Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The death toll in Iraq is now 4001 as one more U.S. soldier was killed Tuesday in Iraq.

We have a list of the names and hometowns of the last five U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

Here they are:

U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:

DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Mar 25, 2008

03/25/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by hostile fire
Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed by a hostile fire attack at approximately 5 p.m. March 25 while conducting combat operations. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin...

03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 3)
Sgt. Thomas C. Ray, II, 40, of Weaverville, N.C...died March 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army...

03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 3)
Spc. David S. Stelmat, 27, of Littleton, N.H...died March 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army...

03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 3)
Sgt. David B. Williams, 26, of Tarboro, N.C...died March 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army...

03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pvt. Tyler J. Smith, 22, of Bethel, Maine, died Mar. 21 at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when the base received indirect fire. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team...


The White House press secretary, Dana Perino, tried the ultimate spin on Tuesday when she said all the violence eruputing across Iraq just provides work for the Iraqi secuirity forces.

Perino Spins Renewed Violence In Iraq: ‘The Surge Created New Opportunities’ For Iraqi Security Forces

Filed Under:
By Ben at 6:14 pm


(click on link to watch and hear Perino at White House press conference)

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched a major combat operation in the southern city of Basra today against the Mahdi Army — which is led by anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr – and other Shiite militias.

Violence also erupted in three other Iraqi cities, including Baghdad where “[b]arrages of mortars and rockets pounded the fortified Green Zone area for the second time in three days” and rival Shiite militias exchanged gunfire in Sadr City, a Mahdi Army stronghold.

But during today’s White House press breifing, press secretary Dana Perino tried to spin the recent hostilites in Iraq as a positive development for the “surge,” saying that having the ISF conduct military operations is “what critics have wanted to see”:

PERINO: This is an Iraqi led and Iraqi initiated operation. And this is what we’ve been wanting to see the Iraqis do is take on more responsibility. […]

The surge created new opportunities and in fact created many more Iraqi Security Forces. […]
So I would characterize it as a bold decision — precisely what the critics have asked to see in Iraq, more movement by the Iraqi Security Forces.

But according to reports, the current wave of violence is endangering a recently renewed ceasefire al-Sadr declared last August – which has been widely credited with helping to reduce violence throughout Iraq. Yesterday, al-Sadr called for a nationwide civil disobedience campaign “in response to what his followers say is an unwarranted crackdown” by the Iraqi government.

Yet one Iraqi Member of Parliament and al-Sadr supporter said if the ISF “keep targeting us like this, we’ll know how to respond.

There is no silver lining in the increased violence. Last week, Gen. David Petraeus said the military “progress in Iraq is fragile” and “tenuous.” Perhaps Perino should start listening to the commanders on the ground.

QUESTION: do you have any information or have you had a chance to talk to people now about the situation as it stands now with the Mahdi Army the calls for civil disobedience.
PERINO: You’re talking about the situation in Basra?
QUESTION: Yes in Basra.
PERINO: The president was briefed this morning by General Lute during his morning briefing. He was also briefed yesterday by Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker. This is an Iraqi led and Iraqi initiated operation. And this is what we’ve been wanting to see the Iraqis do is take on more responsibility. The Iraqi government has pledged even handed enforcement of the law. That is being borne out today.

The surge created new opportunities and in fact created many more Iraqi Security Forces. They are better able to maneuver and respond to crises they’re a little bit flexible, they’re certainly better trained and they’re dealing with terrorists and extremist networks throughout Iraq, Perino said.

Basra is one example of that.
As press reports note today, Prime Minister Maliki made a brave decision to go into a very difficult situation where you have terrorist and insurgents that have infested the area and he’s taken his forces down there and are working with them.

As to whether or not MNF-I is providing sort of air cover or something like that I’ll have to refer you to them because things are unfolding quite rapidly but that’s why we are there, to help just in case they need it.

I think the way we would characterized this is this was a bold decision by the Iraqis. Many of these militias are backed by the Iranians especially when it comes to the special group’s part of Sadr’s movement that are not following the guidance of Muktada al-Sadr and have continued to fight even during the cease fire

So I would characterize it as a bold decision — precisely what the critics have asked to see in Iraq, more movement by the Iraqi Security Forces. But obviously this is one of the first times when they’ve had such an entrenched battle and we’ll be there to support them if they need it, Perino said.


The following is the longest list of ONE DAY violence in Iraq we have EVER posted since starting this blog three months ago. How anyone in their right mind can say things are getting better in Iraq boggles the mind.


The DoD is reporting a new death previously unreported by the military. Pfc. Antione V. Robinson of injuries sustained when the vehicle he was repairing collapsed in Nawa, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, March 19th. No other details were released.

