Friday, February 15, 2008

Alvarez and Sontag offer part four

A few months after Sgt. William Edwards and his wife, Sgt. Erin Edwards, returned to a Texas Army base from separate missions in Iraq, he assaulted her mercilessly. He struck her, choked her, dragged her over a fence and slammed her into the sidewalk.
As far as Erin Edwards was concerned, that would be the last time he beat her.
Unlike many military wives, she knew how to work the system to protect herself. She was an insider, even more so than her husband, since she served as an aide to a brigadier general at Fort Hood.
With the general's help, she quickly arranged for a future transfer to a base in New York. She pressed charges against her husband and secured an order of protection. She sent her two children to stay with her mother. And she received assurance from her husband's commanders that he would be barred from leaving the base unless accompanied by an officer.
Yet on the morning of July 22, 2004, William Edwards easily slipped off base, skipping his anger-management class, and drove to his wife’s house in the Texas town of Killeen. He waited for her to step outside and then, after a struggle, shot her point-blank in the head before turning the gun on himself.
During an investigation, Army officers told the local police that they did not realize Erin Edwards had been afraid of her husband. And they acknowledged that despite his restrictions, William Edwards had not been escorted off base "on every occasion," according to a police report.
That admission troubled the detective handling the case.
"I believe that had he been confined to base and had that confinement been monitored," said Detective Sharon L. Brank of the local police, "she would not be dead at his hands."

The above is the opening of part four of the series Lizette Alvarez and Deborah Sontag have been working on and this installment is entitled "When Strains on Military Families Turn Deadly" (New York Times). Their pieces usually run on Sunday and this one is lengthy and starts on the front page but runs on Friday instead of Sunday. That may be due to the holiday (Monday's holiday will bury a lot of Sunday front page stories that would normally be the news cycle come Monday morning) and it probably has a great deal to do with the 100 announced job cuts -- this article says "Job cuts, job shmuts, we're still the same paper." Which is why you also get two articles filed from Iraq. But if they want to reassure (with a board election looming) that the ship is being run well they might need to grasp that their online presence is important and the way this story is 'treated' reveals the many weaknesses and short comings. Using the link, you will see a 'multimedia' link -- slide show. You will learn this is part four of the series. You will not be provided with links to their previous reports. Unlike the Washington Post which has a folder for their veteran health care coverage, the Times doesn't for this series. This is part four and they seem to think just saying "PART FOUR!" is enough. Anyone dropping by for this story will have to hunt down the other three parts on their own, with no help from the paper.

Also in the paper today is Alissa J. Rubin's "U.N. to Help Organize Iraqi Elections Set for October" which is about the UN press conference yesterday and Rubin offers:

The problem is that many of the nation's most powerful political parties have divided up most of the seats on the Independent Higher Election Commission, which oversees national election policy. That means there are few, if any, independent brokers overseeing the election process, according to Iraqi academics and lawmakers.
Some other parties are not represented on the commission. Neither are new political entities, like the Awakening Councils, the local, predominantly Sunni Arab forces allied with the United States that do not yet hold political positions and do not have the pull to get appointments.
At the provincial level, political wrangling has stymied efforts to appoint local election commissions, meaning that no one is in place in those provinces to administer the elections. The United Nations said Wednesday that eight provinces, whose residents account for about 80 percent of Iraq's population, had not appointed local commissions.

Elections for the provinces at a time when over 4 million Iraqis are displaced (externally or internally)? The paper buries that point in the final paragraphs. Should they be allowed to vote in the provinces they lived in? If they're internally displaced and living in another province currently, should they be allowed to vote in their province of their origin?

The question deserves more exploration than the article gives it.

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