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While the White House propaganda machine churns out pap claiming progress in President George W. Bush’s failed Iraq war, another 15 American soldiers die in that civil-warn torn country.
This time, an apparent mechanical problem cost soldiers their lives in the crash of a Blackhawk helicopter — the deadliest chopper crash since January 2005.
As the carnage continues in a war with no end in sight, more and more Americans are left to ask: How much is enough? How many more must die in a failed war fought on lies and hidden political agendas?
Reports The Associated Press:
A helicopter went down in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing all 14 U.S. soldiers aboard, the military said, the deadliest crash since January 2005.
The military said initial indications showed the aircraft experienced a mechanical problem and was not brought down by hostile fire, but the cause of the crash was still under investigation.
The UH-60 Black Hawk was part of a pair of helicopters on a nighttime operation when the crash occurred. The four crew members and 10 passengers who perished in the crash were assigned to Task Force Lightning, the military said. It did not release identities pending notification of relatives.
The U.S. military relies heavily on helicopters to avoid the threat of ambushes and roadside bombs — the deadliest weapon in the militants’ arsenal — and dozens have crashed in accidents or been shot down.
The deadliest crash occurred on Jan. 26, 2005, when a CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopter went down in a sandstorm in western Iraq, killing 31 U.S. troops.
Wednesday’s deaths raised to at least 3,721 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Meanwhile, a suicide truck bomber targeted a police agency in northern Iraq, killing at least 19 people and wounding 26, police and hospital officials said.
The attack occurred just before noon in Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, and many of the casualties were civilians, according to the officials.
Iraqi police and soldiers have frequently been targeted by militants seeking to disrupt U.S.-led efforts to enable the forces to take over their own security so foreign troops can go home.
A bomb and small-arms attack against a security post shared by police and U.S. paratroopers also killed 13 Iraqi officers in Beiji in late June.
With violence unrelenting, political pressure mounted for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to show progress in bringing Iraq’s battling factions together.
President Bush acknowledged his frustration with Iraqi leaders’ inability to bridge political divisions on Tuesday, but said only the Iraqi people can decide whether to sideline the troubled prime minister.
“Clearly, the Iraqi government’s got to do more,” Bush said at the close of a two-day North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada.
The Sept. 15 deadline for Bush’s next progress report to Congress is fast approaching, leaving the president little time to show that his U.S. troop buildup is succeeding in providing the enhanced security the Iraqi leaders need to forge a unified way forward.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, co-author of the highly anticipated report to Congress, said Tuesday that Washington’s blueprint for reconciliation was insufficient to win back control of Iraq. Congressional benchmarks such as laws to share oil revenue and reform security services don’t tell the whole story, he said Tuesday.
Crocker and the U.S. military commander, Gen. David Petraeus, may be heading into a storm of discontent as they argue before Congress that American troops need more time in Iraq.
Last week, a stunning suicide bomb attack killed as many as 500 people in northern Iraq, an attack blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq.
Crocker called Iraq’s problems difficult but fixable, arguing for more time for his diplomacy and operations by the bolstered American military force.
“Failure to meet any of them (congressionally mandated benchmarks) does not mean the definitive failure of the state or the society,” Crocker said.
“Conversely, to make them all would not by any means mean that they’ve turned the corner and it’s a sun-dappled upland from here on in with peace and harmony and background music. It’s just a lot more complex than that.”
He echoed Bush’s frustration with the lack of action by al-Maliki government’s on key legislative measures.
“Progress on national level issues has been extremely disappointing and frustrating to all concerned — to us, to Iraqis, to the Iraqi leadership itself,” Crocker said. But he added that the Shiite prime minister was working “in the shadow of a huge national trauma.”
While saying U.S. support was not a “blank check,” Crocker said Washington would continue backing al-Maliki’s government “as it makes serious efforts to achieve national reconciliation and deliver effective governance to the people of Iraq.” He stressed that it’s not just al-Maliki, but “the whole government that has to perform here.”
Crocker acknowledged “a lot of violence” in southern Iraq, where bombers killed Muthana province Gov. Mohammed Ali al-Hassani on Monday and Gov. Khalil Jalil Hamza in neighboring Qadasiyah province nine days earlier.
Both governors were members the Shiite political powerhouse, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, led by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim. His loyalists dominate police in Iraq’s south and are fighting Mahdi Army militiamen for dominance in the region, which may hold 70 percent or more of Iraq’s oil reserves, according to various estimates.