Saturday, April 01, 2006

Jill Carroll Freed and the Crowd Goes Stupid

I should have realized that, as soon as some parts of the story were released, the National Inquirer Blogosphere would get to work putting their impressions of Jill Carroll's kidnapping and release out into the binary atmosphere. I've never seen so much rude, crude, barely facetious comments that imply Jill Carroll is some sort of "traitor" or was complicit in the activities of her kidnappers or even simply was a willing dupe that should have chosen "death over dishonor".

That is the implication of most of the writings going on in the conservative blogosphere. Equally egregious are the political left blogs who, as usual, think that statements from or on behalf of enemy forces should be taken at face value. In this case, according to Power Line (who, by the way, imply Carroll should have chosen "death before dishonor"), direct people to "Think Progress" who state: "It is totally inappropriate to assume that [Carroll's] description of how she was treated is motivated by anything other than a desire to tell the truth." These guys are right to say that accepting Carroll's statements at face value when all other things are considered, is complete idiocy. They kidnapped her, kept her in a room, never let her out, threatened to kill her and probably committed other humiliating acts. Further, it appears that they threatened her if she stayed in Iraq and talked to anyone, particularly in the Green Zone.

I think it's important to remember some facts of her kidnapping as outlined in the above story:

1) She went to Al Dulaiyma's office to get an interview. It is still unclear whether this was pre-arranged or if she went there simply hoping to catch up with him and get the interview. Al Dulaiyma indicated earlier on that he did not know of an appointment with her. Al Dulaiyma is a member of a Sunni Iraqi political party although I don't know if it is the IIP.

2) The criminal/militia/political situation is very complex. There are criminal groups, large and small, that will commit kidnappings for hire or simply do the kidnapping then sale to the highest bidder. There are tens, if not hundreds, of petty militia's attached to every political group. Some are not even politically motivated so much as part of neighborhood or tribal group or simply groups of people that believe they are protecting something. The militia's often have nominal relationships with political groups with little command and control. Sunni militia's, while not directly related in all cases, have used the Muslim Scholars' Association and various Sunni political groups as middlemen for negotiations. It's unclear how deep all of these relations go.

3) They shot her driver and killed her translator, though she had no idea until she was released their final fate. Her translator was not simply someone she worked with, but a friend. It seems pretty obvious that she would not be complicit in causing her friend's death by arranging this herself which seems to be the implication of many comments or, at least, many seem to believe she was overcome by "Stockholm Syndrome" because of her comments.

4) During her capture she was threatened with death unless "all the female prisoners" were released. That never happened though some obviously were. Which seems to me, whoever the person that they wanted released was, it didn't happen. But, equally, the thing that saved her life was not that she was a woman, but because this group was not Al Qaida or simple criminal gang, they have nominal relations with the political group. HOw do we know this? Besides where she was released and kidnapped (pretty good indicators considering that each political group has their own militia that would be very unlikely just to let some strange car drive up in their area without knowing who and why they were there. Secondly, while they threatened to kill her several times, and probably would have under different circumstances, the fact that the kidnapping took place on the way back from a political party building (within 100 yards) and it was widely publicized as such, most likely saved her life because the political parties knew that it would implicate them, not just in her kidnapping, but in her death. Not good when the Sunni political parties are trying to court American power brokers to help protect them from their self induced genocide as well as assistance in their struggle for power within the newly forming government. (Right at the time that the Shia are voicing increasing anger at the US for raids and various other incidents.

5) She was released near the IIP or Iraqi Islamic Party and pointed in that direction. Why? Why did she go there immediately? It's pretty clear what the situation is on the ground. While she might not have been safe leaving a political party headquarters, once she was released, only a very stupid political party would not keep her safe and insure she was delivered to the Americans, particularly at a time when they are courting American power for protection and political assistance. While I do not want to deal in rumors (though I am making several conjectures based on existing information), it is possible that the kidnappers had relations with this party and had made arrangements with them for her release for just such a cause. Even contrary to the statements of the party that they are unaware of the reason she was sent there. It's one of these two reasons she was there. The party was a "neutral" party. I don't expect them to say anything else on the matter since they do not want to implicate themselves in the matter under the current situation.

