U.S. military trains, equips its enemies
Just when it seems the headlines from Iraq can't get any more outlandish, we get this: The U.S. government has been training and equipping Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army — the very militia that Team Bush considers the greatest threat to stability in Iraq. The McClatchy Newspapers report:
After U.S. units pounded al-Sadr's men in August 2004, the cleric apparently decided that instead of facing American tanks, he'd use the Americans' plans to build Iraqi security forces to rebuild his own militia.
So while Iraq's other main Shiite militia, the Badr Brigade, concentrated in 2005 on packing Iraqi intelligence bureaus with high-level officers who could coordinate sectarian assassinations, al-Sadr went after the rank and file.
His recruits began flooding into the Iraqi army and police, receiving training, uniforms and equipment either directly from the U.S. military or from the American-backed Iraqi Defense Ministry.
And what has this strategy yielded?
"Half of them are [Mahdi army]. They'll wave at us during the day and shoot at us during the night," said 1st Lt. Dan Quinn, a platoon leader in the Army's 1st Infantry Division…. "People (in America) think it's bad, but that we control the city [Baghdad]. That's not the way it is. They control it, and they let us drive around. It's hostile territory."