The Corvallis Gazette Times is reporting the death of a civilian working for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, part of the U.S. Department of Defense. Paul Converse died by rockets and mortars that hammered the Green Zone in centrial Baghdad on Easter Sunday

Former marine Josh Hoffman spent months recovering at a hospital in Virginia while his comrades returned home. A sniper's bullet in the neck left him paralyzed from the shoulders down in January of 2007.

Staff Sargent David DeCann of Newark was clearing roadside bombs when one went off right next to him. His parents say his survival is a miracle. While clearing roads south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb went off right next to him. Don said, "He doesn't know if he stepped on it or the other guy stepped on it. One of them stepped on the pressure plate." DeCann suffered shrapnel wounds to his hip, a perforated eardrum, and cuts and scrapes.


Baghdad:#1: Gunmen also attacked an office and clashed with guards from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council at the entrance of Baghdad's main Mahdi Army stronghold of Sadr City, police said. SIIC's armed wing, the Badr Brigade, is the main rival of the Mahdi Army.Gunmen attacked headquarter of Badr organization in Habibiyah area causing no casualties.Unidentified armed groups attacked on Tuesday an office of the Dawa Party – Iraq Organization in Sadr City, eastern Baghdad, and set it ablaze but no casualties were reported, a party legislator said.

#2: In Baghdad's Sadr City, a sprawling slum of about 2 million people that is Sadr's biggest stronghold, residents said armed Mehdi Army fighters had appeared on the streets and ordered Iraqi police and soldiers to get out of the district.

#3: Baghdad, clashes erupted between militia members and Iraqi soldiers in al-Hamza Square at the edge of Sadr City, the sprawling slum in eastern Baghdad that is a Mehdi Army stronghold. Fighting then spread to other neighborhoods including Shaab and Amin. In the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Abu Disher, al-Sadr's office called for citizens to engage in civil disobedience. Stores closed and people took to the streets to protest military operations and arrests. The Interior Ministry said civil disobedience tactics were seen in five Baghdad neighboroods.Police said fighting erupted in several Sadr City neighborhoods between Mehdi Army fighters and the Badr Organization, the armed wing of a rival Shi'ite faction.

#4: A former Corvallis city councilman has died from injuries sustained when rockets pounded Baghdad's U.S.-protected Green Zone on Easter, a newspaper reported. Dick and Leona Converse of Corvallis told the Gazette-Times newspaper they learned Sunday that their son, Paul Converse, had been injured and likely wouldn't survive. On Monday, two officers from the Oregon Army National Guard arrived at their door. Converse, 56, was a financial analyst who audited contracts in Iraq, said Kristine Belisle, a spokeswoman for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

#5: smoke could be seen over the Green Zone after an apparent mortar or rocket attack.Three mortar shells hit the Green Zone today.Several volleys of mortars or rockets struck inside the Green Zone, the government and diplomatic compound.The Green Zone, the government and diplomatic compound, came under 12 indirect attacks that included 16 rockets, the U.S. military said. At least three people were wounded from the attacks, while structural damage in the compound was limited.

#6: Two roadside bombs killed one person and wounded eight others in Bab al-Sheikh district of central Baghdad, police said

.#7: Gunmen seized two police vehicles and kidnapped six policemen in the Maamil district of northeastern Baghdad, police said.

#8: Six missiles were fired by unidentified men in Abu Dshir neighborhood, in the southern Baghdad district of al-Dora on Tuesday, eyewitnesses said. "The missiles landed in the neighborhood while supporters of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr are conducting a peaceful sit-in protest," a local resident told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).Another eyewitness said light gunfire was heard after the rockets fell. No comments were made by police and nothing is yet reported on whether there were any casualties or damage sustained.

#9: U.S. military helicopters fired on armed gunmen in Sadr City to support coalition and Iraqi security forces protecting the area's checkpoints.

#10: A mortar attack killed one U.S. soldier on patrol in the Adhamiya district of Baghdada, the U.S. military said. The mortar was fired from the vicinity of Sadr City.

#11: U.S. forces surrounded Sadr city, eastern Baghdad, while the Baghdad Operations Command imposed a curfew on it as of this afternoon until Wednesday morning, the official spokesman for the Baghdad's operations said on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses also said that sounds of discontinuous gunfire and explosions are heard at different neighborhoods of the city. Power went off at some parts of Sadr city, while people there rushed to buy foodstuff preparing for security deterioration. One of the eyewitnesses told VOI "U.S. forces allowed four firefighting trucks and three ambulances to enter the city."

#12: Three mortar shells targeted a police station in Al Qanat area injuring two policemen.#13: Police found 5 dead bodies throughout Baghdad, one in Palestine Street, two in Sleikh, one in Nahdha, one in Saidiyah.

