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Mess hall attack was suicide bomber

Well, this is the news the Pentagon didn’t want to deliver. Spinning it just isn’t working anymore, as places keep blowing up (see end of story). They just don’t know how to fight this insurgency, and don’t want to admit it. (AP):

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that from investigations into Tuesday’s blast in a mess tent on the base, “it looks like it was an improvised explosive device worn by an attacker.”

The explosive was apparently packed with pellets the size of BBs that ripped across the tent when it exploded, Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of Task Force Olympia — the main U.S. force in nothern Iraq — told Bill Nemitz, a columnist with the Portland (Maine) Press Herald who was embedded with the troops at Marez.

At a Pentagon press conference, Myers defended Ham over security measures at the base. “We know how difficult this is, to prevent people bent on suicide and stopping them,” Myer said. “I think he has a very good plan for force protection. This is an insurgency.”

“As we know someone who’s attacking can attack at anytime using any technique,” Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said, speaking alongside Myers. U.S. personnel “have to be right 100 percent of the time. An attacker only has to be right some of the time.”

The military was looking at better ways of protecting places where U.S. troops regularly gather on their bases, such as dining areas and gyms, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, told CNN. Such areas are frequently targeted by mortars, though usually with little accuracy, and Nemitz told CNN that he heard “a lot of discussion” among troops about the vulnerability of the tent.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, several loud blasts were heard downtown Wednesday evening but the cause was not immediately clear. Insurgents have frequently used mortars, rockets and car bombs to attack police stations, military bases as well as the Green Zone that houses the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi government offices.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding