Army officer took bribes in Iraq

A former US army reserve major pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from US government contractors while deployed in Iraq, the US Department of Justice said Monday.

Separately, federal agents arrested an active-duty army major on charges of taking millions of dollars in bribes while working as a contracting officer stationed in Kuwait.

John Allen Rivard, 48, faces up to 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering at federal court in Austin, Texas, a statement by the department said.

Pentagon may delay full Iraq review

A September report on President George W. Bush’s strategy in Iraq will show whether the plan is progressing, but a fuller assessment will take until November, a top U.S. commander said on Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, deputy U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters at the Pentagon that trends in the war-torn country have begun moving “in the right direction” since Bush’s troop buildup became complete in mid-June.

Al-Qaeda comeback angers war critics

A new appraisal that Al-Qaeda is back in business fueled an angry Democratic clamor for President George W. Bush to end the war in Iraq and focus on eliminating Osama bin Laden’s resurgent network.

The latest US “national intelligence estimate” (NIE) released Tuesday revived acrimonious arguments over whether Bush has made the United States more or less vulnerable to terrorism.

Massacre in Iraq

Dozens of Shiite villagers in the north were massacred by Sunni extremists, two officials said Tuesday, while a car bomb exploded across the street from the Iranian Embassy in the heart of Baghdad and killed four civilians.

Meanwhile, Shiite legislators loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr decided to end their five-week boycott of parliament, one of their leaders said. The Shiite protest along with a separate Sunni boycott had blocked work on key benchmark legislation demanded by the U.S.

Police Col. Ragheb Radhi al-Omairi said 29 members of a Shiite tribe were massacred overnight in Diyala province when dozens of suspected Sunni gunmen raided their village near Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. The dead included four women, al-Omairi said.

Bin Laden surfaces in Al Qaeda video

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden praises martyrdom as a weapon and a path to glory for Muslims in a video that CNN said on Saturday was intercepted before it was to appear on radical Islamist Web sites.

CNN, which noted it could not verify the authenticity of the 40-minute video and had translated it from Arabic into English, said on its Web site there was no indication of where or when the footage had been shot.

The news network said the video contained old clips but concluded it had been compiled in the last four weeks.

Can we afford to lose this war?

Contrary to what you’ve read in the newspapers, we are not debating whether to “change course” in Iraq. We are debating whether to accept defeat in Iraq.

Contrary to what you’ve seen on television, there is no way for us to “end the war.” If we retreat from Iraq, the war will not just continue but expand. The only difference is that a battlefield on which we are now killing our enemies will be transformed into a base from which our enemies can safely plan to kill us.

Bloody weekend: 220+ dead in Iraq

Prominent Shiite and Sunni politicians called on Iraqi civilians to take up arms to defend themselves after a weekend of violence that claimed more than 220 lives, including 60 who died Sunday in a surge of bombings and shootings around Baghdad.

The calls reflect growing frustration with the inability of Iraqi security forces to prevent extremist attacks.

3,591 American soldiers dead in Iraq

As of Thursday, July 5, 2007, at least 3,591 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 2,951 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

The AP count is four higher than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Thursday at 10 a.m. EDT.

War-weary troops face tour extensions

As the Iraq civil war escalates into bloody chaos and President George W. Bush shows no sign of backing down from his failed troop surge, the Army will need to extend combat tours for battle-weary troops.

Reports out of Iraq say troop morale nosedives and news that many may not come home when scheduled is expected to further demoralize on-the-ground soldiers who know all too well the war is lost.

Acting Army Secretary Pete Green admitted to Congress Tuesday that the Pentagon is considering extending the combat tours of soldiers currently in Iraq and may also have to send Reserve and National Guard units back for third and fourth deployments.

Paying tribue to fathers who died in war

Father’s Day is difficult for any child or daughter whose Dad is gone but it is especially hard for those who lost a father in war.

On Sunday, as an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq continues to take more and more American lives, sons and daughters gathered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington to honor their fathers who died in another war waged for questionable reasons.

Many of those who made it home from Vietnam hoped and prayed the United States would not repeat the tragic mistakes of that war. Unfortunately, they were wrong.