A spasm of violence seized the capital on Monday. Forty-six Iraqis were killed in six bombings across the city and a moderate Sunni Arab figure was gunned down by two men on motorcycles.
The American toll for October rose to 102, the highest since January 2005, with the military’s announcement of three more deaths.
In a single deadly strike, 33 Shiite laborers gathered around food stalls in a Sadr City square were killed when a bomb in a bag exploded at 6 a.m., scattering glasses of tea and remains of breakfasts. The workers had been waiting for offers of $10-a-day jobs.
The attacks continued as the American national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, met in Baghdad with Iraqi officials. He came to discuss the work of a committee set up by the leaders of the two governments on Sunday, whose aim includes giving Iraqis more control over their troops.
The attack in Sadr City came despite the American Army cordon that has been in place for a week in a search for a missing soldier, whom the military believes was taken there. It was the fifth bomb in the area, Al Mudhafar Square, where poor workers line up to seek work, said Haidar Said, a police captain on duty when the bomb exploded.
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Spate of Bombs Sweeps Baghdad; Cleric Faults U.S." in this morning's New York Times. Currently, the US troops fatality count in Iraq for the month is 103 and since the start of the illegal war it's 2816. On Hadley, John F. Burns and David E. Sanger report:
Though American officials would describe Mr. Hadley's talks only in the vaguest of terms, one option widely discussed in Washington and Baghdad in the days before his arrival, according to American and Iraqi officials, is a substantial increase in the number of American and Iraqi troops patrolling Baghdad. It would signal yet another effort to reassert control over the Iraqi capital, which officials in both governments said remains their top priority.
Those officials cautioned that no decision had been made about that option, which would amount to a third effort this year to contain the spreading violence in Baghdad. On Monday evening, J. D. Crouch, the deputy national security adviser, said Mr. Hadley was in Iraq to express support for the Iraqi government and warned, "He is not preconfiguring military options." Mr. Crouch added that he was "not aware" of anyone proposing an increase in American troops.
Other American officials said that such options have been informally discussed. They said that before any American forces in Baghdad could be increased, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq would have to deliver more Iraqi troops, who would patrol the streets of the capital along with the Americans and take the lead whenever possible.
More whack-a-mole? Hasn't worked out very well, has it? The 'crackdown' has been a disaster unless the object was to enflame and increase violence. More US troops to Baghdad right now means more US troops sent into the country. As for Iraq forces, Martha notes Amit R. Paley's "In Baghdad, a Force Under the Militias' Sway: Infiltration of Iraqi Police Could Delay Handover of Control for Years, U.S. Trainers Suggest" (Washington Post):
The top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., predicted last week that Iraqi security forces would be able to take control of the country in 12 to 18 months. But several days spent with American units training the Iraqi police illustrated why those soldiers on the ground believe it may take decades longer than Casey's assessment.
Seventy percent of the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by militias, primarily the Mahdi Army, according to Shaw and other military police trainers. Police officers are too terrified to patrol enormous swaths of the capital. And while there are some good cops, many have been assassinated or are considering quitting the force.
"None of the Iraqi police are working to make their country better," said Brig. Gen. Salah al-Ani, chief of police for the western half of Baghdad. "They're working for the militias or to put money in their pocket."
U.S. military reports on the Iraqi police often read like a who's who of the two main militias in Iraq: the Mahdi Army, also known as Jaish al-Mahdi or JAM, and the Badr Organization, also known as the Badr Brigade or Badr Corps.
One document on the Karrada district police chief says: "I strongly believe that he is a member of Badr Corps and tends to turn a blind eye to JAM activity." Another explains that the station commander in the al-Amil neighborhood "is afraid to report suspected militia members in his organization due to fear of reprisals."
American soldiers said that although they gather evidence of police ties to the militias and present it to Iraqi officials, no one has ever been criminally charged or even lost their jobs.
Reminder, war resister Kyle Snyder plans to turn himself in at Fort Knox today.
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