Diyala Prv:#1: and a U.S.-allied Sunni fighter also was killed in a drive-by shooting northeast of the capital, police said.

Kut:#1: Gunmen and police clashed in the southern city of Kut, where last week Mehdi Army fighters battled police. A Reuters witness said he could hear the sounds of gunfire. The streets were empty and shops closed. Police said a curfew had been imposed

.#2: Armed followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr seized control of five districts in the southern Iraqi town of Kut on Tuesday, police sources said. The sources said Sadr's Mehdi Army militia were in control of the Jihad, Shuhada, Zahara, Sharqiya and Hawi districts of the city, which has 18 districts in total. A Reuters witness in the city said he could hear shooting and explosions. U.S. warplanes were circling overhead.

#3: Clashes raged sporadically in Kut as militants fought Iraqi and US forces but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

#4: Mortar attacks wounded two civilians in Kut, police said.

Hilla:#1: Gunmen wounded three police officers on patrol in the city of Hilla, 100 km (62 km) south of Baghdad.

#2: At least two people died in the Hilla clashes, security officials said.

#3: Two bodyguards of the Babel province's governor were wounded on Tuesday in an armed attack on his house in central Hilla, a police source said. "Unidentified gunmen attacked Babel governor's house at Al-Aoroba neighborhood in central Hilla," the source told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI) on condition of anonymity." Fierce clashes took place between the governor's guards and the gunmen, during which two of the guards were wounded," he explained.

Najaf:#1: Three rockets hit the technical institute that the American forces using according to police.

Aziziya:#1: Eight or ten policemen were wounded in clashes in Aziziya town, north of Kut, police said.

Muthanna Prv:#1: In Samawa, capital of southern Muthanna province, police imposed a curfew after Mehdi Army fighters appeared on the streets. Curfews were also imposed in Hilla and Kut, police said.

Qurna:#1: One militant and one police officer were wounded in clashes in the southern Iraqi town of Qurna, 80 km (50 miles) north of Basra, police said.

Basra:#1: Iraqi forces clashed with Shiite militias in the southern oil port of Basra on Tuesday as a security plan to clamp down on violence between rival militia factions in the region began. AP Television News video showed smoke from explosions rising over the city and Iraqi soldiers exchanging gunfire with militia members.Maj. Abbas Youssef, a police officer in the Basra hospital, said four civilians had been killed and at least 18 injured in the fighting. The U.S. military said Tuesday that five suspected militants were killed in Basra while attempting to place a roadside bomb. Ten others were injured after being spotted conducting suspicious activity, the statement said.A hospital source said "tens of wounded" were arriving at hospitals with some too busy to accept more casualties.Eight civilians and four soldiers of the Mahdi army, a militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, were reported killed, while 26 others were wounded, security sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.Two ambulance drivers said they had transported eight bodies to Basra's Sadr Educational hospital. A police major at al-Mawana Hospital said it had received four bodies and 18 wounded.Police and hospital officials reported that at least 22 people had been killed and 58 wounded in the clashes. Iraqi authorities on Monday imposed an indefinite nighttime curfew on the city.

#2: At least one Iraqi battalion has already been sent to Basra, an official in the defense ministry said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't supposed to talk to the media. Other battalions may be called from Iraq's southern provinces.

#3: Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Boulani survived an assassination attempt on his motorcade in Basra, security officials said Monday. The officials said Boulani's motorcade was attacked late Sunday by men attacking with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, reported KUNA, the Kuwaiti news agency. Boulani wasn't hurt in the attack but several cars of the motorcade were damaged.

#4: Eyewitnesses from the neighboring areas of al-Jumhuriya and al-Aaliya, central Basra, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI) on Tuesday that the violent clashes in Basra were continuing from 12:00 a.m. until the present time, adding security forces were using tanks and artillery while the gunmen were using mortars and RPG-7 rockets.

#5: In Tamimiya, central Basra, known to be the most important stronghold of gunmen in Basra, eyewitnesses said a large force, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, besieged the area, where it managed to wield power after violent confrontations.

#6: In al-Jamiyat area, 8 km western Basra, another local resident said clashes were going on since the midnight of Monday with different kinds of weapons used, adding fighter planes were heard pounding some targets.

#7: An eyewitness from al-Maaqal, 10 km north of Basra, said "clashes in the area left two gunmen killed in al-Kaziza district, noting "their bodies were still littering main street there. "He said three people from the al-Kaziza fuel station were wounded and a child from the area was severely wounded from a stray bullet. "The child will most probably die due to failure to have him rushed to a hospital," said the witness.

#8: Early in the morning a mortar barrage struck the headquarters of the Iraqi Army 14th Brigade near the Jesr al-Zubair area in western the city, but there was no reports on casualties, a local police source told Xinhua.

