Riverbend: Raided in Baghdad

The teenage Iraqi blogger known as Riverbend, author of Baghdad Burning, a series of blog-posts at NYTimes.com and her own blog, posts anectodal details of a raid by Iraqi police this week on her house and neighborhood.

Riverbend concludes:

It’s almost funny- only a month ago, we were watching a commercial on some Arabic satellite channel- Arabiya perhaps. They were showing a commercial for Iraqi security forces and giving a list of numbers Iraqis were supposed to dial in the case of a terrorist attack? You call THIS number if you need the police to protect you from burglars or abductors? You call THAT number if you need the National Guard or special forces to protect you from terrorists? But?

Who do you call to protect you from the New Iraq?s security forces?

Breathtaking. Read it.

Kidnappers Set New Deadline for Jill Carroll

Jill Carroll - AlRai / APTNChairman of the Kuwaiti television channel Al Rai, Jassem Boudai announced Friday that specific demands from the kidnappers of American Journalist Jill Carroll have been passed on to authorities via the network. The kidnappers threaten to kill Carroll unless the demands are met by February 26, according to Reuters.

Carroll is “in a safe house owned by one of the kidnappers in downtown Baghdad with a group of women,” according to Boudai’s statement to AP.

Carroll seemed calm in a videotape aired Thursday on Al Rai TV. She asked that all demands of her kidnappers be met as “there is very short time left.”

Natasha and J. Scott Tynes, both friends and former colleagues of Jill Carroll, update the story as it happens on Natasha’s blog.

Official statements and updates from Carroll’s employer, Christian Science Monitor can be found here. Click here for a timeline of events involving Jill Carroll.

And let’s hope that this ends promptly and peacefully.

Cowboy George Lassos ‘Liberty’ Tower

When captured Al-Qaeda “mastermind” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed admitted under questioning that a terrorist attack involving the largest building west of the Mississisppi was planned, federal officials shrugged him off, concluding that if the alleged plot was in motion at all, it was only in the early discussion phases.

This morning President Bush captured nationwide headlines by drawing out the details of this alleged plot involving a shoebomb-assisted entry into the cockpit of a passenger jet, which would then be comandeered into Los Angeles’ Library Tower by a terrorist. Apparently swept up by the drama of a 9/11 copycat attack averted, president mistakenly referred to the building (now commonly known as U.S. Bank Tower) as “Liberty” Tower.

Four months ago, in the aftermath of the Harriet Miers disaster, the president made a surprise address in which he praised homeland security and international allies in thwarting at least ten alleged terrorist plots – including the aforementioned (yet not with so much detail) Library Tower. Bush’s vague proclamation prompted broad questioning (see Keith Olbermann’s fascinating “Nexus of Politics and Terror” piece). The L.A. Times was prompted to headline a co-authored article “Is Bush Making Up Plots to Bolster Support for the War in Iraq?

While many are suspicious that Bush’s announcement this morning is to drum up support for his domestic surveillance program (only days after the not-so-satisfying testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales), it almost reads as if he is attempting to “terrorize” American citizens themselves — I mean, don’t statements clarifying the continued threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil despite the absence of such attacks since 9/11 sound like propaganda coming from al-Qaeda themselves?

Am I supposed to grab the wheel tight and glance up at U.S. Bank Tower in fear every time I drive down the 110? Can I expect to see visitors to Gehry’s Disney Music Hall milling about the rejuvenated downtown with concerned looks of imminent doom as they approach the shadows of the 73-story tower?

There is a good reason this is headline news throughout the country. Americans must be reminded that there have been numerous terrorist attacks throughout the world at the hands of al-Qaeda, including, most recently, the 7/7 (7 July 2005) bombings on the London Underground. Furthermore, we should be reminded that terrorists aren’t all that stupid, and therefore, it would be completely foolish to believe that they would use the same strategy again (fly a plane into a big building) when mass terror can be inflicted in numerous ways — the easiest of which we are in no way prepared for.

It seems irrelevant, and shows great weakness to point out alleged terror targets and attributing the claims to a captured al-Qaeda captain, who we now know was interrogated under duress if not tortured underwater.

Why not alert us of our security soft-spots that need more funding to thwart potential attacks such as the Port of Los Angeles (Long Beach)? Or, should we be attacked there, will we once again hear that nobody could have predicted the bombing of the busiest large-container port in the nation?

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for one, was blindsided by these new details, as was California Congressman Brad Sherman (audio).