August 4, 2005

Dying for the Truth

Marines aren't the only ones dying in Iraq this week. An independent jouralist named Steven Vincent was killed in Basra Tuesday. He was documenting the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in southern Iraq most recently in the NY Times:

As has been widely reported of late, Basran politics (and everyday life) is increasingly coming under the control of Shiite religious groups, from the relatively mainstream Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to the bellicose followers of the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Recruited from the same population of undereducated, underemployed men who swell these organizations' ranks, many of Basra's rank-and-file police officers maintain dual loyalties to mosque and state.

In May, the city's police chief told a British newspaper that half of his 7,000-man force was affiliated with religious parties. This may have been an optimistic estimate: one young Iraqi officer told me that "75 percent of the policemen I know are with Moktada al-Sadr - he is a great man." And unfortunately, the British seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

It is widely speculated that he was targeted for the work he was doing. The man was outside the protected Green Zone and not embedded with the military. He was working the streets trying to bring the truth home. At least 66 journalists and media support workers killed have been killed and 29 journalists kidnapped in Iraq. They are dying so that we will know what is happening. Vincent had a blog called In the Red Zone. This is from his last post, talking about an American Captain working on the reconstruction:

Not for the first time, I felt I was living in a Graham Greene novel, this about a U.S. soldier--call it The Naive American--who finds what works so well in Power Point presentations has unpredictable results when applied to realities of Iraq. Or is that the story of our whole attempt to liberate this nation?

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