Thursday, April 12, 2007



As you now surely know, when Candidate McCain first made his absurd claim that things were so hunky-dory in Baghdad that he and Bill Bennett could open a casino go for a stroll through some neighborhoods, he wasn't talking about the Green Zone, which isn't really a neighborhood as much as a fortified, heavily guarded American enclave, the heart of the Occupation, which, of course, includes the puppet government. Sure, that pseudo neighborhood is safe enough for a stroll... often. But not always. Today was one of those days when you would have preferred being in a nice Indiana market, one in Indiana.

A suicide bomber managed to get into the Green Zone-- dubbed by locals "The Greed Zone"-- and... blow up.
At least two members of the Iraqi government have been killed in a suspected suicide bomb attack inside the Iraqi parliament, within Baghdad's high-security Green Zone.

Unconfirmed reports say a third person has died.

Other eyewitness reports suggest that up to six people may have been killed.

The explosion has been described as a blatant security breach in the third month of the US-Iraqi crackdown on violence in the capital.

As well as the parliament building, the complex also houses the British consulate.

Dozens of people were injured-- some critically-- as the blast tore through a cafeteria while lawmakers were eating lunch.

One politician said: "I am standing at the site of the explosion and looking at the severed legs of the person who carried out the operation."

McCain and his little shopping-mad Senator Mini-Me (R-SC) and Rep. Pence (R-IN) were far away from Iraq by then, back home calling for more endless, pointless, unwinnable war, for more of other peoples' sons and daughters to go occupy Iraq and fight and die there. Oh yeah-- and one of the bridges over the Tigris was blown up too.

But life in the Greed Zone goes on. Last week a friend of mine, a highly placed individual in a key job-- we'll call him Fred-- sent me a pdf of the State Department's Baghdad Weekly, a virtual chronicle of the cut-off and disconnected life of Americans living complacently in the midst of the Iraqi Civil War. I started writing about it and then was so sickened that I couldn't continue. There were stories about the "Tigris 6K Rowing Relay Race," scrabble tournaments, spades tournaments, the dominoes tournament, the bridge club, Karaoke, Texas Hold 'em pick up games, horseshoe tournaments, ping pong tournaments, the 5K Run "Peace Jog," extreme spinning (which I somehow suspect has nothing to do with Sufis), a women's 3-on-3 hoops tournament, and warnings about the dangers of smoking. What I found the most incongruous was the juxtaposition between a country and western night, a salsa night and a Middle Eastern night. A friend of mine was less surprised to find they were showing a movie called Left Behind: The World At War. Fred's latest e-mail didn't sound as much like life in the frat house. It was an April 11 notice to "all hands" from USM Operations entitled "Water Status is Amber."

Be advised that we are now implementing AMBER water status. 
1.  Green: Water supply is adequate, no additional conservation efforts are necessary

1. Yellow: Will usually be initiated when water services have been disrupted for 2 hours or more and the ETR is more than 12 hours

                                                               i.      KBR will monitor and report water level every four hours.
                                                             ii.      KBR Fire Department:
1.      Maintain full water tank levels in emergency response vehicles
2.      Coordinate with city services for emergency water support if needed
                                                            iii.      DCMA will inform KBR to execute a Letter of Technical Direction allowing Task Order 130 to draw water from Task Order 139 supplies at FOB Prosperity ROWPU intermediate storage bladder
                                                           iv.      Stop watering grass and all landscaping
                                                             v.      Cease operation of the KBR car wash station
                                                           vi.      Discontinue Full Service Laundry washing, remain open for drop off and pick up only
                                                          vii.      Shut down self-service laundries
                                                        viii.      Cease water replenishment for palace swimming pool
1. Amber: Will usually be initiated when water services have been disrupted for 6 hours or more and the ETR is more than 24 hours; execute the steps for phase Yellow, additionally;

                                                               i.      Limit cleaning to sanitary purposes only; as long as we are using latrines they need to be cleaned.
                                                             ii.      KBR will draw water from the fire station storage tanks if necessary; discontinue water draw when storage tanks level falls to 50% (DO NOT DRAW DOWN BELOW 50%)
1. Red: Will usually be initiated when water services have been disrupted for 6 hours or more and there is no reliable ETR

                                                               i.      Implement LSA water hours from 0500-0900 and 1700-2100 daily
USMI Emergency Operations Center 

There was also an Iraq Reconstruction newsletter filled with stats about oil extraction and electricity in "restive Anbar Province." They also mention a poll that struck me, which claims that "despite violence only 26% preferred life under Saddam."
One in four (26%) Iraqi adults have had a family relative murdered in the last three years, while 23% of those living in Baghdad have had a family/relative kidnapped in the last three years. These are among the findings released today from the largest poll into Iraqi opinion ever to be published. Carried out by UK research firm ORB, which has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005, the poll shows that despite the horrendous personal security problems only 26% of the country preferred life under the previous regime of Saddam Hussein, with almost half (49%) preferring life under the current political system. As one may expect, it is the Sunnis who are most likely to back the previous regime (51%) with the Shias (66%) preferring the current arrangements.

Something tells me a much greater percentage would prefer life in Indiana.

UPDATE Fubar over at the Needlenose had an interesting and telling comment on the Baghdad News worth taking a look at.

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