10:20 PM EST: Strikes were “decapitation strike,” huge explosions in B’dad now CNN reporting. Was Saddam hit? Don’t know yet.
10:15 PM EST: Bush speaks: “On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets…. these are opening stages. …. more than 35 countries. … I want americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare civilians from harm. … We have no ambition in iraq except to remove a threat and restore the country to its own people. Our forces will be coming home as soon as the can. … the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. … we will accept no outcome but victory. … ”
9:57 PM EST: CNN reporting more flashes over B’dad. No huge explosions yet. PS: I’m not in danger. Not in Iraq yet. But thanks for the well-wishes.
9:55 PM EST: CNN reporters with U.S. troops are still in holding pattern. Not yet en route.
9:23 PM EST: Stratfor reports that Pentagon sources say that the strike involving F-117 fighters was aimed at a site where Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders were believed to have been staying.
Still peaceful for the moment in Baghdad. CNN video footage is quiet. Dawn over Baghdad. Cruise missile strike in Baghdad. “Target of opportunity,” CNN says. Sounds like it’s before the planned attack, apparently. Important target. Saddam?
CNN is reporting that Baghdad air defense forces are firing into the air, but there are yet no bombs dropping yet. It’s almost dawn in Baghdad. CNN says this is *not* the beginnig of the war. No one seems to know what’s happening right now, least of all the Iraqis. Might be a softening up, might be panicky Iraqis, we really don’t know yet.
As yet, no reports of airplanes. —
UPDATEL 9:46 PM EST Ari Fleischer is entering the WH Press Room
“the opening stages of the disarmament of the iraqi regime has begun.” The president will have a statement at 10:15 pm EST.
Stratfor and BBC now reporting that B-52s still on ground at RAF Fairford as of 4:33 p.m. EST.
Well, Stratfor is now reporting that the B-52s are still in RAF Fairford as of 2133 GMT (4:33 p.m.) Highly ironic considering they crowed about staying out of the “Tariq Aziz is Dead” rumor fray. As the company reported:
As Stratfor tried to verify or discredit the rumors through its own sources, some of our readers took the opportunity to criticize us for falling behind various Internet rumor mills. We’ve received similar criticisms for missing the multiple reports of the arrest, death or immaculate transfiguration of Osama bin Laden. Though we contemplated responding with varying degrees of crassness or seriousness, depending on the tone of the comments, events have demonstrated the validity of our approach to analyzing this and other conflicts.
Stratfor takes nothing at face value. We are now swimming in a sea of rumors, propaganda and the fog of war. Stratfor has always set as its goal sifting the elements of truth from this mess. We hope to continue serving as your steady and unbiased source of analysis on the conflict in Iraq.
None of this absolves me, of course. Fogs of war and rumor mills are confusing. At thet moment, it’s very hard to know what’s going on. But as an old Associated Press reporter, I can say this: Sometimes this is how news works. Stratfor and the Evening Mail were reporting the B-52s were en route. Now it seems they’re not… Perhaps we’ll get a better glimpse of what’s happening around 8 p.m. or so.
Stratfor is reporting thath At 1808 GMT (1:08 p.m. EST, 9:08 p.m. Baghdad) B-52 bombers were reported taking off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom. Flying time to Iraq is about six hours.
At 1808 GMT (1:08 p.m. EST, 9:08 p.m. Baghdad) B-52 bombers were reported taking off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom. Flying time to Iraq is about six hours. Earlier today, they were reportedly loaded with cruise missiles. The British press has also reported that skirmishing has commenced between Iraqi troops and U.S. and British special operations forces near Basra. Coalition aircraft also have attacked 10 Iraqi artillery pieces in the southern no-fly zone, and Israelis have been ordered to open and fit their gas masks, keeping them nearby at all times.
*If* this is true, that would put the bomber in range at 7 p.m. or so EST, one hour prior to the deadline. Cruise for an hour and drop. If I can inject a wry comment at this time, President Bush _is_ known for keeping things punctual.
Whew. Well, more bandwidth has been procured, thankfully. We can now handle 2 MB/sec instead of the 1 MB/sec that we previously. We were originally burstable to 100 MB/sec, but B2I were getting so much traffic someone at the hosting facility turned it off and put a hard quota on — without telling anyone. Grr.
Anyway, I hope it’s fixed now. It certainly seems faster on my end of the pipe. Sorry for the trouble everyone.
More Aziz. He’s not dead nor defected, it looks like.
*UPDATE on Aziz:* CNN and other media are reporting that Aziz has held a press conference saying he has *not* defected. And if he’s holding press conference, it’s doubtful he’s dead.
I toyed with the idea of a headline reading, “U.S. government invades Back to Iraq; Defenders Rally, Beat Back Yankee Devils!” but then I realized it wasn’t that funny.
My server is absolutely swamped. I don’t know if it’s a Denial of Service attack (my favorite paranoid fantasy) or just a problem with the number of people visiting and the traffic is too much to handle. Monday, we saw 14,000+ unique visitors and we moved almost
4 GB 40 GB (!!) of traffic yesterday. While this is a problem, this is a _good_ problem.
However, I can’t get into the site. On my end, it didn’t look like the Tariq Aziz entry went up. I’m glad that it did and _some_ people can get onto he site.
I’m really hoping we can get this resolved today, and I’m really, really sorry to people who are having trouble with the site. We’re working on the problem and hopefully we will have some answers soon.