Monday, April 7, 2008

VIDEO: BLACKWATER. WHO ARE THEY? WHAT DO THEY DO? HOW MUCH MONEY ARE THEY MAKING OFF IRAQ WAR? YOU BE THE JUDGE


"THE COALITION OF THE BILLING"

There has been a lot of talk lately about private contractors who are making millions off the war in Iraq. One of the most prominent is Blackwater, a firm which provides security for visiting diplomats and executives from companies doing business in Iraq.

This video explains the role of Blackwater and shows testimony before Congress by the CEO of Blackwater.

At last count there were 185 private contractors like Blackwater doing business in Iraq and getting paid millions. They are known as "THE COALITION OF THE BILLING."

Here now is the video on Blackwater and what they do and how much money they are making off the war in Iraq.

http://therealnews.com/web/index.php?thisdataswitch=0&thisid=1301&thisview=item

OFFICIALS SEE NO LET UP IN VIOLENCE. WILL PETRAEUS AGREE?

BAGHDAD — When Gen. David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker brief Congress this week, they will be hard-pressed to depict Iraq as moving toward stability in the wake of recent violence that sent deaths soaring to their highest level in seven months.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-future7apr07,1,6913892.story
By Tina Susman and Ned ParkerLos Angeles Times Staff Writers
April 7, 2008

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's move against Shiite Muslim militias has revealed the gravity of the country's Shiite rivalries, just as U.S. forces are decreasing their presence.

The intense combat in southern Iraq that pitted Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army against Iraqi and American forces has largely wound down for the time being, but the enmity that fueled it remains. Fighting between the two sides flared Sunday in Baghdad, leaving as many as 22 dead.

The military campaign in the southern port of Basra, which the government says targeted all armed groups, unraveled a seven-month freeze on armed operations observed by the Mahdi Army that had been considered pivotal to Iraq's recent reduction in violence.

"We are now locked in a battle," said a high-ranking Iraqi government official, who predicted more confrontations in the coming months. "I think this will be a hot summer in Iraq."
Crocker, in a meeting with foreign journalists Thursday, praised Maliki for taking on militias but said the prime minister had started a fight that could not be dropped.

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO: "INNOCENT CHILDREN OF WAR". WILL GEN. PETRAEUS TALK TO CONGRESS ABOUT THIS?

The war in Iraq has been a long and difficult struggle and nobody has suffered more than the innocent children of Iraq who have been caught in the middle of quagmire created by the United States invading and occupying their country. This video is graphic, but war is not pretty. On Tuesday General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, will appear before Congress to talk about the success of the "surge." Will Petraeus talk about invading and occupying Iraq has done to the innocent children of Iraq? Don't hold your breath. The innocent children of Iraq are considered "collateral damage" by the Bush administration and a sacrifice that must be made to bring democracy to Iraq. Instead of listening to Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker "spin" how well things are going in Iraq, the cable news networks should show this video. At least the video is the TRUTH.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkLonmWjlWA

THEY CAME, THEY SAW, THEY.....DESERTED.

That, in short form, is the story of the Iraqi government "offensive" in Basra (and Baghdad). It took a few days, but the headlines on stories out of Iraq ("Can Iraq's Soldiers Fight?") are now telling a grim tale and the information in them is worse yet. Stephen Farrell and James Glanz of the New York Times estimate that at least 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen, or more than 4% of the force sent into Basra, "abandoned their posts" during the fighting, including "dozens of officers" and "at least two senior field commanders."

