And in other news: Iraq

The war isn't front-page news this week, but that's not because there isn't news.

Published July 21, 2005 5:40PM (EDT)

It's hard to find breathing room between Karl Rove, John Roberts and the blasts in London this morning, but there's news from many fronts in Iraq -- and it's not particularly encouraging.

In Baghdad today, gunmen kidnapped two Algerian diplomats in the latest in a series of acts aimed at forcing representatives of foreign nations to flee Iraq. In a sign that insurgents' attacks are having their intended effect, Sunnis who had been participating in the drafting of Iraq's new constitution pulled out of that process this week after insurgents killed one of the Sunni members of the constitution committee. While the committee's Shiite chairman has insisted that it will meet its Aug. 15 deadline, the Sunnis are saying that they won't rejoin the process until their security demands are met -- and that the committee should not proceed in their absence.

In Washington today, Democrats are complaining that the declassified portions of a Pentagon assessment on Iraq will not include information about the readiness of Iraqi soldiers and security forces. Although George W. Bush has said a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq won't come until Iraqis are ready to fight for themselves, the Pentagon won't release to the public its analysis of the progress made in standing up Iraqi forces. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says it would be "mindless" to publicize such information.

And while the Defense Department's Web site leads with news that two Virginia kids have set up a lemonade stand to raise money for injured soldiers, there's word of a more serious development down below: A sailor assigned to a regimental combat team in Baghdad has died from injuries suffered in a July 15 roadside bomb attack.

The news raises the U.S. death toll in Iraq to 1,771. And if that human toll seems intangible and distant amid all the news of the Valerie Plame investigation and the Supreme Court confirmation fight, it won't after you see this.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Iraq Karl Rove Middle East War Room