Today, the US military announced: "A Marine and a Soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West died Aug. 29 in separate in attacks while conducting combat operations in AlAnbar Province." The announcement brings ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq so far this month to 79 with the total since the start of the illegal war to 3737.
Standing in a small room in the Iraqi home they'd raided an hour earlier, a dozen soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division were trading jokes when 1st Sgt. Troy Moore, Company A's senior enlisted man, shouted out.
"We're bringing democracy to Iraq," he called, with obvious sarcasm, as a reporter entered the room. Then Moore began loudly humming the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Within seconds the rest of the troops had joined in, filling the small, barren home in the middle of Iraq with the patriotic chorus of a Civil War-era ballad.
U.S. officials say that security has improved since the Sledgehammer Brigade, as the 3rd Brigade is called, arrived five months ago as part of the 30,000-strong buildup of additional U.S. troops to Iraq and took control of an area 30 miles southeast of Baghdad. The brigade, with 3,800 soldiers, has eight times the number of troops that were in the area before.
Although the soldiers who since spring have walked and ridden through this volatile area mixed with Sunni and Shiite Muslims have seen some signs of progress, they still face the daily threat of roadside bombs, an unreliable Iraqi police force, the limitations of depending on Iraqis for tips and the ever-elusive enemy.
"Even though we've out-stayed our welcome, in the big picture of whether we've helped or not, I know we have," said Sgt. Christofer Kitto, a 23-year-old sniper from Altamont, N.Y. "But now it's just in a state of quagmire. The U.S. time here has come and gone."
On this night, the troops had been ferried by helicopter to a rural enclave abutting the Tigris River. Their mission: Uproot a suspected nest of Sunni insurgents.
But the soldiers found only a small cache of weapons outside one of the 13 houses they searched. They detained one man who identified himself with a name that didn't match his government-issued ID, earning him a noisy, expletive-laden interrogation that was easily overheard in the next room.
"Keep your head down! Keep your (expletive) head down!" the interrogator yelled in English as an interpreter translated. "Why are you speaking if you're lying? You better think about what you're saying before you talk to me, son. I've got a real short temper tonight!"
The above is from Chris Collins' "South of Baghdad, U.S. ttroops find fatigue, frustration" (McClatchy Newspapers). The 'cache of weapons' is most likely the guns Iraqis are allowed to have for self-defense. The scene described above has been repeated over and over since 2003. There is no progress, only more of the same. There will be no progress while the US remains in Iraq.
Martha notes Karen DeYoung's "Pentagon Challenges GAO's Report on Iraq" (Washington Post):
The Pentagon has disputed parts of a progress report on Iraq drafted by the Government Accountability Office, and asked that some of the assessment's failing grades on key political and security benchmarks be changed before the final report is made public next week, a Defense spokesman said yesterday.
This is a follow up to DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks' "Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals" report yesterday and justifies the concern of the person providing the draft copy that the US administration would attempt to water down the report.
Where will you be tomorrow? Iraq Veterans Against the War will be in Texas on Saturday. Texans For Peace are staging an American People's Poll on Iraq in Fort Worth, Texas featuring many speakers including IVAW's Adam Kokesh, Leonard Shelton and Hart Viges as well as Diane Wilson, Tina Richards, Ann Wright and many others. Click here for the press release. There is not a fee to attend, the event is Saturday, in Fort Worth, Texas which is also where the Republican Straw Poll will be "taking place in General Worth Square". People will begin arriving at nine in the morning, the speeches will begin at 1:30. There will be music and entertainment. Though the event is free, people can donate and Texans For Peace is encouraging everyone planning to attend to print up tickets online. The tickets will be used for a number count of those attending. No one will be turned away because they didn't have access to a computer to print up the ticket. This has the potential to be a very big event but that will depend upon people being aware of the rally so get the word out. If you don't think you know anyone in Texas, be sure to mention it throughout the day (even outside of Texas) and someone may tell you, "My uncle/aunt/college friend . . . is against the illegal war and they live in Texas. I wonder if they know about it? Let me call/e-mail them."
On most PBS stations tonight NOW with David Brancaccio begins airing (check local listings) and the focus for tonight is:
When Tom Siebel, a billionaire software developer and part time Montana resident, learned the devastating effect methamphetamine addiction was having on the big sky state, he decided to use his successful marketing techniques - and 20 million dollars from his own wallet - to "un-sell" the deadly and highly addictive drug. It's called the Montana Meth Project. On Friday, August 31 (check your local listings), NOW's David Brancaccio talks with the venture philanthropist about blitzing the state with stark and shocking ad campaigns designed to drag meth use out of the shadows and get into the faces of kids. The results are promising, and his idea is spreading around the country.
Also on the show, another "Enterprising Idea": a business model focusing on ethnic foods that's creating local jobs for Boston's inner city.To complement this week's show the NOW website at www.pbs.org/now will offer access to the Montana Meth ad campaigns, statistics on methamphetamine use, and an exclusive interview with the Partnership for a Drug Free America CEO on what it takes to fight meth addiction.
**Note that on September 14, we'll be airing a one-hour NOW special, which follows up -- in Iraq -- on the soldiers we profiled deploying from Fort Stewart in our January 19 show "Back to the Front": http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/303/ **
Already today in Iraq, Reuters reports a barber was shot dead in Kirkuk, a Samarra car bombing claimed the lives of 4 police officer and "an employee of the customs office" was shot dead in Hawija.
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