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December 29, 2007: U.S. casualties in Iraq this month are at the lowest they have ever been since U.S. troops entered the country in early 2003. At the same time, American soldiers and marines are still conducting a lot of raids, but are doing it in places the previously tended to stay out of because of the high risk. But it's just those high risk areas where the worst of the bad guys tended to live. So the current raids are yielding lots more information on who was involved in the violence over the last five years, and how they did it. While a lot of the terrorists have been killed, and others have fled the country, they leave documents, family and friends behind. They also leave things like a rifle taken from one of three U.S. troops captured in May of 2007. There has been an intense search for those three since then. One of the soldiers was soon found dead, but the fate of the other two has never been confirmed. But recently, when the rifle was found hidden in a home, the occupant proceeded to provide useful information.
A lot of other useful information, that never makes the news, is collected every day. These little bits of data are filling in pictures of who current terrorist leaders and technicians are, and where they may be. The army's use of databases has made every little bit of data more useful. Enormous amounts of data have been collected on the families of known terrorists. A lot of these violent groups tend to be family affairs. In Iraq, people tend to trust only family, and even there one must be careful. So American troops, armed with quick access to these personnel files, know who to arrest, who to let go, and who to question intensively. Those being questioned are also shaken at the depth of knowledge their interrogators often have of who's who in Iraq, even at the village or neighborhood level. It's not so easy to fool the Americans any more.