Body and Soul has an excellent round up on Deputy Sec of State Robert Zoellicks’ visit and what the situation is really like in Fallujah.
I still have not seen any word on the status of the Fallujan refugees. Whether they are in camps or with family and friends outside Fallujah. While there is much talk about electrictiy, sewer and water slowly coming back (5 months later) there doesn’t seem to be any indication of how many residents are actually there to use it. And it doesn’t appear the security situation is any betterFrom the Washington Post:
Yet Zoellick, who wore body armor under his suit jacket, was told by military commanders that he could not leave his armored Humvee because of security concerns during the lightning tour of the shattered downtown. … The motorcade then moved so quickly past an open-air bakery reopened with a U.S.-provided micro-loan that workers tossing dough could be glanced only in the blink of an eye.
Even more disturbing is this:
Iraqi police continue to imprison a reporter for the satellite news channel al-Arabiya. Correspondent Wael Issam was stopped at Baghdad International Airport on March 28. His tapes were confiscated, and he was taken to prison.
Issam was preparing a documentary/feature on the insurgents in Fallujah. He has now been released on bail, but the status of his tapes is unknown.
As Reporters Without Borders says:
“Filming what is happening in a sensitive area, wherever it may be, does not amount to an offence liable to a prison sentence.
And before you say “well, he works for one of those Arab stations… he’s probably one of “them”! Read this from the first article i linked above:
Reporters Without Borders is calling on the U.S. government to release a CBS cameraman it shot last week while he was covering a gunfight in Mosul. When he was shot, the Iraqi freelancer was armed with only his camera.
A U.S. Army statement said the CBS cameraman was being held because be might pose “an imperative threat to the coalition forces.” The U.S. military suspects him of links to the rebels because video footage found in his camera shows he was on the scene of several bombings shortly after they took place.
While I understand the need to ensure security, it is seems clear that we are being denied a level of detail about the situation on the ground in Iraq that we all deserve as proponents and believers in Free Speech and Freedom of Press.