A bill that would extend the life of the federal agency that oversees billions of dollars of reconstruction money in Iraq appeared headed to passage after a key House Republican dropped his opposition on Thursday and declared that he would vote for the bill.
[. . .]
Some degree of American financial assistance is likely to flow to Iraq for as long as American troops are stationed there. But that kind of extension for the agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, had been opposed by Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who recently declared himself a likely candidate for president in 2008.
In October, members of Mr. Duncan's staff inserted an obscure provision into a huge defense authorization bill that would force the inspector general’s office to begin shutting down almost immediately. Because the office, led by a Republican lawyer, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., has repeatedly uncovered instances of wasted money, shoddy construction and criminal fraud in the rebuilding program, the move caused an outcry among Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
The above is from James Glanz' "With Foe's Change of Heart, Iraq Watchdog Is Likely to Survive" in this morning's New York Times. The above matters and thankfully, it's not yet another James Baker Circle Jerk article. Violence did continue in Iraq. Thomas Wagner (AP) was able to cover it. Who knows, maybe today Reuters will remember that off the printed pages of the James Baker Circle Jerk, a nation is in crisis, civil war, and that violence continues?
Or maybe not. Martha notes Nancy Trejos' "Wednesday's Toll for U.S. Troops in Iraq Rises to 11" (Washington Post) which does remember that beyond the Beltway, life and death continue:
Civilian casualties also continued to mount Thursday, as 52 bodies were found across Baghdad in a 24-hour period, an Interior Ministry source said. All had gunshot wounds, nine had been beheaded and many bore signs of torture. Five of the victims were women, the source said.
Officials have attributed the surge in U.S. military deaths to stepped-up efforts to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad and a continuing campaign against insurgents in Anbar province.
On Thursday, the military released more details about the deaths. "It was a variety of events and a variety of operations," said Lt. Christopher C. Garver, a U.S. military spokesman.
Most of the casualties were in Anbar. Three soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, one Marine from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group and one Marine from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Force died of wounds suffered in enemy action. Another Marine from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died of nonhostile causes.
Five soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division were killed by a roadside bomb during combat operations in Kirkuk province, north of Baghdad, the military reported.
The US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in the Iraqi capital Thursday. The combat patrol was conducting joint operations with the Iraqi Army to prevent sectarian violence in a western neighborhood of the city when the bomb exploded near one of their vehicles."
And guess what? I'm not going to attempt to tease out news of Iraq. There's nearly none. It's wall-to-wall James Baker Circle Jerk. We've got two things for the next entry, I'll go through some more e-mails but otherwise that will be it.
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