The Iraq report

Progress? That would be one word for it.

Published July 10, 2006 2:37PM (EDT)

Tell us again how leaving would make things worse.

In Baghdad today, car bombers killed at least eight people in a Shiite district at about the same time that gunmen were killing six people on a bus in a Sunni neighborhood. The attacks followed what the New York Times is calling a "brazen daytime rampage" by gunmen in Baghdad Sunday that may have left 41 Sunnis dead. "Even by recent standards, the violence here on Sunday was frightening, delivered with impunity by gun-wielding vigilantes on the street," the Times' Kirk Semple reports.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite, insists that the "situation in Baghdad is under control."

Elsewhere in Iraq today, bombs killed three people outside the office of the Kurdish PUK party in Kirkuk, injured 11, including five police officers, in Baquba, and killed a police officer near Hilla; gunmen killed two bodyguards assigned to protect a judge in Baghdad and a member of a local governing council near Baquba; an agriculture official was kidnapped in Djail, where a dead body bearing signs of torture was also found; and police recovered five bodies from the Tigris River in Suwayra and another in the city of Kut.

The U.S. military says that four more soldiers are being charged in the rape and murder of an Iraqi woman and the killing of her family members. The initial arrest in the case, announced last week, involved a former soldier named Steven D. Green. Now, the military says it will charge four soldiers on active duty. A fifth will be charged with dereliction of duty. Initial reports said the rape and murder victim was 20. Other reports say she was 14.

Even before the latest arrests were announced, the New York Times was reporting that at least 12 U.S. soldiers now stand charged with crimes that could lead to the death penalty, raising the specter that the U.S. military could execute one of its own for the first time since 1961. The reason for the high numbers? "Some military officials and experts say the new crop of cases appears to arise from a confluence of two factors: an increasingly chaotic and violent war with no clear end in sight, and a newly vigilant attitude among American commanders about civilian deaths."

In Washington, a senior defense official tells CNN that Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli is questioning "the motivation" of senior Marine leaders who failed to investigate when confronted with conflicting stories about the massacre at Haditha. In a departure from the usual "few bad apples" argument, Chiarelli raises the possibility that Marine leaders willfully looked away from alleged criminal activity that led to the deaths of 24 Iraqis.

One Marine and three soldiers died in Iraq over the weekend, bringing the U.S. death toll in the war to 2,544.

Meanwhile, Japan has begun talking about the possibility of a preemptive strike against North Korea, and Iran says it's "very unlikely" that it will offer a substantive response this week to the West's proposals for avoiding a nuclear standoff. With more than 130,000 U.S. troops bogged down in Iraq and the image of American power in tatters, the Bush administration has only this to offer: a call for patience as the diplomatic processes work -- or don't.

By Tim Grieve

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

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