#9: Another mortar barrage targeted the Shatt al-Arab Hotel in central the city, where the Iraqi Army operations office based, the source said without providing further details.

#10: British troops remained at their base at the airport outside Basra and were not involved in the ground fighting Tuesday, according to the British Ministry of Defense. Air support was being provided, but a spokesman could not say if it was U.S. or British planes.

#11: Gunmen kidnapped three Iraqi policemen guarding a police training centre, police said.#12: An AFP correspondent said fighting in Basra died away late afternoon and the streets were empty even of security force vehicles.

Mosul:#1: Meanwhile, the brigadier said an explosive device was detonated targeting a military ambulance belonging to the 2nd division of the Iraqi army near al-Haramat region in western Mosul, causing some material damage to the ambulance."The explosion caused no casualties," he said.#2: Unidentified gunmen blew up a house of a policeman's father in Somer neighborhood, southeastern Mosul, using bombs," a police source said. "They booby-trapped it and remotely detonated it, causing severe material damage to the house but without casualties," the source, who requested anonymity, told VOI.

#3: Police patrols found an unknown body in al-Muthanna neighborhood in eastern Mosul," Brig. Khaled Abdul Sattar Saadon told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq.Six bodies were found in different districts of Mosul, police said.

#4: Unidentified gunmen killed an employee working in a morgue in the city of Mosul on Tuesday, police said. "The gunmen killed the employee near his home in al-Rifaie neighborhood, west of Mosul," a security source, who did not want his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI). "The victim, a relative of Ninewa Governor Dreid Kashmoula, is the second morgue employee to be killed," the source said, adding no further details.

#5: Gunmen abducted the son of an official of the journalists' union, Ghanim Ismail, outside his house in eastern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.Al Anbar Prv:Haditha:#1: Iraqi police killed a militant who was trying to throw a grenade at a police patrol on Monday in Haditha, 250 km (150 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.

Afghanistan:#1: Four policemen and two civilians have been killed as a group of Taliban insurgents ambushed Afghan border policemen patrolling near the border with Iran in western Afghan province of Herat, said a police officer on Tuesday. Rahmatullah Safi, the provincial border police chief told Xinhua that the attack came on Monday evening when the border police were patrolling with vehicle in Shindand district.

#2: Gunmen fatally shot two Afghan members of a mine-clearing team on Monday, a day after five members of another team were killed in an attack in a nearby province. The latest killings came after a ceremony in the Archi district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan to mark the completion of a de-mining project, said Gen. Ayub Salangi, the provincial police chief. Gunmen shot at one of the team's cars, killing a driver and a team member from the Mine Detection and Dog Center, a UN-funded local group, Salangi said. He said he didn't know who the attackers were or if the shooting was motivated by a private grudge or anti-government hostility.



More indications Iraq is well on the way to an all out CIVIL WAR.

Sadr militia seizes parts of S.Iraq town-police
25 Mar 2008 12:26:20 GMT 25 Mar 2008 12:26:20 GMTSource: Reuters


(KUT, Iraq, March 25 (Reuters) - Armed followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr seized control of five districts in the southern Iraqi town of Kut on Tuesday, police sources said.

The sources said Sadr's Mehdi Army militia were in control of the Jihad, Shuhada, Zahara, Sharqiya and Hawi districts of the city, which has 18 districts in total.

A Reuters witness in the city said he could hear shooting and explosions. U.S. warplanes were circling overhead.

"We ask U.S. forces to help us with aircraft and vehicles. The militants have spread out through Kut," said police Captain Majid al-Imara. He said 8-10 policemen had been wounded in clashes in the town of Aziziya north of Kut.

Iraq's security forces have repeatedly clashed with Sadr's followers in Kut over the past two weeks.


More indications Iraq is spiraling into an all-out CIVIL WAR.

Rival Shi'ite factions clash in Baghdad - police

25 Mar 2008 12:45:32 GMT 25 Mar 2008 12:45:32 GMT Source: Reuters


BAGHDAD, March 25 (Reuters) - Fighting erupted between followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and supporters of a rival Shi'ite faction in several Baghdad neighbourhoods on Tuesday, police said.

The fighting was taking place in several neighbourhoods of Sadr City, the sprawling slum of about two million people that is Sadr's main stronghold, they said.

Police said Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Sadr were battling gunmen from the Badr Organisation, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC). The Sadrists and SIIC represent the two biggest Shi'ite political blocs in parliament.

Police said the fighting had forced them to leave the Habibiya and Orfaly neighbourhoods of Sadr City, along with a third neighbourhood close to the slum, al-Maamel.

A Reuters witness in Sadr City reported seeing a long column of U.S. Stryker armoured vehicles entering the area.

A spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover, said he was aware of clashes between gunmen and police in Sadr City. He had no reports of any casualties.

Stover also said rockets fired at the Green Zone, the diplomatic and government compound in central Baghdad, had come from Sadr City.

The Mehdi Army is meant to be observing a ceasefire imposed by Sadr, but in recent days there has been an upsurge in violence involving the militia.

Militia fighters have complained that U.S. and Iraqi forces are exploiting the truce to carry out indiscriminate arrests. The U.S. military says it only targets rogue Mehdi Army units that have ignored Sadr's ceasefire order.


All across Iraq there are growing signs the country is slipping into a full-fledged CIVIL WAR.

This is just one of the reports we will being our blog readers to prove our point.

Iraqi forces battle militias in Basra,
25 Mar 2008 14:50:07 GMT 25 Mar 2008 14:50:07 GMT Source: Reuters
* Security forces fight militias in Basra
* Sadr threatens national "civil revolt"
* Fighting, curfews in southern towns
(Adds details from Basra, analyst quotes)

By Aref Mohammed


BASRA, Iraq, March 25 (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces battled the Mehdi Army militia in Basra on Tuesday in a drive to win control of the southern oil city, but violence appeared to be spreading to Baghdad and other cities.

Police and health workers said at least 12 people were killed in the fighting in districts of central and northern Basra where Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army has a strong presence.

"There are clashes in the streets. Bullets are coming from everywhere and we can hear the sound of rocket explosions. This has been going on since dawn," resident Jamil told Reuters by telephone as he cowered in his home.

Columns of black smoke rose above the city and explosions and machinegun fire could be heard. Reuters Television pictures showed masked gunmen firing mortars in the street, while others drove around in captured Iraqi army and police vehicles.

The Mehdi Army, which has thousands of fighters, has kept a relatively low profile since last August when Sadr called a ceasefire, one of the main factors behind the sharp reduction in sectarian violence in Iraq in recent months.

But the militia has chafed at the truce, saying U.S. and Iraqi forces exploited it to carry out indiscriminate arrests.


We have been saying it for weeks and FINALLY some of the mainstream media are agreeing with us. The success of the "surge" is a myth and the whole so-called success of the "surge" is about to go up in smoke---literally.

President Bush and his parrot media spokepeople, FOX NEWS, continue to LIE, LIE and LIE some more to the American people about what is happening with the "surge." They have actually no shame and every single day the anchors at FOX NEWS and the right wing pundits they employ or guests on their shows pour out a string of LIES about the success of the "surge."

The shame of it all is there are American families with members in the military over in Iraq and if they get their news from FOX NEWS they think things are going good when in fact the situation on the ground in Iraq is deteriorating every single day.

Is 'success' of U.S. surge in Iraq about to unravel?

Leila Fadel and Nancy A. Youssef McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: March 24, 2008 09:07:40 PM

BAGHDAD — A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.

Simultaneously, in the strategic southern port city of Basra, where Sadr's Mahdi militia is in control, the Iraqi government launched a crackdown in the face of warnings by Sadr's followers that they'll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained. By 1 a.m. Arab satellite news channels reported clashes between the Mahdi Army and police in Basra.

The freeze on offensive activity by Sadr's Mahdi Army has been a major factor behind the recent drop in violence in Iraq, and there were fears that the confrontation that's erupted in Baghdad and Basra could end the lull in attacks, assassinations, kidnappings and bombings.

As the U.S. military recorded its 4,000th death in Iraq, U.S. officials in Baghdad warned again Monday that drawing down troops too quickly could collapse Iraq's fragile security situation.

Pentagon officials said that military leaders are watching for any signs of backsliding as they consider whether to keep drawing down troops below pre-surge levels.

President Bush spoke about the death toll, saying, "One day, people will look back at this moment in history and say, 'Thank God there were courageous people willing to serve, because they laid the foundations for peace for generations to come.' "

Even as he spoke, the situation on the ground was rapidly worsening.

On Sunday, a barrage of at least 17 rockets hit the heavily fortified Green Zone and surrounding neighborhoods, where both the U.S. and Iraqi government headquarters are housed, according to police. Most of them were launched from the outskirts of Sadr City and Bayaa, both Mahdi Army-controlled neighborhoods.

On Monday, the Sadrists all but shut down the neighborhoods they control on the west bank of Baghdad. Gunmen went to stores and ordered them to close as militiamen stood in the streets. Mosques used their loudspeakers to urge people to come forward and join the protest.

Fliers were distributed with the Sadrists' three demands of the Iraqi government: to release detainees, stop targeting Sadrist members and apologize to the families and the tribal sheiks of the men.

The Iraqi security forces issued a statement promising to deal with those who terrorized shopkeepers and students.

