A U.S. soldier and his Iraqi interpreter were killed this morning in a grenade attack north of Baghdad. On Sunday two other U.S. soldiers were killed as was an Iraqi employee of a UN-affiliated relief agency.
Meanwhile the U.S. announced plans to train a new 7,000 strong Iraqi militia within the next 45 days to help police Iraq.
In related news, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on the American-led forces in Iraq to set out a “clear timetable” for a staged withdrawal from Iraq.
For the first time, a top U.S. official has admitted that the U.S. deliberately stepped up aid raids over Iraq last year to prepare for this year’s invasion. Publicly the U.S. had claimed its pilots were simply enforcing the No-Fly Zones but officials now admit the strikes targeted Iraq’s fiber-optic military communications system as well as the military’s key command centers.
The secret plan codenamed Operation Southern Focus was launched last summer–before President Bush even took his case against Iraq to the United Nations.
Lt. Gen. Michael Moseley told The New York Times that U.S. forces dropped some 600 precision guided bombs on about 400 targets in the months leading up to the actual invasion of Iraq.
But the report further strengthens the assertion the U.S. war on Iraq did not begin in March but quietly during the summer of 2002.
Time Magazine reports that Michael Powell, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, has told friends he would like to leave the FCC by fall. The FCC has come under tremendous criticism for ramming through new regulations that rewrite the nation’s media ownership laws.
Last week a House committee voted 40 to 25 to reverse part of the FCC’s decision. A recent poll by Pew Research found 90 percent of the country opposed the changes which were lobbied for by big media corporations including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
FCC head Michael Powell is the son of Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell.
For the first time, evidence has emerged that North Korea may have secretly built a second nuclear plant for producing weapons-grade plutonium. This according to a report in The New York Times quoting unnamed American and Asian officials.
Meanwhile U.S. News and World Reports say Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently ordered U.S. military commanders to draw up new highly classified plans to deal with North Korea. Named Operations Plan Fifty-Thirty (5030), critics of the plan say it is so aggressive that it could provoke war with North Korea.
The U.S has temporarily suspended plans to try two British prisoners and an Australian held at Guantanamo Bay in a secret U.S. military tribunal. Officials from the three countries are expected to meet this week.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz this weekend visited the Iraqi town of Hilla where mass graves have been unearthed containing over 3,000 bodies of people killed 12 years ago by Saddam Hussein.
Wolfowitz said, “Obviously, for those people, liberation didn’t come in time,” He went on to describe the killers as monsters.
Meanwhile the total number of Iraqi civilians killed during the recent invasion has now topped at least 6,000 according to the website Iraqbodycount.net.