a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew


Posted by Thomas Nephew on April 19th, 2007

Bombers Defy Security Push, Killing at Least 158 in Baghdad (Karen Brulliard,* Washington Post, 4/18/07, with somebody using a bad number in the headline to hide a worse one in the article) —

Across Iraq, at least 10 other people were killed in bombings and shootings, and 58 bullet-riddled corpses were found, police and news services reported, bringing the day’s death toll to nearly 230.

Bomber Gets by Baghdad Security; 12 Dead (Lauren Frayer, AP, 4/19/07) —

A suicide bomber breached Baghdad’s heavy security presence again Thursday, killing a dozen people in a mostly Shiite district a day after more than 230 people died in one of the war’s deadliest episodes of violence.

U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq at 3,311 (AP, 4/18/07) —

As of Wednesday, April 18, 2007, at least 3,311 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,691 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

Sadr ministers quit Iraq government over U.S. troops (Ross Colvin and Yara Bayoumy, Reuters, 4/16/07) —

Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his ministers to quit Iraq’s coalition government on Monday in protest at Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s refusal to set a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw.

Qaeda group says Iraq a “university of terror” (Firouz Sedarat, Reuters, 4/17/07) —

The head of an al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq said the country had become a “university of terrorism,” producing highly qualified warriors, since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Baghdadi added that he opposed fighting between insurgent groups, and pledged to work to prevent such bloodshed, leading to a kind of rapprochement:

Ibrahim al-Shemmari, the spokesman of the Islamic Army in Iraq, welcomed Baghdadi’s remarks.

“If they want to … preserve the blood of Sunnis, we would be the happiest people to hear this talk,” he told Al Jazeera television in a telephone interview. “We want to point out weapons at our enemies’ chests and not at each other.”

One would think news like this might stiffen Democrats’ resolve to set a timetable for getting us the hell out of Iraq. But one would apparently be wrong — though it’s at least heartening to see no Democrat is willing to go on record about that in this article:

Democrats Would Make Iraq Timetable in Bill ‘Advisory’ (Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, 4/19/07 … page A18) —

Congressional Democratic leaders are moving to make their proposed timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq “advisory” as they seek to reconcile two versions of war spending legislation into a single bill that they plan to pass next week, according to several House members. […]

Bush has vowed to veto legislation with timetables in it, calling it a schedule of surrender, but Democrats hope to show that they are being flexible and the president rigid by softening the terms. The compromises may cost Democrats votes among antiwar liberals, but they hope to pick up some Republicans.

Which “Democrats” are we talking about here? Anyone who won an election last November? Is that just a joke at this point? Cho Seung Hui’s rampage at Virginia Tech may have collateral effects beyond his wildest dreams. That’s because it may have served as a media smokescreen, allowing Congressional leadership to quietly drop strict timetables on our military presence in Iraq.

* Special correspondents Salih Dehema, Naseer Mehdawi, Naseer Nouri and Waleed Saffar in Baghdad and Saad Sarhan in Najaf contributed as well, as did Thomas Ricks in Washington and Ann Scott Tyson in Tel Aviv.
EDIT, 4/19: not a “sectarian” rapprochement, the latter group is Sunni as well. Writing for American Prospect, Marc Lynch says the turn of many Sunni insurgents and tribal leaders against Al Qaeda actually undermines arguments for continued US presence in Iraq, let alone escalation — since it makes clear that Iraq is unlikely to be an Al Qaeda haven after we leave. Lynch adds, “These insurgent factions have said that they would talk to the United States on the condition that it commit to withdrawing.”

UPDATE, 4/20:While the NY Times’ Jeff Zeleny leads with Reid’s comments that “this war is lost,” he reports further into the 4/20 story:

House Democratic leaders have convened meetings throughout the week with their members, urging them to accept a compromise calling for a goal, as the Senate has done, not a mandatory deadline. “The president is going to veto it anyway, so what difference does it make?” said Representative James P. Moran, Democrat of Virginia. “This bill is a shell of itself. It’s not worth fighting over.”

Time for me to call my representative, I guess — Chris Van Hollen, D-MD-8, DCCC chair; (202) 225-5341, DC; (301) 424-3501, Rockville.

5 Responses to “Meanwhile…”

  1. Nell Says:

    Re the Democrats’ ‘advisory timetable’ ploy: What the..? I’ve been away from blogs etc. for the most part for the last two days, but the two things I picked up on were the WashPost poll that showed how strong the public support for the Dems’ timetable legislation was, and Harry Reid’s tough talk at the White House (admittedly, through the unreliable filter of an anonymous source feeding TPM).
    It’s beyond sick if they’re giving up the weak restrictions they’ve passed in response to White House and GOP garbage about ‘not supporting the troops’ that ISN’T EVEN WORKING with the public.

  2. Nell Says:

    Have any other blogs covered this? It’s all Gonzales all the time at TPM, understandably enough.

  3. Nell Says:

    Hmm… that is thinly sourced. No actual named Democrat saying anything remotely like what the headline and lead say. This smells to high heaven.

  4. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Matt Stoller (“MyDD”) went ballistic about this story, and says he feels like Emanuel and Hoyer are “testing” antiwar supporters. A really good Texas blogger, Charles Kuffner (“Off the Kuff”) writes about a Houston Chronicle article ID’ing Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX-somewhere…Houston, I guess) as one of the wobbly Dems. But I’ve seen nothing firm about really big guns like, say, Hoyer. Not that I’ve scoured the intertubes for that yet either.

  5. » Blog Archive » Stand up Congress, don’t back down Says:

    […] item claiming “Democrats Back Down.” This kind of thing seems to happen to the Post more and more often these days. (Hat tip R.D.) UPDATE, 5/4: More photos of the Friendship Heights rally […]

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