"It's an open sit-in until the government responds to our demands. If the government doesn't respond, we will have our own procedures," said Hamdallah al Rikabi, the head of the Sadr offices in Karkh, in western Baghdad.

In the southern port city of Basra, where Shiite groups are battling for power, the Mahdi Army is the most feared force. The British military pulled out of the city late last year, leaving the city in the militia's hands.

The Iraqi government announced a three-day security plan, beginning 5 p.m. Tuesday, to seal Basra off from other governorates and countries, shut down schools and all institutes of education and ban vehicles from entering the province. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, as well as the ministers of defense and interior, were in Basra on Monday.

Since Sadr froze his militia on Aug. 29 and renewed the freeze in February, militia members and Sadrists have railed against the government for targeting and detaining their members. In Basra, Sadr's office rejected the security plan and warned that it'll react if attacked or if Iraqi forces detain more Sadrists.

As Shiite violence rises, U.S. troop deaths also appear to be rising in places such as Baghdad, where the American military is thinning out its presence as part of its drawdown of five brigades.

Attacks against civilians in the capital are rising, according to statistics compiled by McClatchy.

Next week, the U.S. will finish pulling out the second of five surge brigades. As part of the drawdown, the military has moved battalions out of Baghdad toward more violent areas such as the northern city of Mosul and Iraq's northeastern Diyala province.

As the troop presence has shifted, so has the violence. For the first time since January, a majority of U.S. troops were killed in Baghdad, not in outlying northern provinces. Indeed, the U.S. military reached the death of its 4,000th soldier in Iraq on Sunday, when four U.S. soldiers were killed in southern Baghdad.

So far, this month, 27 soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Of those, 16, or 59 percent, died in Baghdad. In January, 25 percent of U.S. deaths happened in Baghdad, or 10 of 40.

Civilian casualties in Baghdad are also on the rise, according to a McClatchy count. After a record low through November, when at least 76 people were killed and 306 were injured, the deaths began to rise. In December, it crept up to 88 people killed, in January 100 and in February 172. As of March 24, at least 149 people were killed and 448 were injured.


A new report was presented to a House Sub-Committee on the number of family member of wounded veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering with depression and suicidal thoughts.

There are a growing number of military families with what psychologists are beginning to recognize as Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder. Secondary Trauma may occur when a person has an indirect exposure to risk or trauma, resulting in many of the same symptoms as a full-blown diagnosis of PTSD. These symptoms can include depression, suicidal thoughts and feelings, substance abuse, feelings of alienation and isolation, feelings of mistrust and betrayal, anger and irritability, or severe impairment in daily functioning.

One can only wonder if President Bush and Vice President Cheney ever stop to think what they have done to so many Americans and their families all because they had this cockamamie notion that Saddam Hussein was going to unleash a nuclear attack on the United States.

And judging by the latest pronouncements of Cheney he is not satisfied with destroying so many lives with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he wants to attack Iran next.

Commentary by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE

For Iraq Vets and Their Families, Trauma Can Be Contagious

By Stacy Bannerman, Foreign Policy in FocusPosted on March 25, 2008, Printed on March 25, 2008


This is an excerpt from testimony before a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing held February 28, 2008, regarding the Iraq War's mental health impacts of Iraq War on the families of Guard/Reserve veterans.

I am the author of When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind. I am currently separated from my husband, a National Guard soldier who served one year in Iraq in 2004-05. Just as we are beginning to find our way back together, we are starting the countdown for a possible second deployment. Two of my cousins by marriage have also served in Iraq, one with the MN Guard, a deployment that lasted 22 months, longer than any other ground combat unit. My other cousin, active duty, was killed in action.

My family members have spent more time fighting one war -- the war in Iraq -- than my grandfather and uncles did in WWII and Korea, combined. When the home front costs and burdens fall repeatedly on the same shoulders, the anticipatory grief and trauma -- secondary, intergenerational and betrayal -- is exponential and increasingly acute. Nowhere is that more obvious than in Guard and Reserve households.

Same Duties, Less Training
Our Guardsmen and Reservists perform the same duties as regular active troops when they are in theatre, but they do it with abbreviated training and, all-too-often, insufficient protection and aging equipment. It was a National Guardsman who asked then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld what he and the Army were doing "to address shortages and antiquated equipment" National Guard soldiers heading to Iraq were struggling with.

Guard families experience the same stressors as active duty families before, during, and after deployment, although we do not have anywhere near the same level of support, nor do our loved ones when they come home. Many Guard members and their families report being shunned by the active duty mental health system. Army National Guard Specialist and Iraq War veteran Brandon Jones said that when he and his wife sought post-deployment counseling, they were "made to feel we were taking up a resource meant for active duty soldiers from the base."

