Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bodies in the Tigris River?

I used to read about this river as the cradle of civilization. Now it cradles at least fifty corpses if Iraq's president is to be believed:

The new Iraqi president said today that more than 50 bodies had been discovered in the Tigris River and suggested they were victims of a massive kidnapping south of Baghdad that Iraqi officials insisted was a hoax just three days ago.

President-elect Jalal Talabani, who made the surprise assertion after a meeting with Shiite leaders over dividing up top jobs in the new government, offered no details about the crime, including when or precisely where the bodies were found.

Mr. Talabani, in his comments to reporters, offered no documentation that could help independently verify his statement, like a list of victims, photographs of the bodies, or the names of witnesses. He said the government knew the names of victims and had such photographs, however.

In the latest bizarre turnabout in a succession of claims about whether any kidnappings occurred, Mr. Talabani said that hostages had , in fact, been killed, and their bodies thrown into the Tigris. An American military spokesman in Baghdad said today that he had no information about the bodies.

These corpses would be Shiites, kidnapped and executed by Sunni terrorists. Stirrings of a civil war? Well, at least Saddam isn't a danger any longer.

Whatever the truth about this particular incident, Iraq still has plenty of violent events to satisfy the most insistent rubber-necker:

The pronouncement came amid continuing violence in the country, as 20 Iraqi troops were taken from their trucks near the western city of Haditha, dragged to a soccer stadium and lined up against the wall and shot, according to an official in the Interior Ministry. Nineteen of the Iraqis died, and one was taken to a hospital, the official said.

Later today, a suicide car bomb went off near the headquarters of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's political party in Baghdad, a police official told news agencies. At least one person was killed.

Was it all worth it? Americans are asked this question regularly in various polls about whether the Iraq war was a good idea or not. I find the whole idea of polling people who are driving their SUVs far away from the killing fields disgusting, especially when we can't ask the dead, not the Americans or the Iraqis, not those killed by Saddam or those killed by other Iraqis or by Americans. They are the ones who paid the price, after all.