http://www.tomdispatch.com/

Other pieces offer even more devastating numbers. For instance, Sudarsan Raghavan and Ernesto LondoƱo of the Washington Post suggest that perhaps 30% of government troops had "abandoned the fight before a cease-fire was reached." Tina Susman of the Los Angeles Times offers 50% as an estimate for police desertions in the midst of battle in Baghdad's vast Sadr City slum, a stronghold of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
In other words, after years of intensive training by American advisors and an investment of $22 billion dollars, U.S. military spokesmen are once again left trying to put the best face on a strategic disaster (from which they were rescued thanks to negotiations between Muqtada al-Sadr and advisors to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, brokered in Iran by General Qassem Suleimani, a man on the
U.S. Treasury Department's terrorist watch list). Think irony. "From what we understand," goes the lame American explanation, "the bulk of these [deserters] were from fairly fresh troops who had only just gotten out of basic training and were probably pushed into the fight too soon."
This week, with surge commander General David Petraeus back from Baghdad's ever redder,
ever more dangerous "Green Zone," here are a few realities to keep in mind as he testifies before Congress:
1. The situation in Iraq is getting worse: Don't believe anyone who says otherwise. The surge-ified, "less violent" Iraq that the general has presided over so confidently is, in fact, a chaotic, violent tinderbox of city states, proliferating militias armed to the teeth, competing regions armed to the teeth, and competing religious factions armed to the teeth. Worse yet, under Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the U.S. has been the great proliferator. It has armed and funded close to 100,000 Sunnis organized into militias reportedly intent on someday destroying "the Iranians" (i.e. the Maliki government). It has also supported Shiite militias (aka the Iraqi army). In the recent offensive, it took sides in a churning Shiite civil war. As Nir Rosen recently summed matters up in a typically
brilliant piece in the Nation magazine, Baghdad today is but a set of "fiefdoms run by warlords and militiamen," a pattern the rest of the country reflects as well. "The Bush administration," he adds, "and the U.S. military have stopped talking of Iraq as a grand project of nation-building, and the U.S. media have dutifully done the same." Meanwhile, in the little noticed north of the country, an Arab/Kurdish civil war over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly Mosul as well is brewing. This, reports Pepe Escobar of Asia Times, could be explosive. Think nightmare.
2. The Bush administration has no learning curve. Its top officials, military and civilian, are unable to absorb the realities of Iraq (or the region) and so, like the generals of World War I, simply send their soldiers surging "over the top" again and again, with minor changes in tactics, to the same dismal end. Time.com's Tony Karon, at his Rootless Cosmopolitan blog,
caught this phenomenon strikingly, writing that Maliki's failed offensive "shared the fate of pretty much every similar initiative by the Bush Administration and its allies and proxies since the onset of the 'war on terror.'"

Click on link to read more....

CNN: RELIGIOUS LEADERS TELL AL-SADR TO KEEP MEHDI ARMY INTACT

CNN is reporting religious leaders all across Iraq are urging Muqtada al-Sadr to keep his Mehdi Army intact which is in complete contrast to what Jennifer Griffen of Fox News reported on Brit Hume's "Special Report." Griffen had reported that al-Sadr was going to disband his Mehdi Army, a statement which already has been denied by a member of the al-Sadr Mehdi Army.

Religious leaders tell al-Sadr to keep militia intact
Story Highlights
NEW: Clerics want Mehdi Army to remain, spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr says
Prime minister to ban Sadrists from politics if Mehdi Army not disbanded
Three U.S. soldiers killed Monday brings total for Iraq war to 4,023


http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/04/07/iraq.sadr/index.html

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's top Shiite religious leaders have told anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr not to disband his Mehdi Army, an al-Sadr spokesman said Monday amid fresh fighting in the militia's Baghdad strongholds.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded Sunday that the cleric disband his militia, which waged two uprisings against U.S. troops in 2004, or see his supporters barred from public office.
But al-Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi said al-Sadr has consulted with Iraq's Shiite clerical leadership "and they refused that." He did not provide details of the talks.
The Mehdi Army has borne the brunt of an Iraqi government crackdown on what Iraqi and U.S. officials call "outlaw" militias in the past two weeks. The government's effort to reclaim control of the southern city of Basra in late March sparked clashes across southern Iraq and into Baghdad, leaving more than 700 dead, according to U.N. agencies.
Al-Sadr's followers have accused the government, which is dominated by al-Sadr's leading rivals, of trying to cripple their movement before provincial elections in October.
The Sadrists hold about 30 seats in Iraq's 275-member parliament and were part of al-Maliki's ruling coalition until August. The cleric withdrew his support over al-Maliki's refusal to demand a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Watch al-Maliki talk about issues that concern Iraq »
Fighting in Baghdad continued through the weekend after al-Maliki issued his call for the Mehdi Army to disband.
U.S. aircraft struck targets in two Shiite districts of Baghdad on Monday, with Iraqi officials reporting at least 18 dead. And three U.S. soldiers were killed in action Monday, bringing the number of U.S. combat deaths to nine in the past two days and 4,023 since the war began.
Watch a report from the front line in Sadr City »
In addition, nine Iraqis were killed and 65 were wounded in clashes that lasted into Monday morning in Sadr City, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. U.S. troops and armor backed up Iraqi troops in Sadr City on Sunday as they fought to shut down rocket and mortar fire that targeted U.S. bases and the International Zone, the heavily fortified Baghdad district that houses Iraqi government offices and the U.S. Embassy.
The latest fighting came on the eve of a highly anticipated progress report on the five year old war by Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in
Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Both men are set to begin two days of testimony to American lawmakers Tuesday in Washington.
The U.S. military blames the attacks on "criminal elements" violating al-Sadr's March 30 order to his followers to halt their attacks on government forces. The attacks have gone up sharply since al-Maliki's government launched its operation in Basra.
Al-Sadr has called for a mass demonstration in Baghdad on Wednesday against the U.S. presence in Iraq. That protest that would coincide with the fifth anniversary of the toppling of former dictator Saddam Hussein's government, which fell as a U.S.-led army entered the Iraqi capital.

