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Baghdad bombings outrage Iraq's Parliament

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military had warned of an imminent attack hours before last week's deadly bombings in Baghdad, but the tip came too late to act on, Iraqi security officials said Sunday as outraged lawmakers pressed for answers about Iraq's ability to protect the capital.

Even news that 13 al-Qaida-linked suspects have been detained in connection with the bombings did little to quell the angry Parliament members, who shouted down security officials as they tried to defend their forces.

The grilling in Parliament was the third session since Tuesday's attacks that put government officials and security brass on the hot seat.

It also suggested that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may need much bolder action to repair the government's image heading toward March elections.

So far, he shook up the Baghdad security command and some officers have been placed in custody for possible negligence after bombings that left at least 127 dead and more than 500 injured.

But many lawmakers — mostly political foes — have refused to let the government off the hook.

For them it was prime-time political theater with lengthy portions broadcast on state television. Some jabbed their fingers toward security chiefs and demanded more details and accountability.

"We need you to tell us the truth about when the Iraqi forces will be fully capable of protecting the country," said Maha al-Douri, a Shiite lawmaker.

The bombings were the third such attack since August against government buildings, raising serious questions about the abilities of Iraqi forces ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops at the end of August.

The former head of Baghdad security command, Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, took the brunt of the backlash on Sunday. He was demoted to No. 2 after the blasts.

On the morning of the attacks, he said Baghdad's security command received intelligence from the U.S. military that insurgents would soon carry out three attacks, including one in or near the protected Green Zone, home to the prime minister's office, Parliament and the U.S. Embassy.

He said the tip indicated there would be two car bomb attacks in the morning and one later in the day. Three major explosions shook Baghdad about five hours after the Americans notified the Iraqis. Qanbar said there was not enough time to chase leads or enough detail in the U.S. intelligence to reassign units.

U.S. military officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Baghdad bombings outrage Iraq's Parliament 12/13/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:51pm]
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