A suicide car bomber drove into a line of about 400 volunteers for the Iraqi National Guard and police force today in Hilla, south of Baghdad, killing at least 122 people and wounding at least 170, an official at the Interior Ministry said.Over the past few months, Americans have heard a steady stream of reports about how the security situation in Iraq has improved. That message quickly wilts when insurgents are able to inflict their deadliest attack of the war.
It was the deadliest single attack since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.
Just for the record, those rosier-than-reality security assessments have included:
"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hailed what he described as progress in Iraqi security forces after seeing some of them in action today ... 'There's no question progress has been made,' Rumsfeld said of Iraqi forces. 'The professionalism of these units is advancing.' "
Associated Press, Feb. 11, 2005
"(Prime Minister Ayad) Allawi continues to insist that security in Iraq is improving ..."
Newsday, Dec. 15, 2004
" 'Every day, the Iraqi army, police and department of border enforcement demonstrate their ability to carry out their mission, while relying less and less on their coalition partners,' (U.S. Major General John Batiste) said."
Voice of America, Jan. 14, 2005
"On Monday, American and Iraqi officials repeated assertions that despite the (Jan. 3) deadly attacks, Iraqi police and soldiers are improving and that progress is being made on security. The governor of Babil declared his province 'safe and secure.' "
Chicago Tribune, Jan. 4, 2005