The Envoy
  • (Jaafer Abes/Reuters)• Death toll climbs to 89 in attacks that marked the deadliest day in Iraq this year. (New York Times)

    • The true cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan is anyone's guess. (Nancy Youssef/McClatchy)

    • Virtually everybody on the ground is to blame for stolen food aid in Somalia. (NPR)

    • Oldest living survivor of Bataan death march, Albert Doc Brown, dies at 105. (USA Today)

    • More than 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are visiting Israel and the West Bank over the August recess. (New York Times)

    Read More »from The Daily Planet: Iraq’s deadly day, stolen food aid in Somalia
  • Iraq shaken by wave of attacks, killing 86 people

    Samir Yousif, 31, is treated at a hospital in Kut after a car bomb in Kut, Iraq, Monday, Aug. 15, 2011. (Hadi Mizban/AP)A coordinated wave of attacks killed 86 people throughout Iraq Monday, in the worst single day of violence the country has experienced in a year.

    The violence--consisting of 37 separate attacks in some 17 cities and locales, including 11 car bombs, 19 improvised explosive devices and 2 suicide bombers--"touched nearly every region of the country except Kurdistan and appeared to be aimed at security forces in both Sunni and Shiite areas," the New York Times reported.

    While no group had claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, the spokesman for the al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate posted a recording to the group's website last week threatening a broad attack, the Times Michael Schmidt and Yasir Ghazi reported.

    The White House condemned the violence, but vowed it would not deter recently launched U.S.-Iraqi discussions about a possible follow-on U.S. troop presence in the country. Some 48,000 U.S. forces are currently in Iraq, and the rest are scheduled to depart by year's end under a previously negotiated status of forces agreement between the American and Iraqi governments. However, the Iraqi government announced only late last month that it would begin discussing a possible follow-on U.S. troop presence with the Americans.

    "Obviously there have been attacks and we strongly condemn them," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday aboard Air Force One en route to St. Paul, Minnesota.  However, Carney added, "it doesn't change where we are in the process of drawing down our troops or change the fact that we are, as we have said, in discussions with the Iraqis.  And if they make some kind of request we certainly would consider it."

    Defense officials and analysts meantime noted that the attacks, which primarily targeted Iraqi security forces, come in the overall context of reduced violence in Iraq this year. Some 178 people were killed in Iraq outside of Kurdistan in July, down sharply from 342 people in June and 321 people in May, the New York Times reported, citing Iraqi Interior Ministry statistics.

    Analysts also noted that Iraqi insurgents were predictably and opportunistically trying to make it appear they are chasing remaining U.S. forces out of Iraq, rather than the U.S. drawing down according to a previously agreed timetable.

    Read More »from Iraq shaken by wave of attacks, killing 86 people
  • A photo taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden wss shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011. (Mohammad Zubair/AP)American intelligence officials believe that Pakistan's spy agency permitted Chinese military officials to examine the wreckage of the Black Hawk stealth helicopter destroyed in the wake of the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the New York Times reported Monday.

    The reported U.S. intelligence assessment is based on "intercepted conversations in which Pakistani officials discussed inviting the Chinese to the crash site," the Times' Mark Mazzetti reported.

    Mazzetti notes that U.S. officials acknowledge they don't have "definitive proof" the Chinese obtained access to the helicopter remains in Abbottabad--but he cited one source knowledgeable about the incident who was "certain" that Chinese engineers had taken photos and samples of the wreckage.

    Pakistani officials denied the accusation when U.S. counterparts raised it, Mazzetti reported. The remains of the Black Hawk helicopter have been returned to the United States.

    Read More »from Pakistan gave Chinese peek at U.S. ‘copter remains: reported U.S. intel assessment

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