Friday, August 11, 2006

NYT: The paper has at least one grown up still in Baghdad

A belt packed with explosives worn by a man who apparently intended to blow himself up inside one of the holiest shrines of Shiite Islam exploded on Thursday during a police pat down at a checkpoint near the shrine, Iraqi officials said. At least 35 people were killed and more than 120 others were wounded, including Iranian pilgrims, the officials said.
[. . .]
The explosion on Thursday underscored the degradation of security in the spiritual heart of the Shiite-dominated south, an area once believed to be under the tight control of Iraqi and American forces. The most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, lives just blocks away from the shrine.
Other attacks around Iraq, mostly aimed at civilians, brought the death toll for the day to at least 48, even as additional Iraqi and American troops continued to deploy across Baghdad to try to bring a modicum of security to the capital.

The above is from "Blast Kills 35 Iraqis at Shiite Shrine in Najaf" in this morning's New York Times. If you're reading it and, remembering how the violence in Mosul the Friday before would be ignored by the paper, wondering how Paul von Zielbaur managed to notice actual events or thinking maybe Damien Cave stopped wondering if Mick Jagger dedicates "Fool to Cry" to him, stop puzzling. Apparently the Times has left one grown up in Iraq: Edward Wong.
Wong authored the piece.

On the subject of "Fool to Cry" Cave, we'll be picking up yesterday's embarrassment at The Third Estate Sunday Review this Sunday. There's only so much that can be done at any given time and we were discussing that hideous article at breakfast yesterday. We were already agreed on that before yesterday's e-mails (Ava and Jess note that Fool to Cry was a very popular e-mail topic yesterday) so heads up to that upcoming feature (which Dona swears "Will be done!").

Martha notes that Andy Mosher and Saad Sarhan cover the attack in the Washington Post with "Suicide Bomber Kills Dozens Outside Shiite Shrine in Iraq:"

The bombing was the latest in a string of sectarian attacks in Iraq. Also on Thursday, a Shiite militia was reported to have engaged in heavy fighting with a Sunni tribe in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government and U.S. military forces are pursuing a new security program aimed at stanching religious bloodshed.
[. . .]
Northeast of Baghdad, in the city of Baqubah, a commando brigade from the Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry raided the home of Delsooz Ahmed Mohammed, an ethnic Kurd who serves on the council of Diyala province.
According to another council member, Hussein al-Zubaidi, the commandos insulted Mohammed and broke some of his furniture before a ranking officer intervened and apologized.

Martha has another highlight and a question about it which we'll address in the next entry.

But for this entry, we're going to note the latest from AP:

The bodies of two American service members missing since a helicopter crash were found west of Baghdad, officials said Friday, while gunmen loyal to a radical Shiite cleric torched an office of the Iraqi president's Kurdish party Friday.
About 50 gunmen stormed the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, headed by President Jalal Talabani, beat up the guards and set the building on fire, said police Lt. Othman al-Lami. The attackers accused the party's official newspaper of criticizing Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yacoubi.

The sotto-voiced whisper from Centcom that two Americans died. Good thing they could pull the 'captors' story out of mothballs (a May arrest that drove the news cycle on Iraq -- always a small cycle, more like a tricycle, these days). If they hadn't, the press might have asked serious questions about the helicopter going down (it wasn't 'operator error') and not been so quick to accept the official line from Centcom. They might have asked why every detail came out a day after. A helicopter went down. Four were injured. Two were missing. The two were found dead. It's a news stories. But Centcom knows how to distract.

If the press hadn't all packed up and moved elsewhere, we might have serious coverage of what happened. Instead it will be forgotten shortly.

The coverage (mainstream or independent) isn't cutting it. The few who are covering the region (even Fool To Cry) deserve some credit for that in some form. Bad reporting or good, at least they're still covering it. The war hasn't stopped, the coverage largely has. There are consquences for that and we're seeing it play out.

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