Sunday, April 13, 2008


Whenever the Bush White House wants to sell a point to the American public they turn to their propaganda branch, FOX NEWS.

FOX NEWS has been chomping at the bit to go to war with IRAN and on Sunday Chris Wallace interviewed Stephen Hadley from the Bush White House on "Fox News Sunday."

Hadley lived up to continuing the drumbeat for war with IRAN and Chris Wallace was complicit in never stopping to question Hadley on where are all the troops going to come from to fight a war with IRAN when we don't have enough troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Editorial comment: The Bush White House and FOX NEWS will not be happy until we are at war with IRAN.

Stephen Hadley: Iran a threat in Iraq
Hadley Says US Still Has 'More Work to Do' in Iraq in Stemming Iran

Apr 13, 2008 18:46 EST

With al-Qaida's influence diminishing in Iraq, U.S. troops have much work to do in stemming Iranian support for militias, President Bush's national security adviser said Sunday.

"Iran is very active in the southern part of Iraq. They are training Iraqis in Iran who come into Iraq and attack our forces, Iraqi forces, Iraqi civilians. There are movements of equipment.

There's movements of funds," Stephen Hadley said. "So we have illegal militia in the southern part of the country that really are acting as criminal elements that are pressing the people down there."

"Al-Qaida, they're on the defensive," he added, citing the illegal militias as an emerging threat. The prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, "decided it was time to take control of the situation down there. ... He's had some success. He's taken control of the port (in Basra). But there's more work to do."

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. will be as aggressive as possible to counter the increase in Iranian support for militias. He said the Iraqis "are in a position themselves to bring some pressures to bear on Iran."

"I think that one of the interesting developments of Prime Minister Maliki's offensive in Basra is that it has revealed to the Shia, particularly, in the Iraqi government, the level of Iranian malign influence in the south and on their economic heartline through Basra," Gates said in an interview aired Sunday.

"And so I think what has happened is that the hand of Iran has been exposed, in a way that perhaps it had not been before, to some of the Iraqi government," he said.

Gates also has acknowledged that future troop withdrawals will go more slowly than he had initially hoped last year. He told a Senate panel he expects Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in the war, to be able to make an assessment of further drawdowns by mid-September.

In the broadcast interview, Gates played down concerns that an extended U.S. presence in Iraq might lead to a confrontation with Iran.

"I think the chances of us stumbling into a confrontation with Iran are very low," he said. "We are concerned about their activities in the south. We are concerned about the weapons that they continue to send in to Iraq. But I think that the process that's under way is, as I said, headed in the right direction."

Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was struck during last week's hearings by the repeated references to Iran.

"Iran kept being mentioned. The fact that the Iranians are intruding," he said. "It was almost as if we were justifying our continued presence in Iraq with the fact that we may be in a conflict with Iran, and furthermore, the al-Qaida, wherever they may be. It's a very confusing picture to say the least."

"Because, essentially, we did not get into the overall status of our armed forces, our economy, and our ability to pay for this, quite apart from exactly who enemy is, what the priorities are, in terms of our expenditure of forces and money," Lugar said.

Hadley spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Lugar appeared on CNN's "Late Edition," while Gates and Pelosi taped interviews Friday that were broadcast Sunday on "Face the Nation" on CBS.
Source: AP News


U.S. military: "Air weapons team" fired missile after seeing militants planting bombs
One U.S. soldiers suffered hearing loss, another had a broken leg

1,300 police, soldiers dismissed for negligence, refusing to fight, spokesman says
About 900 were stationed in Basra, where a crackdown on Shiite strongholds began

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. missile overshot its target and struck a troop vehicle, injuring two U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi civilians, and setting houses on fire in eastern Baghdad, the military said.

Most of the dismissed police and soldiers were in Basra, where a commando is seen directing traffic last month.

The accidental strike on the U.S. vehicle came Saturday as U.S. and Iraqi security forces battled Shiite militants in the capital, fighting that continued into Sunday.
An "air weapons team" spotted militants setting up roadside bombs in the New Baghdad district Saturday afternoon and launched a Hellfire missile, the military said.

Fighting erupted more than a week ago as the coalition forces worked to stop roadside bombings and rockets that are being launched toward central Baghdad's International Zone. Watch how fighting continues in Sadr City »

The Hellfire missile fired by the U.S. military "overshot its intended target and struck a coalition forces vehicle, starting it and nearby houses on fire," the military said.