One Guardsman's wife was told that "active duty families were given preference" when seeking services for herself and her daughters while her husband was in Iraq.

The nearly 3 million immediate family members directly impacted by Guard/Reserve deployments struggle with issues that active duty families do not. The Guard is a unique branch of the Armed Services that straddles the civilian and military sectors, serves both the community and the country.

The Guard has never before been deployed in such numbers for so long. Most never expected to go to war. During Vietnam, some people actually joined the Guard in order to dodge the draft and avoid combat. Today's National Guard and Reservists are serving with honor and bravery, each and every time they're called. But when the Governor of Puerto Rico called for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq at the annual National Guard conference, more than 4,000 National Guardsmen gave him a standing ovation.

These factors are crucial to understanding the mental health impacts of the war in Iraq on the families of Guard/Reserve veterans, and tailoring programs and services to support them.
Several weeks after my husband got the call he was mobilized. There was very little time to transition from a civilian lifestyle and employment to full-time active duty. The Guard didn't have regular family group meetings, and I couldn't go next door to talk to another wife who was going through the same things I was, or who had already been there, done that. Most Guard/Reservists live miles away from a base or Armory, many are in rural communities. We are isolated and alone.

At least 20 percent of us experience a significant drop in household income when our loved one is mobilized. This financial pressure is an added stressor. The majority of citizen soldiers work for small businesses or are self-employed. Some have lost their jobs or livelihoods as a direct result of deployment.

The possibility of a second or third tour makes it difficult to secure another one. Guard members have reported being put on probation or having their hours cut within a few days of being put on alert status for deployment. Some of us have to re-locate. Some of us go to food shelves. Where we once had shared parenting responsibilities, the spouse left behind is now the sole caregiver, without the benefit of an on-base child care center.

Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder
During deployment, we withdraw and do the best we can to survive. Anxious, depressed, and alone, we attempt to cope by drinking more, eating less, taking Xanax or Prozac to make it through. We close the curtains so we can't see the black sedan with government plates pulling into our drive. We cautiously circle the block when we come home, our personal perimeter check to make sure there are no Casualty Notification Officers around. Every time the phone rings, our hearts skip a beat. Our kids may act out or withdraw, get into fights, detach or deteriorate, socially, emotionally, and academically. There are no organic mental health services for the children of National Guard and Reservists, even though they are more likely to be married with children than active duty troops.

One woman wrote, "My husband is a Reservist and, foolishly or not, we did not expect him to be activated and sent to Iraq. During my husband's deployment I had anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and hair loss from the stress. I had to cut back on my work hours because I couldn't concentrate."

Click on link to read the full story.....



Phil Donahue has never been one to hold back on his liberal feelings, and in this video he explains how the right wing corporate controlled media sold the Iraq war to unsuspecting Americans.


The mainstream media has taken it upon themselves to shield the American public from the consequences of the Iraq war. In this video, Phyllis Bennis of the INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES spells out all the ways the American pubic are kept in the dark about what is really happening in Iraq.
The video is part of The Real News Network's programming.



The right wing Wall Street Journal still believes there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda despite the fact it has been proven time and time again there never was a connection between the two.

WSJ defends discredited claims of Saddam-al Qaeda ‘collaboration.’


Responding to the recently released Pentagon study on the links between Saddam Hussein’s regime and Al Qaeda, a Wall Street Journal editorial claims that the report “buttress[es] the case that the decision to oust Saddam was the right one“:

Five years on, few Iraq myths are as persistent as the notion that the Bush Administration invented a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Yet a new Pentagon report suggests that Iraq’s links to world-wide terror networks, including al Qaeda, were far more extensive than previously understood.

In fact, as has been widely publicized, the new study “found no ’smoking gun’ (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam’s Iraq and Al-Qaeda.” Nevertheless, many conservatives have tried to cast the report as a vindication of their wild theories about a Saddam-Al Qaeda alliance. More at the Wonk Room.


U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:

DoD Confirmation List

Latest Coalition Fatality: Mar 23, 2008
03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 3)
Sgt. Thomas C. Ray, II, 40, of Weaverville, N.C...died March 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army...

03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 3)
Spc. David S. Stelmat, 27, of Littleton, N.H...died March 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army...

03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 3)
Sgt. David B. Williams, 26, of Tarboro, N.C...died March 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army...

03/24/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pvt. Tyler J. Smith, 22, of Bethel, Maine, died Mar. 21 at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when the base received indirect fire. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team...


International human rights activists say there has been an overall rise in crimes against women since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, with so-called "honour killings" rising steadily.