GEN. PETRAEUS EXPECTED TO SPIN SUCCESS IN IRAQ DESPITE RECENT DEATHS OF GIS AND MORTAR ATTACKS ON GREEN ZONE

General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will bring their traveling Iraq road show to Congress on Tuesday and the spin will begin on how well things are going in Iraq even though five GIs have been killed in the past two days and hundreds of Iraqi citizens are fleeing Baghdad.

Gen. Petraeus' Iraq strategy on trial in Congress
Nancy A. Youssef McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: April 07, 2008 07:34:58 PM


http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/32916.html

WASHINGTON — This is not the way that Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, was expected to reappear before Congress.

Violence in Iraq recently had dropped to a nearly three-year low. The once-intransigent Iraqi parliament had passed some key pieces of legislation. Only five U.S. service members had been killed since October in Anbar province, a fraction of the toll a year ago.

But that was before the offensive that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched in the southern port city of Basra and in Baghdad two weeks ago. Instead of ridding the city of rogue Shiite Muslim militias, the operation exposed the frailty of the U.S.-trained Iraqi military, emboldened rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and his fighters and showcased Iran's powerful influence on Iraq's security and politics.

As if to underscore the point, fighting broke out again in Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City neighborhood Sunday, increasingly drawing U.S. troops into the conflict. Three American soldiers died in rocket and mortar attacks in the capital, and three others were killed in combat at other locations. More than 30 Iraqis have died in the fighting since Sunday, Iraqi police said.

On Tuesday, Petraeus will have to explain to legislators why the U.S. didn't know about the American-backed Iraqi government's offensive well in advance, and whether the drop in violence that followed the dispatch of additional U.S. forces to Iraq may have been temporary.
"Petraeus has to show that the effect of the surge has legs, momentum and direction," said Vali Nasr, a professor of international affairs at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, are to appear before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees to give congressionally mandated testimony about the U.S. strategy in Iraq.

Top Pentagon officials already have offered a preview of the testimony, saying that the security situation is too precarious for any major shift. Petraeus, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have warned that violence could easily return.

The military has called for an assessment period after the five combat brigades that were added to the American force in Iraq depart this summer, leaving roughly 140,000 troops there. But officials haven't said how long that assessment will take or what criteria they'll use to determine the size and timing of any further troop withdrawals.

Petraeus' testimony comes at an uncertain time in Iraq. In addition to Basra, U.S. forces are in the midst of a military offensive in the northern city of Mosul, where officials think that al Qaida elements still thrive.

In addition, U.S. casualty figures and Iraqi civilian deaths are up. According to icasualties.org, 38 American soldiers were killed in March, compared with 29 in February. Statistics that
McClatchy compiled show that civilian casualties in Baghdad also rose from February to March.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi parliament is still struggling to pass more of the legislation that the Bush administration called benchmarks for its strategy.

Throughout his tenure, Petraeus has promised candid testimony. And as in September, when he last testified, he's said he'll write his prepared remarks with limited input from the White House. President Bush is expected to give a nationwide address Wednesday.

On Capitol Hill, key legislators acknowledged that the U.S. troop buildup has reduced violence and created some breathing room for the Iraqis to govern, but said that Iraq's nascent government had failed to lead.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Friday that Maliki "has shown himself to be a political leader who is excessively sectarian, who is incompetent and who runs a corrupt administration."

Added Levin: "The purpose of the surge clearly has not been achieved."

For the military, the question is how to minimize what top officers say is an enormous strain on its equipment, training and reserves. Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, has said that keeping 15 combat brigades in Iraq would further stretch an already stressed Army.
The Bush administration is planning to reduce combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to 12 months from 15 months, beginning this summer.


"The Iraqis have all kinds of time. The U.S. military is running out of time," said a senior Pentagon official who requested anonymity because he isn't authorized to speak for the military.
Ultimately, the testimony is about Iraq after the Bush administration leaves office next January. "What will be left for the next administration?" said Colin Kahl, an assistant security studies professor at Georgetown University.

THINK PROGRESS REPORTS: 3 MORE GIS KILLED. HUNDREDS OF IRAQIS FLEE BAGHDAD ON MONDAY

Hundreds of Iraqis flee Baghdad.
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/07/hundreds-of-iraqis-flee-baghdad/

At least 14 Iraqi civilians were killed in clashes in Baghdad today; nine of the casualties occurred in Sadr City, the Mahdi Militia’s stronghold that “has been under siege since last week by about 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops.” Three American troops were also killed, and hundreds of Iraqis fled Baghdad “as U.S. and Iraqi forces increased pressure on anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who faces an ultimatum to either disband his Mahdi Army or give up politics.”