At least 45 Iraqis were killed and 29 were wounded in the latest violence. Sadr City finally quieted down after a couple weeks of intense fighting. No Coalition deaths were reported, but at least two Coalition soldiers were injured during a friendly fire incident in Baghdad.

In Baghdad, four men were seen planting a roadside bomb in New Baghdad. A U.S. air strike killed two of the suspects. A second missile was shot at the remaining men but missed them and instead hit a Coalition vehicle and residential housing. Three Iraqis and two Coalition soldiers were wounded in the incident, while the two gunmen fled.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, two bombs were safely defused. An IED injured two policemen in Karrada. Two dumped bodies were found. Meanwhile, three gunmen were killed and 14 were detained, while one Iraqi soldier was killed and five more were wounded during security operations.

Fighting finally eased in Sadr City a day after Sadrist officials in Najaf advised the Mahdi militia to avoid confrontations with Iraqi or Coalition troops. Although a blockade of the city was to have been lifted entirely yesterday, Iraqi forces were still blocking some exits.

A bomb on an oil truck at a Mosul checkpoint left two dead and 10 wounded. Also, a beheaded corpse was found yesterday.

An Awakening Council (Sahwa) member was killed and another was wounded during a roadside bomb attack near Kirkuk. Another Sahwa member was killed in another bombing incident near town. At least three other Sahwa members were wounded during another incident. Another bomb left no injuries near the health directorate. Also, one dumped body was found.
In Khalis, a man was killed, while his wife and child were wounded.
A bomb killed one person and wounded another in Abu Saida.
In Baquba, a civilian was killed.
Someone planted a bomb in a car belonging to a Fallujah town council deputy chief. He and his 11-year-old son were seriously injured.
In Basra, a policeman was gunned down and two bodies were found. A local al-Qaeda leader was captured. Fourteen suspects were also detained.
As many as 13 al-Qaeda suspects were killed during a joint Iraqi-U.S. raid on their camp near Tikrit.
In Baiji, 11 suspects were killed. One of the suspects blew himself up and injured five U.S. soldiers.
One suspect was killed and 11 were captured in northern Iraq.
Three suspects were detained near Balad. One of them, an Iraqi, is thought to be an Iranian intelligence operative.
Near Kut, a vehicle containing weapons was seized.
Also, 1300 policemen were fired from their jobs in Basra and Wassit provinces due to their actions during the "security crackdown" last month.


George W. Bush and Dick Cheney initially rejected the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, which advised that Iraq could not be solved militarily and that regional diplomacy and engagement would be necessary. Bush chose instead to pursue an escalation of the war, which he euphemistically called a 'surge.'

This tactic backfired when Bush inadvertently allowed the ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis of Baghdad, turning the capital into a playground for the Shiite Mahdi Army.

As a result of the Shiitization of Baghdad, violence in the city thereafter declined, since there were fewer Sunnis around to kill (many were cowering in Damascus). The US achieved a ceasefire with the Mahdi Army (and why not, since the US military was disarming its enemies and allowing it to then chase them off to Syria?)Moreover, Baghdad was only one hot spot in a very complicated country, and security continued to deteriorate in the Kurdish north along the Turkish border and in the southern Shiite oil port of Basra, as I argue in an op-ed today in the Boston Globe.Even the temporary reduction in violence was more modest than the US press tended to assume. And the death rate may have reached its nadir and begun climbing back up now that the extra troops are being withdrawn.

As David Fiderer pointed out, that outcome is precisely what the ISG report predicted.So now it turns out that recently General David Petraeus has been doing regional diplomacy in an attempt to get local regimes to cooperate in cutting the flow of foreign fighters, money and arms to Iraq. In other words, the military escalation, which is now getting to be over with, did not do the trick. So the only alternative is to go back to the Baker Hamilton Commission
recommendations.Question: How far ahead of the game would we be if this regional diplomacy had started in December of 2006 instead of being dismissed by Bush and Cheney in favor of a set of purely military tactics?Another question: Why not also talk to Iran?Likewise, the ISG pointed out that the Badr Corps paramilitary was trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and is close to Tehran. (See below). It fought on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's side in the recent Basra fighting. In other words, the government side was the pro-Iranian side.

The Mahdi Army and Sadr neighborhood militia forces they attacked were largely Iraqi nativists who bad-mouth Iran. Fiderer points out that the ISG report had already diagnosed this syndrome. The Bush team did propaganda, pointedly declining to name Badr as an Iranian client and blaming Iran for the Mahdi Army's violence. In fact, the violence came as a response to violations of the cease fire by the US and the Iraqi government, which took advantage of it to arrest Mahdi Army commanders (that's a ceasefire?)


