3/15/2005

Are we safe yet?

From MSNBC:
Pakistani and American officials said Tuesday the hunt for top al-Qaida and Taliban leaders would continue, but acknowledged the trail was cold. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said his forces believed they had nearly hunted down Osama bin Laden about 10 months ago, but had since lost track of him.

From the BBC:
Italy is to begin withdrawing its troops from Iraq in September 2005, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said. Italy has 3,000 troops in Iraq - the fourth largest foreign contingent. Domestic opposition to Italy's involvement in Iraq intensified after the killing of an Italian agent by US troops in Baghdad earlier this month.
UPDATE March 17: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced by Washington and London to backtrack on his surprise announcement that Italian troops would start leaving Iraq in September, the Italian press said today. US President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair reacted to Berlusconi's announcement by saying that no troop withdrawal from Iraq has been ordered and that the Italian leader would not act unilaterally. Berlusconi then qualified his remarks on pulling Italy's 3,300 soldiers out of southern Iraq in about six months, calling it "a wish". The paper also criticised the Italian leader for changing his mind about a matter as serious as the commitment of troops to a war zone.

From Salon:
A report in the NY Times documented how Iraqi weapons facilities were systematically looted in the weeks after the war began. Iraq's deputy minister of the industry told the Times the significant weapons-making equipment was missing from plants and factories that coalition forces failed to secure. Like the deadly munitions from al QaQaa, the weapons equipment is missing and possibly in the hands of those who don't view America's safety as job number one...Time Magazine reports that Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi may be working on plans for attacks within the United States. The Bush administration had several chances to take out Zarqawi before the war began but chose not to do so, in part because eliminating a terrorist threat in Iraq with methods short of war might undercut the need for the war in the first place. Zarqawi is working with al Qaida now -- another byproduct of the war -- and Time says he is talking about attacks on "soft targets" in the United States, including movie theaters, restaurants and schools...And now there are new concerns about aviation safety in the United States. Security is better for commercial airliners, but the nation's private aviation system remains vulnerable to attack, according to a report prepared by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. While the administration has spent billions on the war in Iraq, it has done little to improve security for private planes or helicopters and not enough to secure U.S. ports.

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