FOX NEWS' JENNIFER GRIFFEN WRONGLY REPORTS AL-SADR WILLING TO DISBAND HIS MAHDI ARMY

Fox News' Jennifer Griffen reported on Brit Hume's "Fox News Special Report" that cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he would disband his Mahdi army when just the opposite it TRUE.

Here is a documented story pointing out what Griffen and Fox News reported was totally WRONG.

Sadr did not refer dissolving al-Mahdi army to top Shiite clerics

Najaf - Voices of Iraq
Monday , 07 /04 /2008 Time 10:41:11


Source: http://www.aswataliraq.info/look/english/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrArticle=75632&NrIssue=2&NrSection=1


Najaf, Apr 7, (VOI) - The official spokesman for al-Sadr’s office on Monday denied that Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had referred the dissolution of al-Mahdi army to Shiite clerics, describing reports in this regard as inaccurate.


“Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr did not think of dissolving al-Mahdi army,” Sheikh Salah al-Ubeidi told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI), noting that “we have no right to interfere in freezing or dissolving al-Mahdi army because it is an exclusive right of Muqtada al-Sadr.”

Al-Ubeidi had said that any effort to prevent Sadrists from political participation would be unconstitutional.Al-Mahdi army, the military wing of the Sadrist bloc under Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was established in July 2003.Basra province, 590 km south of Baghdad, witnessed six days of bloody armed confrontations between governmental forces and Mahdi Army militia.Clashes ended when the Shiite leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, ordered his followers to abort "all armed scenes," and to cooperate with governmental forces to impose security and law.

The clashes left 210 gunmen killed and 600 others wounded as well as the arrest of 155 during Operation Saulat al-Foursan (Knights’ Assault), aimed at eliminating all armed groups in the southern Iraqi city.

The end result of this report is that Jennifer Griffen and FOX NEWS once again LIED to the American public and Brit Hume allowed it to happen because it was on his FOX NEWS show "Special Report."

LIST OF LATEST GI DEATHS: DOD HAS YET TO CONFIRM 10; TOTAL 4,023

The latest wave of attacks on US forces in Iraq has left the Department of Defense waiting to confirm the deaths of ten more soldiers in Iraq.

Meanwhile, we have a partial list of those Americans killed in the past two days in Iraq.

Click on the part in "BLUE" to get further details on each soldier.


U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
4013
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:
10
Total
4023

DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Apr 07, 2008
04/07/08 MNF: MND-B Soldiers attacked by RPG (Baghdad)
Two Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers were killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack at approximately 6 p.m. April 7.

04/07/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by small-arms fire
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed as the result of small-arms fire after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in eastern Baghdad April 7.

04/07/08 MNF: Update - Coalition Force Soldiers attacked in Diyala
A second Multi-National Division – North Soldier has died from wounds sustained in an IED attack in Diyala Province during convoy operations April 6. One Soldier was killed as previously reported and four others were wounded in the attack.

04/07/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed by an improvised-explosive device during a route-clearing patrol in eastern Baghdad April 6.

04/06/08 MNF: MND-C Soldier dies of Non-combat related injuries
A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier died from non-combat-related injuries April 6. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

04/06/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by rockets
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed from injuries sustained in an indirect fire attack at approximately 3:00 p.m. in eastern Baghdad April 6.

04/06/08 MNF: Coalition forces Soldier attacked by IED
A Coalition forces Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Diyala Province, April 6.

WILL PETRAEUS BE "WATER BOY" FOR BUSH AND STUMP FOR WAR WITH IRAN? BRITS THINK SO

A story in the London Telegraph states the British feel Gen. David Petraeus will be hyping going to war with Iran when he appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuseday.

Despite the fact that there was a serious attack on the Green Zone Sunday which killed 3 GIs and wounded another 31, Petraeus is expected to do Bush's bidding on the need for a war with Iran.


British fear US commander is beating the drum for Iran strikes

By Damien McElroyForeign Affairs Correspondent04/04/08

"The Telegraph" -- --

British officials gave warning yesterday that America's commander in Iraq will declare that Iran is waging war against the US-backed Baghdad government.

A strong statement from General David Petraeus about Iran's intervention in Iraq could set the stage for a US attack on Iranian military facilities, according to a Whitehall assessment. In closely watched testimony in Washington starting Tuesday, Gen Petraeus will state that the Iranian threat has risen as Tehran has supplied and directed attacks by militia fighters against the Iraqi state and its US allies.