BAGHDAD, April 12 (Reuters) - Huddled in her house in the Baghdad Shi'ite slum of Sadr City, Salwa Naser recited prayers as gunfire echoed outside.

Baghdad slum residents endure street battle hell
Wisam MohammedReuters North American News ServiceApr 12, 2008 06:34 EST

"My God, my God," the 24-year-old teacher pleaded, "make their fire against us like water."
She is one of 2 million residents of the sprawling district on the eastern edge of Baghdad that in recent weeks has seen some of the worst street battles in the Iraqi capital since U.S. forces drove Saddam Hussein from power in 2003.

Late last month, the government launched a crackdown on the Mehdi Army militia of anti-U.S. Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the southern city of Basra.

The clashes, in which hundreds of people were killed, quickly spread north to Sadr's stronghold in eastern Baghdad, turning it into a key front in the five-year-old Iraq conflict.

For weeks, masked militiamen loyal to Sadr have roamed the streets, firing on U.S. and Iraqi patrols and sustaining nightly missile strikes from U.S. drone aircraft.

The continuous fighting has turned daily life for many of the slum's residents into a living hell.
"Our suffering starts at night when the Mehdi Army fighters sneak around the narrow streets and we fear air strikes could happen any minute," said Laith Majeed, 22, a university student.

"The innocent people are always the victims. We cannot sleep at night and we're losing patience. These are the worst days I have lived and I don't think life will ever get back to normal."

As if gunfire, mortars and missiles were not enough, Sadr City has been under a vehicle blockade for the past two weeks that has led to shortages of medicine and soaring food prices.
The blockade was partly lifted on Saturday, allowing some Iraqis who had stayed away since late last month to return.

Muhammad Munthir, a doctor who lives outside Sadr City but works at one of its two hospitals, did not dare enter the slum during the blockade for fear of U.S. air strikes.

Imam Ali hospital, where he returned to work on Saturday, and Sadr hospital on the slum's eastern edge, have treated hundreds of wounded in the past week.

More than one hundred people, including Mehdi Army fighters and civilians, have been killed in Sadr City since Sunday.

Click on link to read more.


BAGHDAD, April 13 (Reuters) - Iraq's cabinet has agreed a draft law on provincial elections that bans any party from the polls if they have militias, officials said on Sunday, a move that could inflame tensions with Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Dean YatesReuters North American News ServiceApr 13, 2008 09:43 EST


The night before last week’s Senate hearings on our “progress” in Iraq, a goodly chunk of New York’s media and cultural establishment assembled in the vast lobby of the Museum of Modern Art. There were cocktails; there were waiters wielding platters of hors d’oeuvres; there was a light sprinkling of paparazzi. Then there was a screening. We trooped like schoolchildren to the auditorium to watch a grueling movie about the torture at Abu Ghraib.

By Frank Rich, The New York TimesPosted on April 13, 2008, Printed on April 13, 2008

Not just any movie, but “Standard Operating Procedure,” the new investigatory documentary by Errol Morris, one of our most original filmmakers. It asks the audience not just to revisit the crimes in graphic detail but to confront in tight close-up those who both perpetrated and photographed them. Because Mr. Morris has a complex view of human nature, he arouses a certain sympathy for his subjects, much as he did at times for Robert McNamara, the former defense secretary, in his Vietnam film, “Fog of War.”

More sympathy, actually. Only a few bad apples at the bottom of the chain of command took the fall for Abu Ghraib. No one above the level of staff sergeant went to jail, and no one remotely in proximity to a secretary of defense has been held officially accountable. John Yoo, the author of the notorious 2003 Justice Department memo rationalizing torture, has happily returned to his tenured position as a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. So when Mr. Morris brings you face to face with Lynndie England — now a worn, dead-eyed semblance of the exuberant, almost pixie-ish miscreant in the Abu Ghraib snapshots — you’re torn.

Ms. England, who is now on parole, concedes that what she and her cohort did was “unusual and weird and wrong,” but adds that “when we first got there, the example was already set.” That reflection doesn’t absolve her of moral responsibility, but, like much in this film, it forces you to look beyond the fixed images of one of the most documented horror stories of our time.
Yet I must confess that, sitting in MoMA, I kept looking beyond the frame of Mr. Morris’s movie as well. While there’s really no right place to watch “Standard Operating Procedure,” the jarring contrast between the film’s subject and the screening’s grandiosity was a particularly glaring illustration of the huge distance that separates most Americans, and not just Manhattan elites, from the battle lines of our country’s five-year war. If Tom Wolfe was not in the audience to chronicle this cognitive dissonance, he should have been.