6) Making a propaganda statement? My answer is "so what?" She is not in the military. She is under no obligation to give only "name, rank and serial number". Her only obligation as a victim was to cooperate and try to secure her own release. Frankly, I would have done the same thing knowing that, when I was released and somewhere safe (which is far away from Iraq for obvious reasons I'll explain momentarily), I would make my own statements on the subject. Until she was out of Iraq, her safety was not guaranteed. Further, her statements after the fact about not being harmed and that she was fed and allowed to shower are simple statements that don't say much, but also don't really say anything good or bad about her captors. Any group insisting that her comments prove their own beliefs, in either direction, are a bunch of fools. She is neither stating that she agrees with the kidnappers or stating they were evil. Other reports indicate that the group said they were holding other hostages and had possibly already killed an American hostage. Maybe she's being smart and not saying anything that might jeopardize other prisoners until she is somewhere safe and nothing she says can cause a problem for her or others? Is she under some obligation to make denunciations in the press for our edification and justification of our ideas? My answer is, "No." The only thing that she is obligated to do is to make sure she gets out of there alive. After that, all things are lesser importance.

7) Not talking to or not wanting to talk to anyone in the Green Zone or go there. Let's keep our emotions under control and comprehend the situation. Starting with number one, in the manner in which she was kidnapped and later statements from her kidnappers telling her that the Green Zone was infiltrated, I think she needed little convincing (and neither do I) that this is true and that her life would still be in danger until the moment she left Iraq. Jill Carroll was not one of those kidnap victims who were simply culled out and followed around until an appropriate opportunity presented itself. Her kidnappers did not simply pull up in a car next to her and shoot her driver or translator. Her kidnappers knew where she was going and why. It was very likely she was lured there under false pretenses. Her kidnappers actually knew where she was going and had planned the kidnapping as something other than a "drive by". They had secreted themselves around the road and, when they were driving by, stepped out in the road and stopped them with guns drawn, shooting the translator and driver, then driving her off in her own transportation. This was well orchestrated and timed which means someone talked. Accidently or on purpose, somebody in what they generally considered their "secure" group gave it up. If I was her, I wouldn't be too keen on going there and saying anything either.

In short, all those on either side of the equation are so caught up in their political ideologies that they can't seem to remember that she was kidnapped and threatened with death. She's a victim who does not need to answer to either group for her actions. She is a live and that is what is important in Iraq. She will most likely never be able to go back there or at least, for a very long time. It's likely that she is being debriefed at Landstuhl AFB after she meets her family and may give useful information there. Whatever she says or does has little political value here except for the meanderings of less than sympathetic voices on either side of the poltical aisle.

Even LGF, where I find some amusement in the overweening angst that get's perpetrated by the commenters as well as the sometimes snarky funny or equally snyde implications from Charles Johnson, had a number of commenters go over the top as far as I'm concerned. It's funny really because their comments match the the comments made by my moonbat brother who regularly declares Bush as an illegal President that lied about the war and should be impeached. The fringe on either side are just about equal when it comes to insanity.

The stupid comments from either side has forced Carrol to make a statement about the propaganda which LGF, in all fairness, carried immediately:

During my last night of captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me they would be released if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and I wanted to go home alive. So I agreed.

Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Alan Enwiya are criminals, at best. They robbed Alan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends _ all those around the world _ who have prayed so fervently for my release _ through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this.[snip]

Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: One, that I refused to travel and cooperate with the U.S. military and two, that I refused to discuss my captivity with U.S. officials. Again, neither statement is true.

I want to be judged as a journalist, not as a hostage. I remain as committed as ever to fairness and accuracy _ to discovering the truth _ and so I will not engage in polemics. But let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes.

I'm sure that some will be ready to apologize and that others will insist that they will never change their minds because they are right and we just don't know it yet.

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