The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees -- the equivalent of an entire company -- and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit.
"They paralyzed the market when they came," Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. "This was only for the media."
He added, "This will not change anything."
The above is from Kirk Semple's "McCain Wrong on Iraq Security, Merchants Say" in this morning's New York Times. My favorite quote on Crazy John McCain remains the one by merchant Abu Ammar that Mussab Al-Khairalla (Reuters) reported -- Ammar declared, "Who said there was security? I told him there were snipers who were really harming us. I told him the plan had improved security but Shorja still wasn't safe." He told McCain, while McCain was photo-opping, but McCain didn't care, he had a wave of Operation Happy Talk to sell. Remember, this is the alleged "Straight Talker."
This was a photo op, nothing but that. So someone needs to ask the question -- is it worth a death for craven politicians to get a photo op? If a US service member had died Sunday, would it have been worth it for a photo op? At some point, that may very well happen and politicians need to think very carefully about that before taking part in this nonsense because as bad as Crazy John probably thinks the press has been on this (it's told the truth which is the job of the press -- though they frequently forget that), it would be even worse if a US service member had lost a life during Crazy John's photo op. Photo-ops are not 'fact finding missions.'
Taking part in the operation John McCain did on Sunday speaks to someone's own vanity, not to a desire to see life as it is. For McCain's stroll, over 100 service members had to take part, they had to add 'clampdown' to the 'crackdown.' What if one of the many US helicopters overhead had been shot down? Crazy John and everyone else needs to think about that because if a US service member loses a life for some politician's vanity photo-ops, the resulting attention will not be pretty.
Let's note Michael Luo's "Many Lawmakers Go to Iraq, but Few Change Their Minds" from this morning's New York Times:
Visits to Iraq have become a required part of the political wardrobe for lawmakers hoping to be taken seriously in the debate over the future of the war.
Over the past two months, as lawmakers have debated the supplemental spending bill for the war and the troop buildup, they have brought up their trips again and again, wielding their experiences as rhetorical weapons to bolster their case.
According to the Pentagon, as of mid-March, 365 members of Congress had visited the country since May 2003, when Mr. Bush declared the end of major combat operations. But it is unclear just how illuminating the trips have been.
The duration and scope of Congressional visits are tightly controlled. Lawmakers from opposing parties often travel together, but draw opposite conclusions from the same trip on the war's progress. And while lawmakers say they are deeply moved by their experiences, they almost always return with their previous convictions firmly reinforced.
Do they think they're the USO? Do they think they're seeing life as it is? This is paid by the tax payer and the next presidential candidate that goes over there for a photo op should be asked why they are there and not let off with some fluff answer. Quit trying to score campaign points by putting the safety of US service members at risk.
Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "Truck Bomber Kills Schoolgirls in Kirkuk" (Washington Post):
A suicide truck bomber rammed into a police station compound near an elementary school in the northern city of Kirkuk on Monday, killing 15 people, including schoolgirls, and wounding scores of others, witnesses and police reported.
At the main hospital in the city, the courtyard was filled with injured children in bloodstained blue uniforms, a Washington Post special correspondent reported from the scene. Many had their heads and arms wrapped in bandages. Some clutched bloodstained books. A baby girl lay dead in the emergency room from shrapnel that had torn through her body. Doctors and nurses broke into tears because they couldn't save her.
Naz Omar Shafiq, a fifth-grader, said she was attending her last class when the explosion rocked the Raheem Awa school, nestled in a majority Kurdish neighborhood, shattering glass and filling classrooms with smoke.
"I saw two of my girlfriends, who were sitting near the window, lying on the floor bleeding. They could not talk or move," she recalled. Flying shrapnel and glass struck her head and legs. "I was so scared. I screamed, crying for my mother and father."
The attack came a day after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed "cautious optimism" that progress was taking place in Iraq under a nearly seven-week-old security offensive. His comments followed a heavily guarded visit with a Republican congressional delegation to central Baghdad's Shorja market.
Again, if Crazy John thinks the press is bad (he has only himself to blame for his fluff statements), he should be really glad no US service member lost a life for his photo op.