Another one bit the dust today, when Iraqi forces captured Fadhil Ibrahim Mahmud al-Mashadani, a former high-ranking member of Saddam's Baath Party:
Al-Mashadani led Iraq's military bureau in Baghdad during Saddam's rule.Al-Mashadani had been number six on the Iraqi government's most wanted list, and the three of clubs in the original terrorist deck of cards. The Iraqis had offered a $200,000 reward for his capture; no word yet on any reward claim. This latest milestone follows the joint Iraqi/American operation on Sunday that "led to the arrest of 65 suspected insurgents."
"Al-Mashadani is believed to be personally responsible for coordinating and funding attacks against the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security force," the [Iraqi government] statement said. "He is also suspected of being a critical link between the senior Baathist leaders hiding in Syria and the terrorists within Iraq."
In other news, President Bush visited Ft. Hood and spoke to members of the 1st Calvary Division, many of them just back from Iraq and many headed back there in the fall:
He said about 150,000 Iraqi military and police and other security personnel had now been trained, outnumbering the estimated 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.Bush stayed for "lunch with soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, the largest active-duty armored post in the military. . . and was meeting privately with the families of about 30 soldiers who have been killed before leaving the base."
"There's a lot of hard work ahead," he said. "The Iraqi people face brutal and determined enemies. But Iraqis are also determined and they have the will to defeat the insurgency." . . .
He also spoke optimistically about the fledging democracy in Iraq, with the recent formation of a transitional government that is to lead in drafting a new constitution and set the stage for elections for a permanent government by year's end.
"As the Iraq democracy succeeds, that success is sending a message from Beirut to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every nation," Bush said.
On Monday, Iraq's new president -- Jalal Talabani, a Kurd -- praised coalition forces and reaffirmed the new government's commitment to religious freedom:
Talabani restated his support for a continued US and Australian military presence in Iraq, one day after large demonstrations by supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demanded US troops leave the country.Finally, read the account of Staff Sergeant Greg Moore's homecoming:
"I think we are in great need to have American and other allied forces in Iraq until we will be able to rebuild our military forces," Mr Talabani told CNN.
Branding Sadr a "criminal" who should be arrested, Mr Talabani said he opposed setting a timetable for the US military's exit from the country.
"We will remain in full consultation and coordination, cooperation with our American friends, who came to liberate our country," he said. . .
Mr Talabani also rebuffed the calls to establish an Islamic state under the new constitution, which he predicted could be completed by the August 15 deadline.
Iraq's Governing Council already ruled against an Islamic government, Mr Talabani said, even while recognising Islam as the country's principal religion.
My older son's first-grade teacher had been wonderful to me while I was away. She sent school updates and pictures via e-mail almost weekly. So when I popped my head into her classroom she came running and gave me a "welcome home" hug.The situation in Iraq continues to improve. Remind me, again, why anti-war zealots say we're losing? Oh yeah: prejudice and illiteracy.
"Easton is practicing a song. Why don't you surprise him?"
My heart was racing. I followed the sound of the piano and the little voices singing, then stood and watched. Trickles of love and pride started involuntarily down my cheeks as I listened to my son. He has gotten so big. The anticipation built as I waited for him to see me.
The little girl next to him was the first to notice the uniformed man standing in the doorway. The image she saw and the facts she had been told were doing battle in her brain. Then her eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open.
"Easton! Easton . . . your Daddy's here!" she said in an electrified whisper.
My son's head snapped around. The excitement and disbelief on his face is something I will never forget. I motioned him to me and he ran into my open arms. There was no hiding my tears, and I didn't care to. This was the day I had waited for.
(via Captain's Quarters)
Today's lead WSJ editorial:
Many opposed the war from the start, and whether they have now reassessed their views in light of recent events is a matter of some interest. But because they never signed on to the war in the first place, the question of their fortitude throughout its ups and downs is less an issue.
The people who really concern us here--the people who did not pass the test--are those who signed up for the war at the beginning only to find one excuse or another to sign out before it was won. Usually, those excuses centered on some Bush bungle, real or alleged, that no "competent" Administration would have made but that was said to have rendered the whole enterprise morally sullied and irremediable. The looting of Baghdad falls into this category, as does the political wallowing in the abuses of Abu Ghraib.