Late night reading
But, this NYTimes piece looking at the cable TV coverage makes some interesting reading.
Two senior Iranian operatives who were detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and were strongly suspected of planning attacks against American military forces and Iraqi targets were expelled to Iran on Friday, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
"One of the commanders, identified by officials simply as Chizari, was the third-highest-ranking official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Brigade."
Three more Marines were killed in battle in Iraq, the military said Friday, making December the year's deadliest month for U.S. troops with the toll reaching 106.....
Already, December was shaping up to be one of the worst months for Iraqi civilian deaths since The Associated Press began keeping track in May 2005.
Al-Nueimi said U.S. authorities were maintaining physical custody of Saddam to prevent him from being humiliated before his execution. He said the Americans also want to prevent the mutilation of his corpse, as has happened to other deposed Iraqi leaders.
"The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully," al-Nueimi said. If Saddam is humiliated publicly or his corpse ill-treated "that could cause an uprising and the Americans would be blamed," he said.
Our children now play games of 'sniper' and 'jihadi', pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee.
The Bush administration is considering an increase in troop levels in Iraq of 17,000 to 20,000,......
With the continuing high levels of violence there, senior officials increasingly say additional American forces will be needed as soon as possible to clear neighborhoods and to conduct other combat operations to regain control of the capital, rather than primarily to train Iraqi forces.
President Bush worked nearly three hours at his Texas ranch on Thursday to design a new U.S. policy in Iraq, then emerged to say that he and his advisers need more time to craft the plan he'll announce in the new year.
The U.S. military announced five more American troop deaths: four soldiers hit by roadside bombs on patrol and a Marine killed in combat in volatile western Iraq. That raises U.S. troop deaths this month to 100, second only to the 105 service members who died in October.
Many of the American soldiers trying to quell sectarian killings in Baghdad don't appear to be looking for reinforcements. They say the temporary surge in troop levels some people are calling for is a bad idea.
The soldiers who came upon the car in a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad were part of a joint American and Iraqi patrol, and the Americans were ready to take action. The Iraqi commander, however, taking orders by cellphone from the office of a top Sunni politician, said to back off: the car’s owner was known and protected at a high level.....
“I have personally witnessed about a half-dozen of these incidents of what I would call political pressure, where a minister or someone from a minister’s office contacts one of these Iraqi commanders,” said Lt. Col. Steven Miska,
Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush had launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.
In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.
"I needed to make that trip," said Bastian, who traveled with her husband, Todd. "All of us were very, very disappointed in the media coverage over the war. I had so many avenues that were telling me different, that there were good things happening in Iraq, that they were just reporting the bomb of the day."
A fugitive former Iraqi minister, with dual U.S. citizenship, flew to Jordan in an American plane after escaping from a Baghdad jail earlier this month, Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet said on Tuesday......
A Western diplomatic source familiar with the case and who requested anonymity said: "American secret service officials put him on board a U.S. military plane from Baghdad airport on Friday and brought him to Jordan".
[On Dec. 20 in London, British officials charged the interpreter for NATO’s commanding general in Afghanistan with passing secrets to Iran.]
“U.S. policies, particularly under the current administration, have created a huge amount of resentment around the world,” said a senior Iranian official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. “I’m not saying Iran is gaining power all over the world. I’m saying the U.S. is losing it fast.”
ABC News was told by a French foreign intelligence official today that indeed Pakistan and Afghanistan are re-emerging as al Qaeda's main training ground and that there is increasing "chatter" and intelligence coming out of those areas.
The official said "dozens" of Westerners have been trained in North Waziristan and Afghanistan in the past eight months alone and that some have already returned to the West. Most of them were British citizens, said the official, but he added there were some Americans and even a few Frenchmen who, he said, are still being trained.
The stringer reports that large parts of the city of Baqouba have “fallen” under the control of al-Qaida-inspired Sunni militants. They attack American troops, Iraqi security forces and force Shiites from their homes. Many parents have stopped sending their children to school. Few state institutions function. The city is paralyzed.....
“They (the Sunni insurgents) took me in one of their cars, and drove me around the areas of Baqouba under their control. There were no police on the streets. They had just killed a policeman. His body was still in the car where they shot him.
For three months, or so, up through mid-November, about 40% of the pictures I put up from Iraq were from Baquoba. It was the main sectarian conflict point outside of Baghdad, and now there are no more pictures. The Sunnis have won.
The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.
The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington. ....
The predawn raid on Mr. Hakim’s compound, on the east side of the Tigris, was perhaps the most startling part of the American operation. The arrests were made inside the house of Hadi al-Ameri, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s security committee and leader of the Badr Organization, the armed wing of Mr. Hakim’s political party.
IRAQ'S interior minister has accused an unnamed regional power of being behind a recent spate of mass kidnappings in Baghdad and has promised to reveal more details in the coming days.
Ethiopia officially plunged into war with Somalia’s Islamist forces on Sunday, bombing targets inside Somalia and pushing ground troops deep into Somali territory in a major escalation that could turn Somalia’s internal crisis into a violent religious conflict that engulfs the entire Horn of Africa.
U.S. military commanders in Iraq are attempting to get under control the Facilities Protection Service, whose 150,000 members are paid to guard the 26 Iraqi ministries and serve as personal security to ministers and important government officials but also provide manpower for sectarian party militias and death squads.
Jabr and others say the FPS began as a force to protect public buildings and facilities. But as time passed, individual units became beholden to the institutions they protected. New ministers would bring in their own loyalists to fill the ranks of their FPS contingents and fund them separately. ....
U.S. officials tell NEWSWEEK that the Ministry of Transportation, which is run by an openly anti-American ally of Moqtada al-Sadr, employs large numbers of FPS soldiers. Thousands of them have been issued AK-47s or pistols, and they wear the sky-blue shirts and blue trousers of the Iraqi police. The thousands of police vehicles that are available to the Transportation Ministry are now also available to the FPS—and perhaps to Sadr's militia.
Iran has vowed to start work immediately on drastically expanding its capacity to enrich uranium, defying the first ever UN sanctions against the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.
Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said work would start as early as Sunday on installing 3,000 uranium enriching centrifuges at a key nuclear plant, hours after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution against Iran.