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Daily Column
US Papers Sun: KDP a "Terrorist" Organization?
Translator's membership in group scotches green card app; McCain dogged by Iraq
By CHRIS ALLBRITTON 03/23/2008 01:45 AM ET
Happy Easter everyone. No single story dominates today's news, but The New York Times has the best/only coverage out of Baghdad proper while the Washington Post stirs up outrage over the case of a Kurdish translator unfairly tarred a terrorist.

Over there
The Times's Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Anwar J. Ali reports that four American soldiers were killed near Baghdad in the past two days, while north of Baghdad an American attack helicopter killed six people. Iraqi police said six were pro-American Sunni fighters. Three of the Americans died from a roadside bomb while one was killed by rocket or mortar fire. Two Iraqi civilians died in the first attack and four other soldiers were wounded in the second. Civilian deaths are on the rise in recent weeks. Details were hazy and in dispute in the attack that killed the six Sunni fighters. Just south of Samarra, a suicide bomber blew up a car near the mayor's house, killing three Iraqi cops guarding his house. The mayor was unharmed.

Michael Cooper, also of the Times, reports that Sen. John McCain, in his trip abroad last week, offered soothing words on consultations, global warming and Gitmo, but Iraq is still a millstone around his neck. Iraq is the single biggest reason for the off-a-cliff-like numbers defining American popularity abroad. McCain is also one of the biggest boosters of the war. The takeaway from this article? Europeans and Middle Easterners are still taking a wait and see stance regarding McCain.

Home front
The Post's Karen DeYoung has an outrageous fronter on the troubles facing Saman Kareem Ahmad, a stalwart translator for U.S. forces nearly four years in Anbar province. He's in the States now and has applied for a green card under a plan to allow up to 500 translators a year immigrate to the U.S. But his application was denied because Ahmad, a Kurd, was a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the ruling parties in Iraq and a valuable ally in toppling Saddam Hussein. But the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services determined the KDP "conducted full-scale armed attacks and helped incite rebellions against Hussein's government, most notably during the Iran-Iraq war, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom." Thus, it's a terrorist organization and Ahmad is ineligible. Yes, you read that right. A group that fought against Saddam Hussein for years on the side of the United States is considered a terror group because it attempted to overthrow a government. In all probability, this decision will be reversed because of the Post's front-page attention, but it's simply outrageous that it got this far. As his green card sponsor wrote in a letter to the agency: "I don't know what a foreigner has to do that is greater than what Saman Ahmad has done in service to his American allies."

In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration play hardball against its diplomatic opponents in the U.N., reports Colum Lynch of the Post. The White House spied on its allies, threatened trade reprisals against reluctant friendly countries and pressed for the recall of U.N. envoys that opposed the U.S. march to war. All this is detailed in "A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons," an upcoming book by Heraldo Muñoz, Chile's ambassador to the world body. And the bullying didn't stop there. "In the aftermath of the invasion, allies loyal to the United States were rejected, mocked and even punished" for their refusal to back a U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Saddam Hussein's government, Muñoz writes.

The Post's Josh White and Robert Barnes pick up the case of the two American citizens detained in Iraq for alleged terrorist activities who now face trial and possible execution in Iraqi courts. The two men, Iraqi American Mohammad Munaf and Jordanian American Shawqi Ahmad Omar, are held at Camp Cropper outside of Baghdad by U.S. military police where U.S. interrogators question them. They want access to U.S. courts as American citizens. The Bush administration says they're not being held by the U.S. government but by the "international military coalition called Multi-National Force-Iraq." Thus, they're beyond the reach of U.S. courts. Huh? The Supreme Court is scheduled take up the case on Tuesday, and the outcome will have broad implications for the rights of U.S. citizens held on international battlefields. It's an incredibly complicated story, but an important one.

Anthony Ramirez of the Times reports that a war protest in Manhattan, intended to stretch a human chain across the island, fell far short of its goals.


New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristoff says Iraq is improving and he blew it when he opposed the surge, but it's still costing $5,000 a second.

Frank Rich complains that Sen. Hillary Clinton is still not being honest with the country, her supporters and possibly not even herself when it comes to making Iraq speeches. And that's dividing the Democratic Party and giving McCain the opening he needs.

For Republicans, the prospect of marathon Democratic trench warfare is an Easter miracle. Saddled with the legacy of both Iraq and a cratering economy, the G.O.P. can only rejoice at its opponents' talent for self-destruction. The Republicans can also count on the help of a political press that, whatever its supposed tilt toward Mr. Obama, remains most benevolent toward John McCain.

Benjamin Genocchio reports on a new exhibit of artists trying to come to terms with the Iraq war at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, N.Y.

Kimberly Peirce, director of "Boys Don't Cry," is finally getting around to making another movie, this one called "Stop-Loss" starring Ryan Phillippe, reports Katrina Onstad .

Ben Ehrenreich reports that the Canadian House of Commons is considering a bill to allow conscientious objectors to apply for residency in Canada "who have refused or left military related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations." Iraq isn't mentioned in the resolution, but everyone knows what we're talking about here. More than 25,000 U.S. soldiers have deserted, with 225 fleeing to Canada.

Washington Post
Tom Ricks's Inbox has a slide from retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey outlining the challenges for the next president.

Jenna Johnson reports on a high school sewing class that is making pants for troops who have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Christian Science Monitor, USA Today and Wall Street Journal
No Sunday editions.


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