Mr. Morris’s movie starts fanning out to theaters on April 25. We don’t have to wait until then to know its fate. Sympathetic critics will tell us it’s our civic duty to see it. The usual suspects will try to besmirch Mr. Morris’s patriotism. But none of that will much matter. “Standard Operating Procedure” will reach the director’s avid core audience, but it is likely to be avoided by most everyone else no matter what praise or controversy it whips up.

It would take another column to list all the movies and TV shows about Iraq that have gone belly up at the box office or in Nielsen ratings in the nearly four years since the war’s only breakout commercial success, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” They die regardless of their quality or stand on the war, whether they star Tommy Lee Jones (“In the Valley of Elah”) or Meryl Streep (“Lions for Lambs”) or are produced by Steven Bochco (the FX series “Over There”) or are marketed like Abercrombie & Fitch apparel to the MTV young (“Stop-Loss”).

As The New York Times recently reported, box-office dread has driven one Hollywood distributor to repeatedly postpone the release of “The Lucky Ones,” a highly regarded and sympathetic feature about the war’s veterans, the first made with full Army assistance, even though the word Iraq is never spoken and the sole battle sequence runs 40 seconds. If Iraq had been mentioned in “Knocked Up” or “Superbad,” Judd Apatow’s hilarious hit comedies about young American guys who (like most of their peers) never consider the volunteer Army as an option, they might have flopped too. Iraq is to moviegoers what garlic is to vampires.
This is not merely a showbiz phenomenon but a leading indicator of where our entire culture is right now. It’s not just torture we want to avoid. Most Americans don’t want to hear, see or feel anything about Iraq, whether they support the war or oppose it. They want to look away, period, and have been doing so for some time.

That’s why last week’s testimony by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker was a nonevent beyond Washington. The cable networks duly presented the first day of hearings, but only, it seemed, because the show could be hyped as an “American Idol”-like competition in foreign-policy one-upmanship for the three remaining presidential candidates, all senators. When the hearings migrated to the House the next day, they vanished into the same black media hole where nearly all Iraq news now goes. If the Olympic torch hadn’t provided an excuse to cut away, no doubt any handy weather disturbance would have served instead.

The simple explanation for why we shun the war is that it has gone so badly. But another answer was provided in the hearings by Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, one of the growing number of Republican lawmakers who no longer bothers to hide his exasperation. He put his finger on the collective sense of shame (not to be confused with collective guilt) that has attended America’s Iraq project. “The truth of the matter,” Mr. Voinovich said, is that “we haven’t sacrificed one darn bit in this war, not one. Never been asked to pay for a dime, except for the people that we lost.”

This is how the war planners wanted it, of course. No new taxes, no draft, no photos of coffins, no inconveniences that might compel voters to ask tough questions. This strategy would have worked if the war had been the promised cakewalk. But now it has backfired. A home front that has not been asked to invest directly in a war, that has subcontracted it to a relatively small group of volunteers, can hardly be expected to feel it has a stake in the outcome five stalemated years on.

The original stakes (saving the world from mushroom clouds and an alleged ally of Osama bin Laden) evaporated so far back they seem to belong to another war entirely. What are the stakes we are asked to believe in now? In the largely unwatched House hearings on Wednesday, Representative Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat, tried to get at this by asking what some 4,000 “sons and daughters” of America had died for
The best General Petraeus could muster was a bit of bloodless Beltway-speak — “national interests” — followed by another halfhearted attempt to overstate Iraq’s centrality to the war on Al Qaeda and a future war on Iran. He couldn’t even argue that we’re on a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Iraqi people. That would require him to acknowledge that roughly five million of those people, 60 percent of them children, are now refugees receiving scant help from either our government or Nuri al-Maliki’s. That’s nearly a fifth of the Iraqi population — the equivalent of 60 million Americans — and another source of our shame.

Click on link to read full Frank Rich article.


1,300 Iraqi troops, police dismissed

By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer 27 minutes ago;_ylt=AvoChYykbTVcNtcxOrJmPspX6GMA

BAGHDAD - Iraq's government moved Sunday to restore discipline within the ranks of the security forces, sacking more than 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted during recent fighting against Shiite militias in Basra.

