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Monday, Dec 22nd

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Iraqi's warmth to Israel exacts a heavy price

First his two sons were murdered. Now he faces prosecution. The reason for Mithal al-Alusi's troubles? Visiting Israel and advocating peace with the Jewish state — something Iraq's leaders refuse to consider.

The Iraqi is at the center of a political storm after his fellow lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to strip him of his immunity and allow his prosecution for visiting Israel — a crime punishable by death under a 1950s-era law. Such a fate is unlikely for al-Alusi, though he may lose his party's sole seat in parliament.

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Satellite images show ethnic cleanout in Iraq

Satellite images taken at night show heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad began emptying before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published on Friday.

The images support the view of international refugee organizations and Iraq experts that a major population shift was a key factor in the decline in sectarian violence, particularly in the Iraqi capital, the epicenter of the bloodletting in which hundreds of thousands were killed.

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US seeking sole command of Nato's war against the Taliban

The Bush administration is pushing for sweeping changes to the military command structure in Afghanistan, so that the head of international forces would report directly to US Central Command instead of Nato.

The changes would have huge repercussions for Nato, whose officials have stated that Afghanistan is a "defining moment" for the organisation's ability to conduct large-scale operations abroad.

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TVNL Comment: Hey, EU: the US is in charge of wars in the pipeline region.  We start unending wars, and WE profit from them.  Get it?  You just send your kids to die in them.  Got it?  Good.

CIA using missile strikes to 'tickle' terrorists

The Central Intelligence Agency is using strikes against enemy targets to learn how the groups respond when attacked, the agency's director said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Air Force Association's annual conference, Michael Hayden said the clandestine agency is trying to "tickle" enemy groups to provoke a reaction, often with missile strikes targeting just an individual.

"We use military operations to excite the enemy, prompting him to respond. In that response we learn so much," said Hayden, a retired Air Force general who has led the CIA since 2006.

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TVNL COMMENT: Do these idiots even consider that missile strikes could CREATE terrorists?  Why they hate us....

'US drone' kills five in Pakistan

At least five people have been killed in a suspected missile attack by a US drone on a village in north-west Pakistan, local officials say.

The officials said missiles hit the village of Baghar in South Waziristan, close to the Afghan border.

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The rising cost of the Iraq 'surge'

Despite strong evidence to the contrary, it has become established conventional wisdom among mainstream Washington journalists that the “surge” was the singular reason for the recent decline in Iraq’s violence. It’s also agreed that McCain deserves great credit for pushing the “surge” idea early.

 As we’ve reported previously, other brutal factors – that the Washington press corps almost never mentions – help explain the decline in violence:

 

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Secrets of 'sexed-up' WMD dossier must be told, watchdog orders ministers

The Information Commissioner ordered civil servants to release undisclosed emails and memos about a draft of the dossier which supposedly set out the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

Richard Thomas flatly rejected Government claims that the comments - kept under wraps during a three-year legal battle - could jeopardise national security.

He said it was clearly in the public interest to know what alterations to the dossier were proposed in the days before it was published.

This was because the undisclosed material could provide 'evidence that the dossier was deliberately manipulated in order to present an exaggerated case for military action'.

Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly heard that last-minute changes to the draft were suggested by Tony Blair's spin supremo Alastair Campbell, and subsequently adopted by intelligence chiefs.

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