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Daily Column
US Papers Mon: With Local Control, New Troubles
Cheney, Bush Strongly Disagreed on Libby
By DANIEL W. SMITH 03/16/2009 02:00 AM ET
There isn’t much Iraq news at all today in American newspapers. The only piece of reporting from Baghdad, in the Times, concerns disturbing trends with local police in Iraq, and is worth reading. Other than that, we only have Dick Cheney speaking out against his former boss for his not pardoning Scooter Libby, after his conviction in the “Yellowcake” affair.

From Baghdad
Rod Nordland of the New York Times reports that some kinds of violence have increased in some areas since Iraqis took greater control of affairs in the provinces. The majority of the cases cited are violent acts committed by local police officers. Nordland provides mostly a list of them, but the reoccurring themes speak for themselves, and paint a portrait of local police, empowered by the Iraqi government, abducting and killing people. Some of those killed are thought to have been involved in insurgent activity, or former detainees having been released from Camp Bucca prison facility. Personal retribution for the killing of a family member of a police member is listed in one instance. An increased level of the killing of women in Kut is listed by an Iraqi official at the Kut morgue, and Nordland does well to point out that the number does not include “honor killings” (apparently in a different category than criminal killings). Also, another touchy situation seems to be coming to a head.

And in a remote part of northern Diyala Province, Iraqi soldiers surrounded a refugee camp for Iranian dissidents, Camp Ashraf, blockading food and water to the roughly 3,500 residents there. A spokesman for the dissidents’ group, the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, said Sunday that only the presence of Americans had prevented an attack on them.
The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson covers former vice president Dick Cheney remarking in an interview on CNN Sunday that he strongly disagreed with President Bush's decision not to pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, saying his former chief of staff had been left "hanging in the wind."

Libby was found guilty of involvement in the contentious outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA operative in 2003, after her husband, Joseph C. Wilson, criticized the Bush administration for what he said was a deliberate misrepresentation of Saddam Hussein's ambitions to build a nuclear weapon in order to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion. Libby, who received a 30-month prison sentence and a $250,000 fine, was Cheney’s top adviser. "I think he's an innocent man who deserves a pardon," said Cheney.

Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, no Iraq coverage.
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