save the U.S. military nearly $50 billion over two decades. The defense secretary will present the recommended list of installations to be closed to lawmakers and the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Rumsfeld kept a tight lid Thursday on details of the much-anticipated list but said it would contain fewer names than expected since additional space will be needed to house U.S. troops now deployed overseas. "Nonetheless, the changes that will occur will affect a number of communities, communities that have warmly embraced nearby military installations for a good many years -- indeed, in some cases, decades," he said.' (CNN)

Debka: Embassy guard thwarts terror attempt in Tashkent. According to a current bulletin at Debka: 'Israeli embassy security guard in Tashkent shot dead a suicide bomber on way to attack building Friday morning. Bomb was strapped to his body. Some authorities claim bomb belt was a dud.' (Debka)

Wretchard on Operation Matador. Analysis of Operation Matador, the US counterinsurgency campaign in eastern Iraq on the Syrian border, is currently posted at The Belmont Club. Thursday's first post notes: 'The enemy delivered mortar fire as the assault began on Sunday and delivered a night-time combined arms counterattack on Monday and made various attempts to escape by boat or vehicle on Tuesday. The list of incidents and chronology belie the assertion that the enemy was gone before the Marines arrived.' In the day's second post, citing reports from a Syrian border town, Wretchard adds: 'The Syrian townsfolk report US heavy weapons use (fixed wing, helicopter gunships and probably artillery) and return fire. This type of fire is significant, because heavy weapons are typically used against entrenched enemy fighters. Fixed-wing ordnance is often used to attack positions that cannot be harmed by helicopter missiles because the targets are too strongly built. The fact that many fires are delivered by night is also suggestive, because it recalls Marine tactics in Fallujah, when US forces exploited their superior night vision and surveillance capabilities to maneuver while the enemy was blinded. That in turn implies that the level of enemy resistance is such that individual positions have to be reduced by maneuver and destruction. Reports of return fire from enemy fighters imply they have prepared positions or ammunition caches because it is hard to keep shooting if they only started out with the ammunition in their personal bandoliers.' Full details at the links. (Belmont Club)

Senate Pasqua/Galloway report: MeK also involved. Sharp-eyed commenter Rasker, a frequent poster at Free Iran News, presents an important detail of the Senate's report on the Oil-for-Food corruption report (which also accused Britain's George Galloway and France's Charles Pasqua of involvement) at this thread: 'The report diplomatically buries one of its most interesting revelations in footnote 5. According to footnote 5, "Terrorist individuals and entities who received [OFF] allocations include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Abu Abbas and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq". It will be interesting to see if Thursday's news stories pick up this particular item on the friends of Saddam Hussein.' The Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), or People's Mujahedeen, are an Iranian opposition group whose possible role in any action against the IRI regime remains highly controversial among freedom activists. (Free Iran)

Carpool regulations strictly enforced. Every road in Tikrit is a high-occupancy vehicle lane these days, Iraq the Model reports: 'In an attempt to protect their city from suicide car bombers, the local authorities in Tikrit set an emergency rule for driving on the streets; the new rule says that "no drivers will be allowed to drive their vehicles alone, i.e. every vehicle has to carry at least two people to be allowed to move on the streets". Source, Al-Sabah. The local police said that they will shoot at any vehicle that violates this rule ...' (ITM)

Federal judge strikes down anti-gay Nebraska measure. 'A federal judge on Thursday struck down Nebraska's anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, which also banned recognition of gay domestic partnerships and civil unions', the Washington Blade reports. Morning Report notes that unlike other state measures aimed simply at defining marriage as a heterosexual institution, the Nebraska amendment would have gone much further: according to the Blade, 'The amendment, Section 29 of the Nebraska constitution, was passed in November 2000. The law went far beyond restricting the right to marry to heterosexual couples. The law explicitly barred any legal recognition of a same-sex couple in a "civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship."' (Washington Blade)