In Sunday's New York Times, only one article filed from Iraq. It runs on A8 and isn't all that lengthy but Alissa J. Rubin's "Sunnis Say Law Opening Jobs to Ex-Baathist Would Do More Harm Than Good" is a pretty important article.
Iraq's Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi noted he did not support the proposed law that would allegedly take care of Paul Bremer's de-Baathifcation program (that would mean it would be a de-de-Baathification proposal). The bill has passed Parliament, Rubin explains, but CIA asset and one-time Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi is insisting if the bill becomes a law "that all former Baathists now serving in the security services would lose their jobs, a total of 7,000 people" and is complaining that Parliament didn't read the bill before passing it ("People should pay attention to what they are discussing and voting on"). Chalabi still wants to be re-installed and is working on Sunni programs to try to be seen as a reach-across-the-aisle type (he's Shia) so he is focused on pensions for Baathists at present.
Rubin puts forward this claiam: "The United States initially said little when the legislation was passed, and American officials said recently that they were still trying to figure out its implications." And that's it. That's all the US said? Really?
Did I drop acid last week?
I seem to remember a little thing called the State of the Union address being delivered by the Bully Boy, as is Constitutionally mandated, and Bully Boy bragging about the 'progress' in Iraq. I seem to remember him stating:
Progress in the provinces must be matched by progress in Baghdad. We're seeing some encouraging signs. The national government is sharing oil revenues with the provinces. The parliament recently passed both a pension law and de-Baathification reform. They're now debating a provincial powers law.
I seem to remember that being passed off as 'progress.' So I don't grasp how a reporter can say that "The United States initially said little when the legislation was passed, and American officials said recently that they were still trying to figure out its implication." In fact, I believe a paper would write that sentence up as, "Although the United Sates initially said little when the legislation was passed and American officials said recently that they were still trying to figure out its implication, however Bush touted the legislation in his State of the Union address on Monday."
With the exception of that passage, it's a strong article and Rubin goes on to discuss Friday's Baghdad bombings (noting that the toll is now 98 dead and one-hundred and twenty-three injured) and does a strong job of conveying how little -- despite a multitude of claims -- is still known about the two women bombers.
But, regarding de-de-Baathification, it's already moot. Amit R. Paley and Joshua Partlow's "Iraqi Leaders Allow Controversial Baathist Law to Take Effect" (Washington Post):
Iraq's presidency council said that controversial legislation, promoted as a way to return former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to government, became law Sunday despite objections by Iraq's highest-ranking Sunni Arab government official.
But the status of the law, one of the key benchmarks for political progress demanded by the United States, remained shrouded by the same confusion and strife that surround much of Iraq's political process.
The three-member presidency council said in a statement that the legislation, passed by parliament Jan. 12, was now "considered as approved," even though aides said that Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni and a member of the council, refused to sign it. Council advisers said a bill approved by parliament automatically takes effect 10 days after the council receives it if the members fail to unanimously approve or veto the law.
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