The outbreak of Iraq's worst violence in 18 months last week with fighting in Basra and the daily bombardment of the Green Zone diplomatic enclave, demonstrated that although the Sunni Muslim insurgency is dramatically diminished, Shia forces remain in a strong position to destabilise the country.

"Petraeus is going to go very hard on Iran as the source of attacks on the American effort in Iraq," a British official said. "Iran is waging a war in Iraq. The idea that America can't fight a war on two fronts is wrong, there can be airstrikes and other moves," he said.

DETAILS OF 5 US SOLDIERS KILLED IN IRAQ

The following is a list of five US soldiers killed in Iraq. To get more details just click on the part in "BLUE."


U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
4013
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:
7
Total
4020

DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Apr 06, 2008
04/07/08 MNF: Update - Coalition Force Soldiers attacked in Diyala
A second Multi-National Division – North Soldier has died from wounds sustained in an IED attack in Diyala Province during convoy operations April 6. One Soldier was killed as previously reported and four others were wounded in the attack.

04/07/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed by an improvised-explosive device during a route-clearing patrol in eastern Baghdad April 6.

04/06/08 MNF: MND-C Soldier dies of Non-combat related injuries
A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier died from non-combat-related injuries April 6. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

04/06/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by rockets
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed from injuries sustained in an indirect fire attack at approximately 3:00 p.m. in eastern Baghdad April 6.

04/06/08 MNF: Coalition forces Soldier attacked by IED
A Coalition forces Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Diyala Province, April 6.

WILL GEN. PETRAEUS COMMENT ON ALL THESE US DEATHS AND VIOLENCE IN IRAQ WHEN HE APPEARS BEFORE CONGRESS TUESDAY?

General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, will be appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday and it will be interesting to see how he "spins" all the latest US deaths in Iraq as well as all the violence from Monday alone in Iraq and Afghanistan as listed here:

Source: http://warnewstoday.blogspot.com/
Ed. Note: Cliick on anything in "blue" to get more details.

War News for Monday, April 07, 2008
MNF-Iraq
is reporting the death of a Coalition forces Soldier in a roadside bombing in Diyala Province on Sunday, April 6th. No other details were released.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a second Multi-National Division – North Soldier in the roadside bombing in Diyala Province on Sunday, April 6th. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in an indirect fire attack in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Sunday, April 6th. No other details were released.

The Washington Post is reporting fourteen soldiers were wounded in the attack according to a U.S. military official.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division – Center Soldier from non-combat-related injuries in an undisclosed location in Iraq on Sunday, April 6th. No other details were released.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a roadside bombing in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Sunday, April 6th. No other details were released.

The Washington Post is reporting the deaths of two U.S. soldiers in an indirect fire attack in the green zone in central Baghdad Sunday, April 6th. In addition seventeen soldiers were wounded in the attack according to a U.S. military official.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: Fighting between Shiite militiamen and US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad's sprawling Sadr City district raged through the night, killing three people and wounding 36, officials said."There were sporadic clashes over the last 12 hours and three people have been killed and 36 others wounded," a medic at a local hospital said.

#2: An Australian soldier has been wounded in an insurgent rocket attack in central Baghdad which killed two Americans and wounded more than a dozen. Defence spokesman Brigadier Andrew Nikolic said the soldier was treated for his injuries at a US combat hospital and then discharged. No other Australians were wounded."

#3: mortar attacks on the fortified Green Zone that killed two soldiers and two US government staffers Iraqi officials said.

#4: In Baghdad, a student was shot dead by a sniper while he was standing in the playground of a school on Palestine Street in east Baghdad, according to witnesses. No further details were immediately available.

#5: A mortar bomb wounded three people in the Hay Ur district, in northern Baghdad, police said.

#6: Two seperate roadside bombs wounded 10 people including five policemen in the Zayyouna district, in eastern Baghdad, police said.

#7: A roadside bomb blast near a police patrol wounded five people in the New Baghdad district, in eastern Baghdad, police said.

#8: One mortar bomb landed on a sport club in eastern Baghdad, wounding two people, police said.

#9: Iraqi Army killed five militants and arrested 58 others during last 24 hours in different areas across Iraq, the Defence Ministry said.

#10: Around 9 a.m. a mortar shell hit the Green Zone.

#11: Around 2 p.m. a roadside bomb targeted a police vehicle in Al Mashtal injuring 5 policemen.

#12: Two mortar shells hit the air force soccer club in Palestine Street, causing no casualties.

