Latest from McClatchy Baghdad Bureau: Orphans of the Storm

By: E&P Staff For several weeks now, E&P has been featuring the haunting postings of McClatchy's Iraqi staffers from their Inside Iraq blog. But McClatchy's bureau chief, Laila Fadel, has also been blogging at the newspaper company's newly redesigned site for its Washington operation, at That site now carries the legend at top: "Truth to Power."

Her blog is called Baghdad Observer. She has covered the war in Iraq for Knight Ridder and now McClatchy on and off since June 2005.

Here is her latest this week.

It was an emotional day. My Iraqi colleague and I returned to the bureau in tears after hearing one story after the others of brutal killings at the hands of the Mahdi Army. It was Lord of the Flies, young boys ruling and killing in a Baghdad neighborhood.

Sahar went to the office and I went to my room to pull myself together. Then I walked towards the office and saw Mohammed, one of our staffers, staring out the window. His eyes were red. He didn't hear me call him. Then he looked at me blankly.

He described the pictures of the 24 starving special-needs children, some chained to cribs that CBS had aired. Orphans in a government orphanage were discovered by U.S. soldiers. Their bodies were naked and emaciated. Nearby there were shelves of new clothes wrapped in plastic and canned food.

"A warehouse full with clothes and food and there are children starving and naked. This is the story of Iraq. This is just the story of Iraq," he said. "The government must go. Just quit."

At least 60 people died in a bombing. Surely just as many orphans were created from today's tragedy.

"60 more people dead, 60 more fathers and mothers," he said. "What happens to the orphans?"

He turned and walked away. Throughout the day he got calls from Iraqi friends in tears, enraged. One asked for the address. He wanted to find the man who did this. Another asked how he could help.

"We don't do this to children," he said. "They are too precious."


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