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USA Today reported on September 2 that Iraq is preparing to buy as much as $13 billion in U.S. arms and military equipment. The report cited U.S. officials who said the large purchase of tanks, ships, and military hardware is an indication that Iraqi-U.S. military ties will remain close for years to come.

Francois-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, was once quoted as saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” It is this enlightened philosophy that helped shape the greatest governmental document ever written, the United States Constitution, and in fact the quote well articulates the First Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which grants American citizens the right to freedom of speech. However, what most Americans do not realize is that the freedom of speech is both a blessing and burden, as it allows them to express their thoughts freely, but also places them in the position of having to decipher truth from fiction among waves of reports, a task many Americans reluctantly accept.

ObamaPresident Barack Obama claimed August 31 in an Oval Office address to the nation that “tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”

Speaking in a television address broadcast nationally just hours before the formal end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq on August 31, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the nation it was a "bright day for the people of Iraq."

Launched in 1973, the Trilateral Commission (TC) listed an initial roster of 187 members, all of whom hailed from three areas: Western Europe, North America, and Japan (hence the name Tri-lateral).

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