Basra:#1: Iraqi security forces say a large explosion demolished a building in the southern city of Basra. At least three militants were killed and four were wounded. British military spokesman Maj. Tom Holloway says it's not clear what caused Monday's blast but insists no British, U.S. or Iraqi forces were involved. But an Iraqi police official and witnesses say the building was destroyed in an air strike. They say those killed were gunmen using the abandoned house as a base.An explosion destroyed a house in Iraq’s southern city of Basra overnight and Iraqi police said on Monday eight people had died.The Basra morgue received on Monday seven bodies showing signs of having been shot, a medic said, adding the corpses were brought by policemen from al-Asdiqaa neighborhood, 8 km north of Basra. "There were shrapnel that most probably caused the death of those seven people," the medic, who asked not to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#2: The interior ministry's operations chief, Maj. General Abdul-Karim Khalaf, escaped an attempt on his life when his motorcade came under an attack that wounded two of his escorts north of Basra on Monday, police said. "An improvised explosive device (IED) went off near Khalaf's motorcade in the area of al-Nashwa, (50 km) north of Basra, while he was heading for al-Qarna city," a security source who was escorting the motorcade told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#3: Seven men were killed in Al Asdiqa neighborhood (5 miles north of Basra).Samarra:#1: Gunmen killed a city council member in a drive-by shooting on Sunday just outside his house in central Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Hawija:#1: U.S. soldiers killed a civilian man and his son east of Dalouiya district, Salah al-Din province, on Monday, an official police source said. "U.S. soldiers raided the area of al-Huweija al-Bahariya, (3 km) west of Dalouiya, and opened fire at Abboud Hussein Yassin, 65, and his son Falah, from a close range, killing them instantly," the source, who refused to have his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq. A relative of Yassin told VOI a U.S. force "raided the house during the early hours of Monday with the company of a masked man. After they brought together all people in the house, the U.S. soldiers, referring to the two victims, asked the masked man whether they were the wanted men. The masked man replied in the affirmative and then the U.S. forces opened fire at the two of them."

Mosul:#1: Two policemen and a girl student were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near a police patrol in eastern Mosul on Monday, a security source said. "The girl, a student in a preparatory school, was walking near the patrol when the IED went off," the source, who declined to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

Afghanistan:#1: An Afghan governor says 16 people have been killed during strikes by U.S. and Afghan forces in northeastern Afghanistan. The strikes came as the troops were hunting for a fugitive militant leader. Gov. Tamim Nuristani says police have reached the site of Sunday's battle in the Dohabi district of Nuristan province. Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces believed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was meeting with another top militant there. Other provincial leaders say many civilians were killed in the hourslong clash. Nuristani said Monday it was too early to know if any of the 16 killed were civilians.An Afghan governor said on Monday that more than 20 militants were killed in a US-led operation in eastern Afghanistan, however, a regional lawmaker said that the dead were all civilians, including women and children.#2: TEN Taliban militants were killed after attacking an Afghan and NATO-led patrol in volatile southern Afghanistan, police said today. A firefight erupted after the Islamic militants attacked the combined forces in the southern province of Uruzgan on Sunday, provincial police chief Juma Gul Hemat said. "Our troops along with NATO forces were on a patrol when a group of enemies attacked us. We cornered the attackers and killed them,'' he said. One police officer was slightly injured in the fighting in Taliban-dominated Charchino district, he added.

IRAQI PM THREATENS TO BAN MUQTADA AL SADR IF HE DOESN'T DISBAND HIS ARMY

Who is the Iraqi Prime Minister trying to fool? He says he will ban Muqtada al-Sadr from the Iraqi government if Sadr doesn't disband his Mahdi Army.

Doesn't the Iraqi PM know that in the recent fight for Basra 1,000 of his Iraqi Army members "cut and ran" rather than stand and fight against the Mahdi Army and the US Army?

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned in an interview broadcast Monday that radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's movement will be sidelined from politics unless its feared militia is disbanded.

Sadr group to be barred if militia not disbanded: Iraq PM
by Jay Deshmukh 41 minutes ago
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080407/wl_mideast_afp/iraqunrest