At the same time, Iraq's Cabinet ratcheted up the pressure on anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr by approving draft legislation barring political parties with militias from participating in upcoming provincial elections.

Al-Sadr, who heads the country's biggest militia, the Mahdi Army, has been under intense pressure from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, also a Shiite, to disband the Mahdi Army or face political isolation.

Al-Sadr's followers are eager to take part in the local elections because they believe they can take power away from rival Shiite parties in the vast, oil-rich Shiite heartland of southern Iraq.
And in a new move to stem the flow of money to armed groups, the government ordered a crackdown on militiamen controlling state-run and private gas stations, refineries and oil distribution centers.


Iraqis, U.S. Intensify Actions in Sadr City

By Sholnn FreemanWashington Post Foreign ServiceSunday, April 13, 2008; A15

BAGHDAD, April 12 -- Iraqi and U.S. military forces on Saturday pushed deeper into the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, an area largely controlled by Shiite militiamen loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

A curfew imposed on Sadr City more than a week ago was lifted, and residents appeared on the streets as shops reopened, despite the large presence of U.S. and Iraqi security forces.

Leaders of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia reported that U.S. and Iraqi forces had split the area into at least two sections and were placing concrete barriers at a major intersection. American and Iraqi snipers patrolled from the rooftops of nearby buildings.

The Mahdi Army leaders also said Iraqi and American security forces had massed outside a home in Sadr City where a memorial service was being held for cleric Riyadh al-Nouri, a senior Sadr aide assassinated in the holy city of Najaf on Friday.

"The siege is still on," said Abu Haider, a Mahdi Army leader in Sadr City.

Abu Haider called the cancellation of the curfew a propaganda ploy and said government forces had opened just one entrance point for traffic into Sadr City, home to an estimated 2 million people.

Click on link to read full Washington Post story.


Sadr City fighting rages for seventh day

Story Highlights
NEW: Rocket or mortar fire in Baghdad's Green Zone, but no casualties
NEW: Government warns of roadside bombs planted in Sadr City
NEW: Vehicle ban reportedly lifted in some areas
Fighting between Shiite militias and U.S. and Iraqi forces into its seventh day

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Shiite militias fought U.S. and Iraqi forces in Sadr City, Baghdad, for a seventh day Saturday and a vehicle ban continued to frustrate residents, driven indoors for a week by the battles.

Rocket or mortar fire also struck the Green Zone, the heavily secured neighborhood that is the U.S. seat of power, but no casualities were reported, the U.S. Embassy said.

The U.S.-backed Iraqi troops are fighting the Mehdi Army militia -- which is loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- in the sprawling, crowded Baghdad slum.

Witnesses said U.S. aircraft bombarded the area for hours, while media reported rockets slamming into houses and many casualties.

At least 13 people were killed by U.S. and Iraqi forces in various confrontations Friday, the U.S. military said. An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said at least nine people were killed and 22 others wounded. Watch the aerial view from a U.S. drone targeting insurgents on the ground »

Authorities had planned to lift the vehicle ban in Baghdad at 6 a.m. Saturday amid concerns that the curfew was causing a humanitarian crisis, but residents complain the strictures are still in place.

Iraq's Interior Ministry, however, said the ban has been lifted in some areas, and witnesses said a vehicle entry point into Sadr City has been opened.

Witnesses and al-Sadr's office said loudspeaker announcements broadcast from mosques offered updates about Mehdi Army attacks on U.S. military vehicles.

The U.S. military said no U.S. or Iraqi troops were seriously hurt in the fighting. However, a U.S. soldier was killed Saturday by a roadside bomb elsewhere in Baghdad, the military said.

Authorities warned Sadr City residents to be careful if they ventured into the streets.


The military services face the toughest recruiting environment in a generation, as the most recent data shows interest in military service at its lowest level in more than 25 years.

By Andrew Tilghman - Staff writerPosted : Saturday Apr 12, 2008 15:29:41 EDT

Internal Defense Department surveys tracking the opinions of potential recruits — mostly young men ages 16 to 21 — show the inclination toward military service has fallen dramatically since the end of the Cold War, with an exceptionally rapid nosedive since 2004.

A long-term downward trend reversed briefly after Sept. 11, 2001, up until the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But that bump has disappeared, as young men are less drawn to serve in uniform than at any time since the earliest days of the volunteer force a generation ago.

