Iraqis Claim U.S. Soldiers Beat Zarqawi to Death
New Questions are being raised over the circumstances of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. U.S. military officials initially claimed that Zarqawi died when a U.S. F-16 dropped two 500 pound bombs on his hideout outside of the town of Hibhib. But on Friday the military admitted Zarqawi survived the initial bombing and was semi-conscious when Iraqi and U.S. officials arrived at the scene. The U.S. maintains he died on a stretcher while being treated by U.S. personnel. But an Iraqi police lieutenant told the Los Angeles Times that Zarqawi died after a U.S. soldier repeatedly stepped on his chest, causing blood to flow from his mouth and nose. The officer said U.S. troops removed Zarqawi from an Iraqi ambulance and placed him on the ground. Then a U.S. soldier tried to question Zarqawi and began stepping on his chest. Another Iraqi man who lived nearby told Associated Press Television News that he had witnessed Americans beating Zarqawi. He said "They stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose.” The top American commander in Iraq on Sunday rejected these accounts saying they were "baloney.” General George Casey said, "the idea that there were people there beating him is just ludicrous." The U.S. military has finished an autopsy on Zarqawi but has not released the findings.
Bush Considers Keeping 50,000 Troops In Iraq Indefinitely
In other news on Iraq, President Bush is planning to meet today at Camp David with top military and civilian advisers today to discuss the future role of the United States in Iraq. This comes as the New York Times reports that the Bush administration is considering keeping at least 50,000 troops in Iraq for years to come, possibly for decades – just as it has in Korea.
GOP Lawmakers OK Permanent Military Bases in Iraq
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers appear to be giving the Pentagon the go-ahead to build permanent military bases in Iraq. Last week lawmakers quietly removed a provision that would have blocked the military from establishing permanent bases in Iraq. Congresswoman Barbara Lee criticized the move. She said "The perception that the U.S. intends to occupy Iraq indefinitely is fueling the insurgency and making our troops more vulnerable.”