The prime minister's comments to CNN follow two weeks of fighting between Sadr's Mahdi Army Shiite militia and the security forces that have killed hundreds and raised doubts over the capabilities of army and police units.
"A decision was taken ... that they no longer have a right to participate in the political process or take part in the upcoming elections unless they end the Mahdi Army," Maliki said in an interview with the television network.
Iraqi and US forces have been fighting Shiite militiamen, mostly from the Mahdi Army, since Maliki ordered a crackdown on "lawless gunmen" on March 25 in the southern city of Basra.
The fighting spread to other Shiite areas of Iraq, including Sadr City, the Mahdi Army's Baghdad bastion, from where according to the US military "criminals" have since the crackdown been launching rocket and mortar attacks on the fortified Green Zone.
Two US soldiers and two US government employees have been killed in the attacks on the Green Zone, seat of the Iraqi government and the US embassy, while another soldier was killed Sunday by a rocket at an east Baghdad US base.
Iraqi officials said fighting raged again overnight in Sadr City, killing three people and wounding 36.
The clashes, in which 20 people died on Sunday, has brought the impoverished district of two million people to a standstill, with the main market burnt out, water in short supply and electricity non-existent, residents said.
The fighting comes just two days before a massive anti-American protest on Wednesday in Sadr City called by Sadr.
The Sadr group expects at least a million protesters to attend the demonstration on the April 9 fifth anniversary of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime by invading US-led forces.
Maliki had initially given militiamen 72 hours when he launched the Basra crackdown and later offered a new April 8 deadline to local residents of the southern city to hand over medium and heavy weaponry in return for cash.
The fighting subsided on March 30 when Sadr called his fighters off the streets, but has continued sporadically in Basra, where eight people were killed overnight in a blast that destroyed a house, and in Sadr City.
Maliki told CNN he was determined to pursue militias across the country, including those in Sadr City.

VIDEO OF DAHR JAMAIL: IS THE US HEMORRAGHING FROM IRAQ, AND CAN IT GO TO WAR WITH IRAN

This video is of particular interest because on Tuesday General David Petraeus will appear before the Senate Foreign relations committee to talk about the status of Iraq, and he is also expected to make mention of the need to contain Iran.
Dahr Jamail, the award-winning journalist and author of "Beyond the Green Zone," fields a question from a member of the audience and then explains how the U.S. has 185,000 PRIVATE contractors in Iraq, firms like Blackwater,Haliburton and KRB, and he calls them the "coalition of the billing."
There are many inside the beltway in Washington who feel the Bush administration is already making plans to attack Iran and nothing Dahr Jamail says would lead you to believe otherwise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOcz1gt93hg

5 US SOLDIERS, 81 IRAQIS KILLED: 31 US SOLDIERS, 126 IRAQIS WOUNDED ON EVE OF GEN. PETRAEUS APPEARING BEFORE CONGRESS

At least five American soldiers were killed and another 31 were wounded in three separate attacks in Iraq today. Iraqis did not fare any better, with 81 Iraqis killed and 126 more wounded as well. Clashes in Baghdad were the cause of mose of the casualties. Also, 42 college students were kidnapped then released near Mosul.

All of this happened just just before General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker appear before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Tuesday to tell members of Congress about how well things are going in Iraq.

Sunday: 5 US Soldiers, 81 Iraqis Killed; 31 US Soldiers, 126 Iraqis Wounded Updated at 9:40 p.m. EDT, April 6, 2008

http://www.antiwar.com/updates/?articleid=12639

Two U.S. soldiers were killed and 17 more were wounded during a rocket or mortar attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad. In the southeastern neighborhood of Rustimiyah, another attack left one GI dead and 14 more injured. One American soldier was killed today during a roadside bombing in Diyala province. Also, one American soldier died from a non-combat incident.
Clashes between gunmen, U.S. forces, and Iraqi security in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City left
25 dead and 98 wounded. A helicopter strike caused nine more deaths. The U.S. army had been staging operations near Sadr City in hopes of reducing rocket and mortar attacks on the international Green Zone. These attacks escalated after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki implemented a crackdown on the Mahdi Army ahead of elections. In a separate event, mortars injured two policemen.
In Baghdad,
three Iraqi soldiers were injured in an roadside bomb attack in Zayouna. Mortars killed one civilian and wounded four others on Palestine Street; another shell injured two more. In Karradat Mariam, a shell injured five people. Mortars hit several more locations without creating casualties. Five dumped bodies were discovered.
Near Mosul, 42 kidnapped college students were
released after gunmen determined they were not part of a security force. Their bus had been stopped at a fake checkpoint on a highway leading to Baghdad. A second bus sped away from the fake checkpoint. Gunmen fired at it, wounding three students.
A mass grave near Muqdadiyah has now produced
15 bodies.
Al-Qaeda suspects
killed seven members of an Awakening Council (Sahwa) in Samarra.
In Buhriz,
one person was killed and four others were wounded during a roadside bombing.
A
female body bearing gunshot wounds was found near Kirkuk. Two bombs left no casualties.
Seven linemen were
kidnapped as they were repairing powerlines in Yathrib.
In Hilla, gunmen set a Sadrist office on fire, but
no casualties were reported.
The Iraqi army
killed 17 suspects and detained 51 others across Iraq.
Four al-Qaeda suspects were
arrested in Bani Saad.
A person was
kidnapped in Hawija.
A roadside bomb
blasted at truck in Baiji.
In Tikrit,
seven people were wounded by a roadside bomb.