“You have a big demographic shift happening,” said Peter Singer, head of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “The future is going to hinge to the question of whether our recruiting and personnel systems can make the shifts that are necessary to recruit and retain and inspire this new generation.”

For decades, the Defense Department has tracked youth attitudes by conducting detailed surveys about who wants to enlist and why. The surveys help uniformed recruiters, and the civilian advertising firms who work with them, to effectively identify and win over the best people for the active-duty force.

The critical question on the survey is: “How likely is it that you will be serving in the military in the next few years?” The number of young men answering “definitely” or “probably” has dropped from a consistent level of more than 25 percent in the late 1980s to about 13 percent today, according to Pentagon documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.


The correspondents, producers and camerman of the Reuters News service produced this excellent video showing five years of the Iraq war.


IRAQ: From One Dictator to the Next

Analysis by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*BAGHDAD, Apr 12 (IPS)

Many Iraqis have come to believe that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is just as much a dictator as Saddam Hussein was."Al-Maliki is a dictator who must be removed by all means," 35-year-old Abdul-Riza Hussein, a Mehdi Army member from Sadr City in Baghdad told IPS.

"He is a worse dictator than Saddam; he has killed in less than two years more than Saddam killed in 10 years."

Following the failed attempt by the U.S.-backed al-Maliki to crack down on the Mehdi Army militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the situation in Iraq has become much worse. Iraq appears to be splintering more widely under this rule than under Saddam's.

Fierce fighting has broken out between Sadr's Mehdi Army and Maliki's army and police forces in Baghdad, which comprise mostly the Badr Organisation militia, the armed wing of the political group, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC). According to statistics compiled by the U.S. military in Baghdad, there has been a sharp increase in attacks against U.S. and Iraqi security forces, from 239 in February to 631 in March.

Most of these attacks are believed to have been carried out by the Mehdi Army. The Mehdi Army is known to have substantial control of the streets of Baghdad, Basra, and many other predominantly Shia areas in southern Iraq. But there is also considerable Shia support for Maliki's effort to disarm the Mehdi Army.

"Those who shout loud against Maliki and his legally elected government are all thieves and murderers and must be executed," says Aziz Mussawi, a resident of Hilla, 100km south of Baghdad, who fled for Baghdad when the clashes started there last month. "These militias will destroy Iraq if left unleashed."


The latest congressional hearings on Iraq provided more gloomy evidence that we’ll be stuck in the quagmire for a long time, no matter who wins the presidency.
By Bill Boyarsky

No doubt Sen. John McCain, unabashed believer in the “surge,” would keep us there much longer than either of his Democratic opponents. Asked in January how long we should remain in Iraq, he said, “Maybe a hundred [years]. ... We’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea for 50 years. ... As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, then it’s fine with me. ...”

But Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren’t especially comforting when they discussed withdrawal as if it were a process that would take a while.

Clinton said at Wednesday’s Senate hearing she “thinks it’s time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops, start rebuilding our military and focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, the global terrorist groups and other problems that confront Americans.”

When it was his turn to speak, Obama called again for “a timetable for withdrawal.” He said that “[n]obody’s asking for a precipitous withdrawal” but there should be pressure on the Iraq government to strengthen itself militarily, politically and fiscally. And there should be “a diplomatic surge that includes Iran.”

They were cautious, seemingly wary of the calm and reasonable-sounding Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker as they tried to find out when the troops would leave. “At what point do we say enough?” asked Obama.


The Stars and Stripes Web site appears to have been struck by a hacker early Saturday.

Stars and Stripes is the newspaper which has been around for decades and reports on the latest happenings in the United States military.

Indications are that this may have been related to an automated cyber-attack launched last month that compromised more than 10,000 web pages, including everyday destinations such as travel, government and hobby sites. Such attacks typically plant a piece of Javascript code that diverts users to a site in China, where malicious software ("malware") tries to break into the user's computer.

Security experts have noticed a recent trend in which hackers target individual computers rather than better-protected networks. The problem on the Stripes site has been resolved. Users who tried to visit the site between midnight and 9 a.m. on Saturday Eastern time, or experienced any difficulties accessing in the past couple of days, are encouraged to update and run their anti-virus scan programs.

More information about malware can be found at such sites as and, or at the sites of such security companies as McAfee and Symantec.


This short video is needed now more than ever since the mainstream media has chosen to forget about our brave young men and women serving in the military. Take a moment to watch and the next time you see someone in the uniform of the United States military you might want to show them your appreciation: