Monday, October 10, 2005
Outrageous: The New York Times tries, unsuccessfully, to give credence to the unctuous Juan Cole's suggestion that journalist Steven Vincent was part of an honor killing. If you read far enough into the Times article, you notice a couple of things that put the suggestion of an illicit affair to blame for Vincent's killing to rest.
At first the group of assailants left Ms. Taiz alone, according to three of the shop's employees. But as she tried to help Mr. Vincent, the men turned on her, too. The witnesses said the two were wrestled into the back seat of a pickup truck, which looked like a police vehicle: white with blue doors and a police light.
Efforts to interview Ms. Taiz were unsuccessful, including a request made through her brother.
A police investigator said Ms. Taiz, in a brief interview at the hospital after she was found, had told him the men had taken them to a building where she had been interrogated about their relationship. According to Ms. Ramaci, the F.B.I. had reports that witnesses had heard the abductors calling her "a whore and pig for consorting with Americans" and telling her "she deserved to die."
According to the police investigator, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, the kidnappers also berated Ms. Taiz for supporting regional autonomy in southern Iraq, an issue that bedeviled the efforts to draft a constitution.
"They asked her, 'Why do you love federalism? Why do you want to divide Iraq?' " the investigator said. Among the staunchest Shiite opponents of autonomy in the south are Moktada al-Sadr, the rebel cleric who has been a vociferous critic of the American military presence, and Ayatollah Muhammad Yacoubi, another activist cleric who is the leader of the party that controls a majority in the Basra Province council.
If they were willing to forget about Nour Taiz to start with, it certainly wasn't their relationship that concerned them. Really, usually the woman's family is typically the first to kill her when this sort of thing is suspected and that obviously isn't the case here.
Second, the remainder of the interrogation -- really the focus of it -- was political. The article quotes people saying that they weren't aware of Vincent's blog or article in the Times, but the questioning of Taiz shows that the murderers weren't solely -- or even primarily -- concerned with the duo's relationship.
Editor & Publisher's abbreviated account, unfortunately, but predictably, casts the Times story in a more lurid light.
It's a travesty that a good, brave man's name is dragged through the dirt by much lesser men, but I suspect that's all you can expect from the enlightened American press when you're an advocate for democracy and freedom in Iraq.