In case you haven’t figured it out from the utter lack of coverage, the US Military has been kicking butt in Iraq. The surge help our forces reach that critical mass of manpower. Coupled with the additional time, defections, and other gains – the point spread on this has shifted considerably in the last 6 months. The underdog Al-Qaeda now just looks like a dog and a rather small one at that.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an “extraordinary crisis”. Last year’s mass defection of ordinary Sunnis from al-Qaeda to the US military “created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight”. The terrorist group’s security structure suffered “total collapse”.

These are the words not of al-Qaeda’s enemies but of one of its own leaders in Anbar province — once the group’s stronghold. They were set down last summer in a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an al-Qaeda base near Samarra in November.

The US military released extracts from that letter yesterday along with a second seized in another November raid that is almost as startling.

That second document is a bitter 16-page testament written last October by a local al-Qaeda leader near Balad, north of Baghdad. “I am Abu-Tariq, emir of the al-Layin and al-Mashahdah sector,” the author begins. He goes on to describe how his force of 600 shrank to fewer than 20.

“We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers,” he says. “Those people were nothing but hypocrites, liars and traitors and were waiting for the right moment to switch sides with whoever pays them most.”

Assuming the two documents are authentic — and the US military insists that they are — they provide a rare insight into an organisation thrown into turmoil by the rise of the Awakening movement. More than 80,000 Sunnis have joined the tribal groups of “concerned local citizens” [CLCs] that have helped to eject al-Qaeda from swaths of western and northern Iraq, including much of Baghdad. – Al-Qaeda leaders admit: ‘We are in crisis. There is panic and fear’

Most Democrats have wisely dropped the war issue and simply hope no one really notices, but Speaker Pelosi always comes through when you need her. The following was an exchange on Late Edition on Sunday:

Wolf Blitzer: “You’re not worried all the gains that have been achieved over the past year in Iraq might be lost?”

Speaker Pelosi: “There haven’t been gains, Wolf. The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure! The troops have succeeded. God bless them. We owe them the greatest debt of gratitude, the sacrifice, their patriotism, and for their courage, and to their families as well. This is a — a disaster, and we cannot perpetuate it. We have to make decisions. And this is — the loss of life of nearly 4,000 of our troops, an average of 800 a year, tens of thousands injured; some of them permanently, blind, amputations.”

Madame Speaker runs the gamut in a short reply. 1) No Gains 2) Ok there were gains, but they haven’t produced the desired effect. (failure) 3) Failure, Failure! 4) The troops have succeeded. 5) If you’re not horrified that this 5 year war has killed as many Americans as auto accidents did last month, there have also been injuries over there. Injuries (some of the permanent!) in war! Disaster.