Baghdad's main mortuary has seen a rise in the number of corpses received in the past fortnight amid a new wave of violence in and around the Iraqi capital, its director told AFP on Monday.

by Jay DeshmukhMon Mar 24, 10:45 AM ET


The mortuary has received an average of 15 bodies per day of people killed in attacks in Baghdad in the past two weeks, Munjid Redha Ali said.

This is up from an average of two bodies a day since the beginning of the year, as overall violence dropped following the enforcement of a security plan across the city.

"There is a spike in the number of corpses of people who have died violent deaths in the past 15 days," Redha Ali told AFP.

"We hope the trend that we are seeing now does not continue," he said, adding most of the victims had "blast or bullet" wounds.

Insurgents have stepped up attacks in both Baghdad and other parts of Iraq in recent weeks.
On Sunday, at least 18 people were killed in a series of attacks in the capital, including seven when armed men opened fire on a crowd in a local market.

International human rights activists say there has been an overall rise in crimes against women since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, with so-called "honour killings" rising steadily.


Five years later, the United States remains at war in Iraq, but there are days when it would be hard to tell from a quick look at television news, newspapers and the Internet.Media attention on Iraq began to wane after the first months of fighting, but as recently as the middle of last year, it was still the most-covered topic.

Since then, Iraq coverage by major American news sources has plummeted, to about one-fifth of what it was last summer, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Even the death of the 4,000th young American in the Iraq war only brought a small ripple of attention in the print and electronic media and then it was back to politics and the latest sex scandals involving politicians or celebrities.



The drop in coverage parallels — and may be explained by — a decline in public interest. Surveys by the Pew Research Center show that more than 50 percent of Americans said they followed events in Iraq “very closely” in the months just before and after the war began, but that slid to an average of 40 percent in 2006, and has been running below 30 percent since last fall.

Experts offer many other explanations for the declining media focus, like the danger and expense in covering Iraq, and shrinking newsroom budgets. In the last year, a flagging economy and the most competitive presidential campaign in memory have diverted attention and resources.

“Vietnam held the media’s attention a lot better because it was a war with a draft that touched a lot more people; people were sent against their will, and many more Americans were killed,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard.

“In a conventional war, like World War II, there’s dramatic change, a moving front line, a compelling narrative,” he said. But after the triumphal first months, Iraq became a war of insurgents vs. counterinsurgents, harder to make sense of, “with more of the same grim news, day after day.”

The three broadcast networks’ nightly newscasts devoted more than 4,100 minutes to Iraq in 2003 and 3,000 in 2004, before leveling off at about 2,000 a year, according to Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the broadcasts and posts detailed breakdowns at tyndallreport.com. And by the last months of 2007, he said, the broadcasts were spending half as much time on Iraq as earlier in the year.

Since the start of last year, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of the nonprofit Pew Research Center, has tracked reporting by several dozen major newspapers, cable stations, broadcast television networks, Web sites and radio programs. Iraq accounted for 18 percent of their prominent news coverage in the first nine months of 2007, but only 9 percent in the following three months, and 3 percent so far this year.

The policy debate in Washington that dominated last year’s Iraq coverage has almost disappeared from the news. And reporting on events in Iraq has fallen by more than two-thirds from a year ago.

The drop accelerated with a sharp decline in violence in Iraq that began at the end of last summer. The last six months have been safer for American troops than any comparable period since the war began, with about 33 killed each month, compared with about 91 a month over the previous year.

“The available news hole got so much smaller because election and economic news took up so much of the space,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Center.

There are no authoritative figures for most media coverage before 2007. But a check of several large and midsize newspapers’ archives shows a year-by-year decline in articles about Iraq, and an increase in the proportion supplied by wire services. Experts who follow the coverage say there is no doubt about the trend.

“I was getting on average three to five calls a day for interviews about the war” in the first years, said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow on national security at the Brookings Institution. “Now it’s less than one a day.”

He argued that Americans who support the war might not have wanted to follow the news when it was bad, and that Americans against the war are less interested now that the news is better. And the presidential candidates, he said, have shown “surprisingly little interest in discussing it in detail.”

Many news organizations have fewer people in Iraq than they once did, though no definitive numbers are available. Coalition officials have said that although there were several hundred reporters embedded with military units early in the war, the number has been measured in tens in recent months.

Violence against journalists makes reporting on Iraq costly and difficult; executives of The New York Times have said that the newspaper is spending more than $3 million a year to cover Iraq.

The risks have forced news organizations to hire private security forces and Iraqi employees who can go places that Westerners cannot safely explore.

From the start of the war through 2005, journalists and their support workers were killed in Iraq at a rate of one every 12 days, according to tallies kept by the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2006 and 2007, the rate was one every eight days. Most of those killed have been Iraqis.

“Danger and the expense are gigantic factors,” Mr. Jones said. “The news media have to constantly revisit how much money and risk to expend.”