The report of an American hostage killed Thursday, if confirmed, represents the first foreign hostage killed in Iraq in four months and the first American in over a year.
Who is this reportedly slain hostage? NBC affiliate KTUU in Anchorage, Alaska reported Wednesday:
Family members have confirmed that the American hostage on a video released Tuesday is, in fact, Ronald Schulz of Eagle River.
Schulz grew up a farm boy in North Dakota and later became a marine, according to Thursday night’s KTUU news, which included footage of his family members at a press conference:
?Our family is aware that the Iraqi people have concerns regarding the U.S. government presence in their country. However, murdering Ron will not solve these issues,? said Julie Schulz, Ron Schulz?s sister.
It appears that Schulz, an industrial electrician, purchased a round trip ticket from Anchorage to Amman, Jordan, where some believed that he was to marry, others were unsure whether the trip was for business or pleasure, according to KTUU.
While the kidnapping of Schulz is confirmed, Thursday’s claim that he was murdered was posted on an Islamic militant website as reported by CTV:
“[T]he American security consultant for the Housing Ministry was killed after the end of the deadline set to respond to the Islamic Army’s demands.”
The U.S. government squelched the claims immediately, and it rotated to the back of most news round-ups.
Thursday evening, the ever-trusted Jim Lehrer came right out and asked Rumsfeld to confirm the report Thursday night on NewsHour:
RUMSFELD: I can’t. We have claims by kidnappers and terrorists and beheaders, three or four a day….
LEHRER: So nothing special, at least in terms of Iraq, that you know of.
By late Thursday night the reports of the Baghdad bus bombing from 24 hours earlier reappeared as AP’s top story out of Iraq.
A bit confounding, although it can only be good news that for the first day in at least a week, there were no breaking reports of civilian deaths in Iraq, only a re-hash of the previous day’s bombing that killed at least 40, written as if it was hot off the presses.
The name Ron Schulz appears in no fewer than 815 publications as of Friday morning, according to Google News, however, except for KTUU, each mention appears to be within the context of the same Associated Press news release.
The New York Times and Washington Post only list Schulz in their online editions in unblemished renderings of the same AP article.
Tucked back on A16 of the Post is: “An Iraqi insurgent group said Thursday in a statement posted on the Internet that it had killed a kidnapped U.S. security consultant.”
The next sentence may been enough to scare even our papers of record out of name-dropping Schulz: “The White House said it could not confirm the death.”
Instead of blindly hoping that a reportedly bad situation solves itself (the Iraqi war [un]mantra), it would be reassuring if the government would at least do, for example, what the Brits did earlier this week:
A leading member of the British Muslim community was in Bagdhad on Saturday to try to secure the release of four hostages, including two Canadian peace campaigners kidnapped a week ago.
A horrifying surprise it is, indeed, that the hostagetakers “deadline” for releasing the four hostages has been extended.
And there’s Donald Rumsfeld smirking away on PBS last night. You just can’t have “victory” without compassion, much less an iota of connectedness to reality.