Iraqi Correspondents, Blogging for McClatchy, Provide Brutal Insight

By: Greg Mitchell

A few months ago, the McClatchy bureau in Baghdad — from which some of the best reporting on the war (going back to its Knight Ridder days) has emerged — launched a blog featuring dispatches by some of its native-born correspondents. Their first names are deleted for security reasons.

If you haven’t been following it, you’ve missed some remarkably revealing commentary and news. It’s called “Inside Iraq,” and it is.

Here are five examples from recent days.


Feb. 18:

Today was a sad day; our staff lost another member who left this morning. Every one else is new for me and another colleague of mine. The new guys are great and wonderful persons but it is so hard to make new friends over and over.

I looked up my phone list, name by name, some were killed, others are missing, many left the country and few are still here in one piece. It makes me frustrated cause I know for a fact we will not see each other again. Even if they come back who says i will be alive to see them again.

i think it is about time to say I have had enough, I will not make any new friends that will be killed, kidnapped or leave the country.

To all my friends; those who are still here, who left, missing or killed: No one will take your place…


Also Feb. 15:

While I was walking, I was looking at the lines of cars waiting to be searched. When I reached the check point, I found out 4 Iraqis soldiers, three of them were busy with things have nothing to do with the security plan like smoking and talking to each other and the fourth was working as a traffic policemen, he was giving the drivers the permission to pass, they didn?t have any equipment showing that they are really searching the cars looking for the bombed ones and the soldier was just looking at the faces of the drivers without even asking them for their papers.

At that moment, I was sure that this plan had failed. In fact, the long lines of cars make these cars an easy target and any attack can cause big casualties.

What kind of security plan is this? How will it work with this mess? Where is the new equipment to discover the car bombs the government talked about ? All these questions came to my mind at the same moment I passed the check point.

I hope to find answers to my questions and thank you again Mr. President and Mr. PM for the new fitness plan (this is the best name of the security plan) hoping that the plan returns back fitness and health to all Iraqis.


Feb. 12:

We were asked to send the next of kin to whom the remains of my nephew, killed on Monday in a horrific explosion downtown, can be handed over. The young men of the family, as was customary, rose to go.

?NO!? cried his mother. ?Isn?t my son enough?? Must we lose more of our youth?? You know there are unknowns who wait at the Morgue to either kill or kidnap the men who dare reach its doors. I will go.?

So we went, his mum, his other aunt and I.

I was praying all the way there.

I never thought a day would come when it was the women of the family, who would be safer on the roads. All the men are potential terrorists it seems, and are therefore to be cut down on sight. This is the logic of today, is it not? To kill evil before it even has a chance to take root.

When we got there, we were given his remains. And remains they were. From the waist down was all they could give us. ?We identified him by the cell phone in his pants? pocket. If you want the rest, you will just have to look for yourselves. We don?t know what he looks like.?

Now begins a horror that surpasses anything I could have possibly envisioned . We were led away, and before long a foul stench clogged my nose and I retched. With no more warning we came to a clearing that was probably an inside garden at one time; all round it were patios and rooms with large-pane windows to catch the evening breeze Baghdad is renowned for. But now it had become a slaughterhouse, only instead of cattle, all around were human bodies. On this side; complete bodies; on that side halves; and EVERYWHERE body parts.

We were asked what we were looking for, ? upper half? replied my companion, for I was rendered speechless. ?Over there?. We looked for our boy?s broken body between tens of other boys? remains?; with our bare hands sifting them and turning them.

We found him millennia later, took both parts home, and began the mourning ceremony.

Can Hollywood match our reality?? I doubt it.

February 9:

Time to head home. It has been a relatively quiet day with the curfew on from eleven am to three pm. Now starts the heartache of convincing a taxi driver that it’s worth risking his life to take me home.

I live in an area that has been a battleground for more than four months, the tug of war between the Mujahideen and the Mehdi Army has frightened off all but the hardiest transients. When I do find a willing driver, after a number of refusals and headshakes, he either grumbles all the way there, which hardens my heart somewhat as to his safety, or he turns out to be quite the gentleman. It’s then that I start getting butterflies. For as soon as I get home and give him the fare, I turn away from the car and quickly enter my door , leaving him to his fate.

I pray for the safety of all the taxi drivers who take me home, and truely hope they reach their homes safely. But the risk remains and the possibility that my trip home may have cost someone their life keeps me awake at night.

February 8:

I turned the TV on to watch the Iraqi national TV news. The channel name is Al Iraqiya and it is funded by the government. One of the headlines was capturing a murderer in Diwania city, south Iraq.

Police found two dead bodies buried at the suspect?s house, the news said. Then the channel showed a savage and cruel scene of a man putting his hands into a pile covered with black mud.

I didn?t recognize what the man is doing till he started showing the camera a human wrist, then I realized; this is a dead body and the man is digging in it with his bare hands?

God I can not continue describing it ? but the man continued to show the camera other parts that he was digging out… They didn?t stop it and the camera man was zooming in to show the details.

They didn?t even apologize or warn the viewers? they just think it is normal and they kept showing it for two days

The Iraqi media now is helping to turn the Iraqi people into beasts, as we don?t have enough…

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