US AIR STRIKE ON BASRA HOUSE KILLS 8 CIVILIANS

An explosion has completely destroyed a house in Iraq's southern city of Basra overnight, killing eight people, Iraqi police say. Neighbors said they believed the blast was caused by a US air strike, but British forces, responsible for US and British military activity in the area, denied any role and said they had no explanation for the blast.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=50585&sectionid=351020201

Rescue workers were pulling bodies from the rubble of the house completely destroyed.

Relatives wailed in grief and children picked through the rubble, Reuters reported. Basra has seen numerous US air strikes over the past two weeks since Iraqi security forces launched a recent crackdown on gunmen.

Scores of civilians including women and children were killed during the US air strikes.

FIRST VIDEO OF MORTAR ATTACK ON GREEN ZONE (WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE)

There was a mortar attack on the Green Zone on Sunday which killed 3 US soldiers and injured another 31. This Live Leak video shows a mortar attack on the Green Zone. Warning: The language is graphic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP0EqfWoPw0

IRAQ STUDY GROUP SAYS IRAQ IS STILL A "QUAGMIRE"

Despite a reduction in violence over the past 15 months, '’the U.S. risks getting bogged down in Iraq for a long time to come, with serious consequences for its interests in other parts of the world,’’ according to a new assessment by the same group of experts who advised the bipartisan blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group (ISG) in 2006.

Jim LobeWASHINGTON, Apr 7 (IPS)
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41880

The assessment, which was released on the eve of a critical Congressional testimony this week by Washington’s ambassador and chief military officer in Iraq, concludes that the decline in violence has resulted in very little progress toward achieving national reconciliation and that gains in security remain ‘’fragile and dependent on the presence of U.S. forces.’’

‘’Political progress is so slow, halting and superficial, and social and political fragmentation so pronounced that the U.S. is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago,’’ according to the report released by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and entitled ‘Iraq After the Surge: Options and Questions’.

‘’Lasting political development could take five to ten years of full, unconditional U.S. commitment to Iraq,’’ it concluded, noting that such a commitment already ‘’carries a massive cost, both human and financial, in addition to the global interests the U.S. is sacrificing to its commitment in Iraq. Even if progress in Iraq continues, the results may not be worth the cost,’’ it warned.

The report, which lays out three possible options for U.S. policy in Iraq over the next year or so, comes just two days before Amb. Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus are ask that Washington suspend its current drawdown of U.S. ‘’Surge’’ forces in Iraq at the anticipated 140,000-troop level by the end of July to ensure that security gains achieved over the past year can be sustained.

At the height of the Surge several months ago, Washington had about 170,000 troops in Iraq. That recommendation, which appears to enjoy the backing of U.S. President George W. Bush, is likely to be hotly disputed by Democrats in Congress who favour continuing to withdraw combat troops at the rate of about 5,000 a month through the end of the year -- a position privately shared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff who have fretted publicly that maintaining high levels of deployment in Iraq is taking an unsustainable toll on both the morale of U.S. ground forces and on their readiness to deal with other potential military crises.

The new USIP report, which represents the views of scores of military and regional experts who advised the bipartisan, Congressionally appointed Iraq Study Group (ISG) two years ago, will almost certainly give the dissenters ammunition in their questioning of Crocker and Petraeus. The ISG, which was co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, had called in December 2006 for withdrawing all U.S. combat troops by April 2008, leaving the remaining troops – around 80,000 – to focus on training and equipping Iraqi security forces, conducting operations against al Qaeda in Iraq, and protecting U.S. civilian personnel. Bush, however, rejected that recommendation and opted instead for a ‘’Surge’’ strategy that increased U.S. troop strength by about 30,000 in hopes that the additional forces would substantially reduce sectarian violence in and around Baghdad and encourage Iraq’s warring political and religious factions to make the compromises necessary for national reconciliation.
Click on link to read full account.

VIDEO FROM REAL NEWS: VIETNAM VET SAYS IRAQ IS LIKE VIETNAM WITHOUT THE WATER

Bill Crandell was a a platoon leader in 1967 when he was deployed to Vietnam. In this video from The Real News Network, Crandell, who gave the opening statement at the 1971 Winter Soldier's meeting in Detroit, compares the two wars and the stark similarities.

http://therealnews.com/web/index.php?thisdataswitch=0&thisid=1169&thisview=item