Coalition death toll in Iraq hits 4,000

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — The number of coalition military deaths in the war in Iraq has reached 4,000.

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Sara Salazar kisses the grave marker of her grandson, U.S. Army Pfc. Bruce Salazar, in Fort Stewart, Georgia, on Thursday.

 The gloomy milestone was reached as a U.S. general said there has been a rise in insurgents booby-trapping houses.

Most of the fatalities throughout the Iraq war — 3,702 — have been U.S. military service members. The nearly 300 others hail from countries such as Italy, Poland and Ukraine, that have supported the U.S. effort, which began in March 2003.

The numbers are based on a CNN Library count of official figures from the various countries involved in the Iraq war.

Of the U.S. deaths, 3,047 came in hostile circumstances and 655 in non-combat situations. Forty-four troops have died this month. Britain, which has command of coalition troops in southern Iraq, has suffered 168 deaths, 132 of them in hostile circumstances.

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Guns for hire: Secrecy, torture, religious zeal distinguish mercenaries

Paul J. Nyden

Iraq and Afghanistan dominated our news headlines. But our media continue to overlook the growing privatization of military operations — a major historical development.

George W. Bush vigorously backs privatization and frequently awards huge contracts to companies owned by political contributors, such as Halliburton and Blackwater.

During his years in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton also embraced the emerging military privatization.

Today, our government pays mercenaries billions of dollars to fight and kill “enemies,” protect government officials and deliver food.

American taxpayers pay the bill. But few know much about the growth of private military companies, or PMCs.

Two new books — Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Robert Young Pelton’s Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror — tell that story.

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Exclusive excerpt: The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America

By Peter Dale Scott

Terror, oil and the “shadow government”

In this exclusive excerpt from his powerful new book, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press), UC Berkeley professor emeritus Peter Dale Scott asks whether there is a connection between America’s historical use of terror as a political weapon and the recent moves by the Bush administration to suspend the Constitution and create a “shadow government” in the wake of the next terrorist attack:

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Briton killed by Kabul colleagues

A BRITISH man working for a private security company was shot dead yesterday in Afghanistan by two co-workers.

Richard Adamson, a former Royal Marine, was employed by ArmorGroup, which protects British government personnel in the country as part of the reconstruction effort.

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