Morning Report 8/1/05
As their country plummeted into all-out chaos last week, Iraq's journalists had a chance to grill Secretary of War Don Rumsfeld in person. The scene was a press stakeout of Rumsfeld and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari on July 27 in Baghdead. Jaafari, after making brief remarks, said, "I would like to leave the floor to Secretary Rumsfeld, whom I welcome."
"Thank you so much, Prime Minister," Rumsfeld replied.
But no thank you. After Rumsfeld made his own brief remarks, he said to the press gaggle:
- Tough questions to the Prime Minister—(Laughter). I'm just a visitor.
Like hell he is, as the first question from a reporter—definitely not a stage-managed "local man"—proved:
- Media: [inaudible] from the Europe [inaudible] Iraq. I carry a message from my heart to the Secretary of Defense, first of all we thank you for the effort you are expending. But however, this but carries with it both the [inaudible] and the pain of the mothers and the families of Iraq because of the wrong-killing that is happening on the Iraqi streets. We understand that there is a great threat against the U.S. forces on the Iraqi street but [inaudible] that Iraqi life and blood should be cheap to them. This happens because of danger or because of wrong actions. We ask Your Excellency to give this message to the U.S. forces so that they may see it with the Iraqi people and be careful about the many lives that are at stake.
My question is to the Prime Minister. Has there been a discussion about the reduction of U.S. forces in the cities and in the streets of Iraq?
"Wrong-killing"? Sounds like dead-checking, doesn't it?
Rumsfeld, as he promised, was mum. But Jaafari told the questioner:
- "Before I answer your question I thank you very much to give this message to Secretary Rumsfeld. And this is the opportunity to tell you that there was a good meeting between me and General Casey [inaudible] and this is the wrong-killing of the Iraqi [civilians]. And I have asked for an investigation and the apology to the families of the victims. And even to the point we discussed compensation.
"General Casey has addressed a letter to me that he is investigating this matter and I think there is no disagreement at all on the issue because the Iraqi, the MNFI, and the U.S. forces have come here to preserve and defend Iraqi life and we hope that these events will not repeat."
Rumsfeld's intimidation worked. He faced no direct questions from either foreign or U.S. reporters. In fact, only one more question was posed; Jaafari was asked whether there's a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Why ask the Iraqis? The start of a major U.S. pullout really does depend on how soon elections take place. But we're not talking about any future voting in Iraq. The vote that matters is the one already scheduled for November 2006 in the United States.
If more than 100,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq by the congressional elections, the GOP could be sunk.