A Snapshot of Life as a U.S. Embassy Staffer in Baghdad

The Washington Post has posted a .pdf of a cable, “obtained” by the paper and “marked ‘sensitive.'” The name at the bottom is simply “Khalilzad,” from which one could deduce that the letter at the very least passed by the eyes of U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the man charged with implementing the administration’s “policy” in Iraq.

This account of the atmosphere inside and around the Embassy workplace cuts through all of the other noise being debated and pumped out in the media and blogosphere, it is matter-of-fact. Read it.

Below is a snippet describing the difficulty one employee is having in keeping her cover in front of her family:

At the very least, the Pentagon will now allow them to “use deadly force.” And if it’s any consolation, the Chicago Tribune reported a few weeks ago of a new “giant U.S. Embassy” being constructed to the dismay of Iraqis, on the perimeter of the Green Zone.

Although the president has been known to openly brag about not reading newspapers, if the Post is bold enough to print this in black & white, I applaud them.

The Heimpel Files: ‘Fabio’s Lesson’

Here’s the latest Icelandic dispatch from Daniel Heimpel

?Oh his cherry was popped,? says Fabio from the corner of the ring. Blood sputters from my nose and my head is ringing. Fabio has been successful in teaching me an important lesson – you better move your feet, otherwise you?re gonna get wrecked.

The day before, I had been talking with Fabio about Ari, the other trainer at Reykjavik?s boxing gym. In one of Iceland?s first fights, after almost 50 years of being banned, Ari caught eight rabbit punches to the back of his head. His brain started bleeding and he was hospitalized for 3 weeks and pumped with morphine four times a day.

?A catastrophic injury, and that?s what happened to Ari, is very rare in amateur boxing,? Fabio said in his English accent. He was in Ari?s corner the night of the bludgeoning. ?What you have to worry about is attrition, getting punched in the head 100 times a day for 10-15 years. Well then you?ll have problems.?

In the gym the warm up starts how it always does when Fabio is running it. All 15 of us jump rope, and then run with weights in our hands. Run up some wood stairs with Fabio screaming and slapping on the wood railing. Punch the heavy bag. ?You messed up!? he yells ?Do 10 press ups!? Hold out weights at your sides and watch your sweat spatter the floor. Mock sparring. Parry. Slip. Feint.

?You two,? he says to the other American, 40-something with strong veiny arms, and me. ?Let?s do some sparring.?

I wrap my hands and put on the gloves. I put the mouthpiece in my mouth and wait. Continue reading “The Heimpel Files: ‘Fabio’s Lesson’”

Melody Reigns

Is content king? I say “nah.”

Melody reigns — its about presentation. I never realized what talented songwriting was behind The Editors‘ “Munich” until I heard Corinne Bailey Rae‘s rendition of it as performed live on KCRW‘s Morning Comes Eclectic.

It’s been in my head ever since I first heard it as done by Corinne. Perhaps I fall in love to easily, or perhaps its become too difficult to discern great songwriting from an all-to-Strokesy sound. Sorry, The Editors for saying that, I was totally inaccurate on first glance.

You can stream the entire set HERE.

Go to Corinne Bailey Rae’s website. And while you’re there, you can tell her I love her.

Fear Factory

Can you feel it? Propaganda has peculiar ways and the U.S. continues to be one-upped as some left-field Web dispatches are making waves in the American press despite garnering little mention elsewhere.

Yesterday’s beheading video, in which, according to AP’s feature Iraq story: the “al-Qaida-linked Ansar al-Sunnah” web site, signaling that “the fight is still on after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death,” posted video “showing the beheading of three alleged Shiite death squad members in revenge for killing Sunnis.” Al Jazeera, fwiw, had nothing on their web site regarding the video.

A Washington Post headline on Saturday suggested: “Zarqawi Helped U.S. Argument That Al-Qaeda Network Was in Iraq.” That being the case, this Guardian UK headline, a quote attributed to folks in Zarqawi’s native Zarqa, Jordan, is an understatement: “‘He is not dead, he is alive with God. This is a wedding, not a funeral.'”

Well color me poopless as so-called al-Qaida in Iraq is having one more field day with the media. Yet another “Web statement” is fronting AP, complete with the ominous headline: “Al-Zarqawi death prompts attack warning.”

Maliki/Bush can proclaim yet another “new day” in Iraq following al-Zarqawi’s death. But Riverbend says it best: “If ‘New’ is equal to ‘More’ and ‘Day’ is equal to ‘Suffering’, what does “New Day for Iraqis” mean?”

And as if one attack warning isn’t enough, the U.S. Embassy in China on Friday issued a warning: “Terrorist Threat against U.S. Interests in China.”

And if that’s not enough to convince us that the Communists are back as a leading nemesis in the war on terror, consider this: an act of war against the U.S. was committed yesterday in Cuba. We’re not talking Bay of Pigs, just reflecting on the completely absurd remarks by Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris following the “coordinated suicides” of three “committed jihadists” who died in acts of “asymmetrical warfare.”

Now THOSE are fighting words. After all, these Guantanamo detainees — all suspected terrorists, will never get to stand trial. Now that they’re dead.

“They have no regard for human life,” Harris added. “Neither ours nor their own.”

Dare say it goes both ways? Now that’s something to fear.