In Iraq, the U.S. lost 12 soldiers over the weekend including five near the Syrian border bringing the month’s death toll to 100 marking the deadliest month for US troops since the invasion began a year ago. 700 U.S. troops have now died in Iraq. The Knight Ridder news agency reports the past two weeks have been the deadliest two-week span for US troops since October 1971 during the Vietnam War. The New York Times is estimating U.S. forces have killed at least 1,000 Iraqis since the beginning of April. At least 650 Iraqis have died in Fallujah alone.
Spain’s new prime minister announced Sunday his country would pull its 1,400 troops out of Iraq within the next 15 days. Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero had originally said he would only pull the troops out on July 1 if there was not a new UN resolution. But after the recent Iraqi uprising Zapatero said the move must take place as soon as possible. Spain’s troops are stationed now outside Najaf, the Shiite Holy City where the US has threatened to invade in order to kill cleric Muqtada Sadr. On Friday, Sadr warned that his followers would wage a general war against the US if it decided to invade Najaf.
Meanwhile the London Telegraph is reporting the British commander of troops in southern Iraq has admitted that he would be powerless to prevent the overthrow of Coalition forces if the Shiite majority in Basra rose up in rebellion
The Washington Post reports the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq has all but stopped due to security concerns. In addition scores of Iraqis have quit their jobs helping the US in reconstruction. One U.S official told the Post, “It’s a Catch-22. We can’t start the work that’s supposed to help improve security until security improves.”
Meanwhile a new book titled Plan of Attack by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward reports President Bush asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to begin planning to invade Iraq on November 21, 2001, just 72 days after the Sept. 11 attacks. The book also reveals that in July 2002 the White House secretly shifted $700 million that was allocated for the war in Afghanistan to begin preparations for the war in Iraq. The move may have been illegal because it was done so without the approval of Congress. Woodward’s book also reports Secretary of State Colin Powell was purposely left out of the loop on much of the war planning because he had reservations about going into Iraq. According to the book Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, learned of Bush’s war plans before Powell did.
Beginning this week, the Supreme Court will hear three historic cases that will determine to what extent the president can detain U.S. citizens and foreigners without giving them any legal rights. The case will examine the US detention of so-called enemy combatants in the US as well as the detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
In campaign news, Senator John Kerry accused President Bush of being “stunningly ineffective in diplomacy.” His comments came during an hour-long interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press. Kerry said he would work to reestablish US credibility around the world. Kerry also backed off statements he made 30 years on the same program when he admitted he had committed atrocities in Vietnam and when he accused the US military leadership in Vietnam of war crimes. On Sunday Kerry said his comments from 1971 were “a little bit over the top.” Also on Meet the Press Kerry said he backed Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi and said he supported President Bush’s position on allowing Israel the right to keep settlements in Israel while rejecting the Palestinian’s right of return to their homeland.