The threat of a walkout by Iraq's leading Sunni bloc in Parliament and the cabinet seemed to subside Tuesday after a meeting between Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, and Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni.
But Iraq's violence continued. A suicide car bomber killed at least 16 people near the main mosque in Kufa that Moktada al-Sadr has used to deliver his Friday sermons. It was the third car bombing in a month near a revered Shiite shrine in southern Iraq.
And residents in Baquba said that an American helicopter fired on a group of school students, killing as many as seven. Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman, confirmed that there was helicopter activity in the area and said that the accusations were being investigated.
The United States military also announced that two soldiers died Tuesday when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle southeast of Baghdad.
The above is from Damien Cave's "Meeting May Lessen Threat Of a Sunni Boycott in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times and it's the only thing worth reading in full. (That may seem less noteworthy on a day when Gordo pops up again, but it's a strong article on any day.) Meanwhile, our "Free Man in Paris" is less "unfettered" (and less "alive"?): Paul von Zielbauer lands a dateline! Camp Pendleton! "Officer Says Civilian Toll In Haditha Was a Shock" which works up a lather for Randy Stone (von Zielbauer has been doing that quite often of late) who is the midst of a an Article 32 hearing (pre-trial) to determine whether or not he should be court-martialed. PvZ is scrubbing Randy so good, a charge falls off!
PvZ tells you that Stone is "one of four Marine officers charged with dereliction of duty for failing to properly investigate the deaths of two dozen civilians in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005." He forgets the charge about violating a lawful order -- by accident, we're sure. Can't lather up Randy like that without something slipping out of your hands, to be sure.
Stone is not accused in taking part in the slaughter (he wasn't even there when it began), he is accused of failure to obey a lawful order and of dereliction of duty. PvZ notes this in paragraph six about the corss examination of William T. Kallop who is testifying after being granted immunity -- here the prosecution is asking about Frank D. Wuterich:
"Did he tell you that he had left two wounded children in that house?" the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan asked Lieutenant Kallop, referring to Sergeant Wuterich. "Did he tell you that he had killed a child? Did he tell you that hat there was a woman at the bottom of the stairs that they had killed?"
[. . .]
"Did he say anything," Colonel Sullivan later asked, "about the five children in the back bedroom being killed on the bed" in the second house?
Martha notes Ann Scott Tyson's "Commanders in Iraq See 'Surge' Into '08" (Washington Post):
The Pentagon announced yesterday that 35,000 soldiers in 10 Army combat brigades will begin deploying to Iraq in August as replacements, making it possible to sustain the increase of U.S. troops there until at least the end of this year.
U.S. commanders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that heightened troop levels, announced by President Bush in January, will need to last into the spring of 2008. The military has said it would assess in September how well its counterinsurgency strategy, intended to pacify Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, is working.
"The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure," said Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq. The new requirement of up to 15-month tours for active-duty soldiers will allow the troop increase to last until spring, said Odierno, who favors keeping experienced forces in place for now.
"What I am trying to do is to get until April so we can decide whether to keep it going or not," he said in an interview in Baghdad last week. "Are we making progress? If we're not making any progress, we need to change our strategy. If we're making progress, then we need to make a decision on whether we continue to surge."
Just trying to get through 'til April. What a strategy. Let's note something, in fairness, about Nancy and Harry and all the others making up the Dolittle Dems family. What the lt. general testified to -- how is that different from what they're proposing in terms of funding? Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny's "House Democrats Push Plan To Finance Iraq War in Stages" (New York Times) features the usual show of cowards and pseudo-outraged. They're getting slammed for many things (as they should). But in terms of scheduling stages for funding, right or wrong, that's not at all different in terms of the way the US military is evaluating their actions currently.
Congress needs to cut off funding. I'm not suggesting they don't. I am saying little whiners like Adam H. Putman (House Rep quoted in the paper: "It is unconscionable to think that they want to fund a war 60 days at a time") need to explain exactly what the difference is? What's so different about what Congressional leaders are proposing and the way the US military is conducting itself?
It would also be great if someone in Congress could issue a statement decrying Tony Snow (White House flack) and the administration's attempts to "micro-manage" Congress. Snow's quoted in the article declaring it "bad management" for Congress to fund from period to period. (They already do that. The periods would just be shorter.) This coming from a White House that screams "They're trying to micromanage me!" every time Congress excercises any of its Constitutional power. One would assume Snow has enough on his plate without attempting to tell Congress how to do its job. (As a citizen, Snow has every right to criticize Congress. He wasn't speaking as an individual citizen, he was speaking on behalf of the White House.)
For more thoughts on the slaughter of children -- mowed down by fire from a US helicopter yesterday -- see Mike's "BBC, Jason Leopold, Dave Zirin, Jim" and Elaine's "Slaughter, Corporate Crime Reporter." Kat shares her thoughts on addressing pseudo-peace groups in "Bruce K. Gagnon." Betty continues to be the primary substitute at Rebecca's site (Rebecca gave birth last week) -- most recently with "This & That (Betty filling in for Rebecca)" -- and she asked that Jim's "Jim filling in for Rebecca (and Betty)" be noted.
KPFA is in fundraising mode (as are KFCF Fresno, KPFK Los Angeles, KPFT Houston, WBAI New York and WPFW Washington, DC) and Zach notes this program airing today:
Hard Knock Radio
Wednesday, May 9th, 4:00pm
Pacifica's Jerry Quickly reported from Iraq in the first days of the US invasion and the result was his film "Beats For Baghdad".
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