Monday, October 23, 2006

86 US troops killed in Iraq thus far (John Ward Anderson & Debbi Wilgoren)

At least 15 Iraqi police recruits were killed Sunday when two buses taking them to Baghdad were ambushed by insurgents north of the capital, a local police official said. Twenty-five recruits were injured in the attack, and 20 others were kidnapped, he said.
The U.S. military announced the deaths of seven soldiers and a Marine over the weekend, bringing the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month to at least 86 -- the fifth-highest total in any single month since the war began. Attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad have increased more than 4o percent since midsummer, U.S. military officials say. The only higher monthly tolls were 137 in November 2004, 135 in April 2004, 106 in January 2005, and 96 in October, 2005.

The above, noted by Martha, is from John Ward Anderson and Debbi Wilgoren's "15 Police Recruits Killed in Iraq; U.S. Death Toll for October Hits 86" (Washington Post). Staying on the same topic of violence on Sunday, we'll note this from Michael Luo's "13 Police Recruits Among 18 Iraqis Killed in Violence" (New York Times):

The ambush of the police recruits, by gunmen with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, occurred near the town of Muradiya, north of Baghdad, and left 13 recruits dead, an Interior Ministry official said.
It began with a roadside bomb that halted a police convoy, the official said. It bore the signs of the kind of sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq, particularly since the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra in February.
The recruits may have been members of the Mahdi Army, the biggest of the Shiite militias in the country, the Interior Ministry official said, but an American military official in nearby Baquba could not confirm that. Several of the recruits were missing and were believed to have been kidnapped.

On the eighteen killed Sunday in violence, Reuters alone (see previous entry) reported over 20. That's not counting the 55 corpses found in Baghdad and Mosul.

Lewis notes Dave Zirin's "Pat Tillman's Brother Breaks His Silence" (CounterPunch) and, after Zirin's introduction, Kevin Tillman's piece is available if you use the link:

When Pat Tillman, former NFL player and Army Ranger, died in Afghanistan in 2004, it unleashed a drama that moved from tragedy to obscenity to mystery.
First there was Pat's death. Because Tillman wasn't the kind of anonymous fallen soldier the Bush administration could blithely ignore, we all bore witness to the tears of his family--including his brother, best friend, and fellow Army Ranger, Kevin. Pat's death--like every last death that,s resulted from this horrific Middle Eastern escapade--was tragedy. Then came obscenity: it came out after Pat's funeral, that he had died at the hands of his own troops in a case of "friendly fire". This bit of information was suppressed from everyone outside the Pentagon and Oval Office even from Pat's family. It was even kept from Kevin, serving in Pat's battalion. Eulogists like John McCain--knowingly or unknowingly--told lies over Pat Tillman's body about death in combat. Bush gave a speech about Tillman over the jumbotron at football stadiums. He was given the Silver Star--a merit for combat, not friendly fire. From the perspective of this administration, Pat died for the noble cause of PR.
Finally from obscenity sprung mystery. For Pat's parents Mary and Pat, Sr. there were unanswered questions.
Why were they fed lies?
Why were Pat's clothes and equipment burned at the scene?
Why wasn't Kevin told the truth at the scene?
What happened to Pat's journal, that he had kept with him for years?
To pressure army investigators, Mary and Pat, Sr. went public about Pat's true feelings about the war in Iraq (he thought it was illegal) and his growing questioning about the Bush "war on terror."
Now Pat's brother Kevin has broken his silence as well. Kevin has written a brilliant piece that should be distributed in front of every army recruitment center and sent to every person who wears the uniform.

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