An explosion outside an army recruiting center in Baghdad killed at least 16 Iraqis on Monday as lawmakers struggled to break a deadlock over legislation Sunni Arabs fear will split the country into three pieces. Government attorneys said Monday that U.S. courts have no authority to stop the military from transferring an American citizen to an Iraqi court to face charges he supported terrorists and insurgents. It's the latest legal challenge to the Bush administration's authority to keep terrorism cases, even those involving U.S. citizens, out of American courts. Shawqi Omar, a citizen of both Jordan and the United States who once served in the Minnesota National Guard, was captured in Iraq in 2004.
In all, violence around the country killed at least 29 Iraqis, 24 of them in the capital. Five bodies also turned up on city streets and in the Tigris River running through the capital.
A U.S. soldier was killed by small-arms fire after his patrol came under attack Sunday north of Baghdad, the U.S. military command said.
In Monday's deadliest attack, a minibus loaded with explosives blew up near the northern gate of the al-Muthana recruiting center in central Baghdad, killing at least 16 Iraqis and wounding seven, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Ibrahim al-Obeidi said.
In other developments:
U.S. military officials are explaining how they came up with last month's huge drop in Baghdad murders. They say they only counted victims of drive-by shootings, torture and execution. They left out those killed by suicide bombings, other explosions, rockets and mortars. The decision to include only victims of drive-by shootings and those killed by torture and executions allowed U.S. officials to argue that a security crackdown led by U.S. forces had cut the capital's murder rate in half.
Hearing Iraq described as "a mess" and a place where the U.S. "screwed up," may not be the kind of comments expected of a Republican. But those are the words being used by Senator Lindsey Graham, a GOP lawmaker from South Carolina. Speaking at the College of Charleston, Graham also says the military "underestimated how hard it would be" in Iraq.
The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusually downbeat secret report, reports The Washington Post. It concludes that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents. "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically — and that's where wars are won and lost," one Army official said.
A 56-year-old Kurdish-American woman told of seeing people sickened and dying during an alleged chemical attack carried out by Saddam Hussein's forces, as the genocide trial of the ex-president resumed Monday after nearly a three-week break.
Iraq will bolster its military presence in the oil-rich north of the country, where saboteurs and insurgents repeatedly have targeted workers, pipelines and facilities, the Iraqi oil minister said Monday. "We already have a military presence there and we're going to reinforce it," Hussain al-Shahristani told reporters at a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
A boycott by several political groups caused parliament to again put off a rancorous debate on a federalism bill that Sunni Arabs fear will split Iraq apart and fuel sectarian bloodshed.
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