U.S. air raid kills Iraqi family-officials

BAIJI, Iraq, Jan 3 (Reuters) – A U.S. air strike killed several members of a family in the oil refining town of Baiji in northern Iraq, Iraqi security forces said on Tuesday.
    The U.S. military, responding to an inquiry, said aircraft had targeted a house after three men suspected of planting a roadside bomb were seen entering the building late on Monday.

    The military statement made no mention of casualties and said Iraqi police had handled the scene after the attack.

    Local people at the scene of the blast said seven bodies were recovered from the rubble, including at least two children.

    A police official in the regional capital Tikrit said six people were killed and three wounded, although an official at the Joint Coordination Centre, which liaises between U.S. and Iraqi forces in Salahaddin province, said 14 died.

    Officials named the householder as Ghadhban Nahi Hussein.

    A statement from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division in response to an inquiry about the deaths said soldiers monitoring video footage from a reconnaissance drone spotted three men apparently digging a hole around 9 p.m. (1800 GMT) “following the common pattern of roadside bomb emplacement”.

    Bomber pilots were alerted, the military statement said: “The individuals left the road site and were followed from the air to a nearby building. Coalition forces employed precision guided munitions on the structure.”

    The statement did not say whether a roadside bomb was found.

    Baiji has seen considerable rebel attacks, including efforts by insurgents to disrupt oil and fuel flows through its refinery, the biggest in Iraq. The closure of the refinery last month has caused serious shortages in fuel across the country, although the plant reopened again late on Monday.

    U.S. forces have used air power increasingly throughout the past year. Official military data show only one strike was carried out in March and the average in the first quarter was five strikes per month compared to over 50 in the last quarter.

    Iraqi medical staff, police and political leaders, particularly in the restive, Sunni Arab-dominated west and north, have reported civilian casualties in such raids; U.S. commanders say they make every effort to minimise that risk.

    (Additional reporting by Aref Mohammed in Kirkuk, Ghaswan al-Jibouri in Tikrit and Aseel Kami, Alastair Macdonald, Gideon Long and Hiba Moussa in Baghdad)

After reading the above and another article on the subject that stated women and children were among the dead, this thought occurred to me:

99% of the people reading the article in this country could care less.

And, although this sounds crude and inhumane, that has electoral ramifications for the Democratic Party.

I am not trying to parade around adorned by some moral mantle (I certainly have my vices and enjoy some of them quite a bit!) but what and how many of us feel about the taking of innocent lives during the horror of this war, lives on all sides of the conflict, is not a feeling shared by any vast percentage of voters in the United States. Certainly not the voters that the Democratic Party needs to woo or to get to return to the fold in order to succeed in many states.

Yes, people are trying to stay afloat economically and have families to raise, plus time and attention are shrinking commodities, but there is simply something inherent in most people that limits concern outside of one’s own clan. Clan being immediate family in most cases but up to and including fellow United Staters.

Look at the on-going news media coverage about the tragic deaths of the miners in West Virginia. In a sense, it’s six-of-one, half-a-dozen-of-the-other but compare it to the non-coverage about civilian deaths in Iraq.

I ask this question: what percentage of individuals in this country will turn or have turned against President Bush primarily based upon the thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens who have been killed, by all parties, since the war’s inception? Without the ability to quantify it, my sense is it is miniscule. Any substantial shift in allegiance is primarily based upon the number of U.S. military casualties.

Such people can obviously be found throughout this country but, re-connecting to my thesis about elections and the Democratic Party, it is the citizens in West Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona (I’m sure I’m missing a few states here) who need wooing back to or just to the blue and yet for any of us to lament about and publicize situations that involve foreign ‘collateral damage’ is exactly what will either have either zero effect or possibly even turn these individuals off and away from ever being rank-and-file Democrats.

So, do we minimize or eliminate our mourning? Should we expect the politicians we support to do the same? This seems immoral. Just what is the answer?  

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