Coalition of the deadly

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 at 03:53 PM

The new Bush mantra is that we are making serious progress in Iraq, that the cooperation between U.S. forces and Iraqi forces is producing real results that will, in turn, produce real peace and unity.

Maybe.  But take a look at these two items to hit the news today and see if you think that mantra will turn out to be anything but a mantra.

1. Iraq speaker demands U.S. probe in new deaths

BAGHDAD, June 21 (Reuters) - The speaker of Iraq's parliament asked the U.S. ambassador on Wednesday to investigate the killing by U.S. troops of "many innocent people" at a poultry farm in a village northeast of Baghdad.

The U.S. military, in the spotlight over murder charges it has brought against troops accused of killing Iraqis, said all 15 people killed in Tuesday's raid near Baquba were gunmen.

Aides to parliamentary speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said in a statement that he had asked U.S. envoy Zalmy Khalilzad to launch a "quick and transparent investigation".

"The speaker demanded the U.S. forces stop such ... mistakes," it said. "The Iraqi leadership should not fail to take action in order to stop the bloodshed of ... Iraqis."

Mashhadani is a Sunni Arab, elected in April to an office reserved for the minority under power-sharing conventions to distribute posts among Sunnis, Kurds and majority Shi'ites.

On Tuesday, the U.S. military said its forces hunting Sunni insurgents linked to al Qaeda killed 15 gunmen in simultaneous raids. Residents of Qaduri Ali al Shahin village 13 km (9 miles) north of Baquba said the dead were employees of a poultry farm.

The Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, which is sharply critical of the U.S. occupation, condemned "this crime".

2. AP: Iraqi Troops Killed 2 U.S. Soldiers

Two California soldiers shot to death in Iraq were murdered by Iraqi civil-defense officers patrolling with them, military investigators have found.

The deaths of Army Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson were originally attributed to an ambush during a patrol near Balad, Iraq, on June 22, 2004.

But the Army's Criminal Investigation Command found that one or more of the Iraqis attached to the American soldiers on patrol fired at them, a military official said Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman knew of no other similar incident, calling it "extremely rare."

Soldiers who witnessed the attack have told [Nadia McCaffrey, mother of Patrick McCaffrey] that two Iraqi patrolmen opened fire on her son's unit. The witnesses also said a third gunman simultaneously drove up to the American unit in a van, climbed onto the vehicle and fired at the Americans, she said.

"Nothing is clear. Nothing is clear," she said. Her son was shot eight times by bullets of various calibers, some of which penetrated his body armor, she said. She believes he bled to death.

I operate on the theory that only a fraction of incidents like these are likely to come to light, given the chaos of a battlefield, the hostility between Iraqi and Americans, and the incentive that both sides have to cover the incidents up.  Wonder if we'll ever know, even decades from now, how many of these incidents really occurred.