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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


What the hell

Troops Sweep 3 Shiite Areas in Baghdad Push

Published: February 15, 2007

BAGHDAD, Feb. 14 — Thousands of American troops in armored Stryker vehicles swarmed three mostly Shiite neighborhoods of northeastern Baghdad on Wednesday, encountering little resistance during what commanders described as the first major sweep of the new security plan for the capital.

The push into the neighborhoods of Shaab, Bayda and Ur, on the northern edge of Sadr City, came a day after the top Iraqi general claimed broad powers to search, detain and move residents from their homes. But even though an Iraqi announced the new phase of the security plan, it was clearly an American-led operation: only 200 Iraqi police officers and soldiers were involved, commanders said, working alongside about 2,500 Americans.

Col. Steve Townsend, commander of the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, said the operation in northeastern Baghdad had been pushed up a day because of a request from Iraq’s Shiite-led government.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has received blistering criticism for what some Iraqis have described as dangerous delays in setting the plan in motion. On Wednesday, he seemed determined to show some sign of action, even if the relatively low number of Iraqi troops involved was likely to add to concerns about the government’s ability to provide the troops it has promised.

“We’ve started a new phase today, the phase of building the state on the basis of two ideas,” he said at a news conference in the southern city of Karbala. “The basis of reconciliation — to include all those who want to support the country — and the basis of striking hard at those who want to rebel.”

At the White House, President Bush said that the new plan, fueled by the addition of more American troops, was “beginning to take shape” and that the goal was “relative peace,” though he did not refer to any specific operations. But he warned against high expectations.

“I say relative peace,” he said, “because if it’s, like, zero car bombings, it never will happen that way.”

Although the sweep in the three Shiite neighborhoods on Wednesday was the biggest operation in the capital, other efforts were felt across the city. Armored vehicles were set up on the border of Sadr City and Ur. Jets thundered overhead for much of the day and night.

The Mahdi Army has gone to ground.

Two reasons: one, they have their own plans.

Two, the Iraqi government is going to do the job for them.

But this is too easy. The discipline shown by JAM is amazing. Sunnis bombings all over place, no response. Weird. The US going to Shia areas to demonstrate force? Why, the Sunnis have been doing the bombing.

Instead of the propeganda that JAM was fracturing, the opposite is true. This kind of discipline indicated a level of control which is amazing. If there was a splinter movement, they would have done something.

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