Friday, September 29, 2006

NYT: "After Burst of Violence, as Many as 60 Bodies Are Found in Baghdad" (Michael Luo)

As many as 60 bodies, many of them shot in the head at close range and bearing signs of torture, were discovered across the city on Thursday, an Interior Ministry official said.
[. . .]
Meanwhile, one of most damaging of several bombings in the capital on Thursday occurred in Shaab, a mostly Shiite neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad that had just been the focus of one of the concentrated sweeps by American and Iraqi troops trying to clear and hold problem-plagued areas as part of a new security plan for the capital.
A car parked near the headquarters of the Iraqi Army unit in the neighborhood exploded as a convoy of Iraqi military vehicles passed, an Interior Ministry official said. The blast, at about 7:15 a.m., killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded eight others, as well as four civilians.
The blast was the first of several explosions across the city. Another car bomb exploded shortly afterward in Baya, a mixed neighborhood in the southwestern part of the city, killing one resident and wounding four others, the Interior Ministry official said.
A roadside bomb tore into a police patrol in Karada, a commercial district in central Baghdad at 8:30 a.m., wounding two policemen. Forty minutes later, another explosive device blew up in Yarmouk, in the western part of the city, killing a policeman and wounding three civilians.

The above look at Thursday in Iraq is from Michael Luo's "After Burst of Violence, as Many as 60 Bodies Are Found in Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times. And already today, at least seven more corpses have been found in Baghdad. Moving to Paul von Zielbauer's "Iraqi Journalists Add Laws to List of Dangers:"

Ahmed al-Karbouli, a reporter for Baghdadiya TV in the violent city of Ramadi, did his best to ignore the death threats, right up until six armed men drilled him with bullets after midday prayers.
He was the fourth journalist killed in Iraq in September alone, out of a total of more than 130 since the 2003 invasion, the vast majority of them Iraqis. But these days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters' only threat. Men with gavels are, too.
Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein's penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

So the 'liberation' includes no real concept of a free press (why have a free one when the US government can pay for one that plants the latest spin from Operation Happy Talk), worsening conditions for women but 'freedom is on the march,' to hear Bully Boy tell it, stepping on the backs of many.

Paul Bremer signaled that there would be no respect for the press when his ego insisted a paper be shut down (for a cartoon) which built into the spring 2004 action in Falluja and then into the slaughter in November of 2004. Of course there's no respect for a free press. And when puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki decreed that 'news' incited violence, there wasn't a great deal of outcry over that. (I believe that was mainly due to the fact that all things media, big and small, were focused on Israel and Iraq fell off the radar.) On the al-Maliki's attack on press freedoms, von Zielbauer notes:

On Sept. 7, the police sealed the offices of Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite news channel, for what the government said was inflammatory reporting. And the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least three Iraqi journalists have served time in prison for writing articles deemed criminally offensive.
The office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has lately refused to speak with news organizations that report on sectarian violence in ways that the government considers inflammatory; some outlets have been shut down.

With a look at the reality of life in Iraq, where people have gone beyond carrying dual papers (to flash at 'security' depending upon what they think they want to see) and beyond switching homes, Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "At Checkpoints in Baghdad, Disguise Is a Lifesaving Ritual" (Washington Post):

Every time he drove, he feared this moment. Now, it was too late.
As Omar Ahmed neared the checkpoint, he recalled, he saw armed men dressed in black ordering passengers out of a minivan and checking their identity cards. Some were told to get back into the van. Others were taken to a Shiite mosque across the street. The gunmen clutched Glock pistols, normally used by the Iraqi police.

Ahmed, 30, was a Sunni Muslim. And he was in Shaab, a volatile, Shiite Muslim-dominated neighborhood. Questions raced through his mind: Was the mosque a base for a Shiite militia? Were the men members of a Shiite death squad?
So Ahmed set in motion a ritual that many Sunnis across a divided Baghdad now practice. He pushed in a cassette tape with Shiite religious songs and turned up the volume. He wrapped a piece of green cloth that he brought from the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites, around his gearshift.
And he hung a small picture of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad and the most revered Shiite saint, from his rearview mirror.
To the world outside, he was now a Shiite.

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