July 01, 2004


So, did Paul Bremer deliver a farewell speech to Iraq or not? Here’s Ali at Iraq the Model:

Suddenly Mr. Bremer appeared on TV reading his last speech before he left Iraq. I approached the TV to listen carefully to the speech, as I expected it to be difficult in the midst of all that noise. To my surprise everyone stopped what they were doing and started watching as attentively as I was.

The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! “Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying” One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said “He’s going to make me cry!”

Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic,”A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq”! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).

And here’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the Washington Post (as noted by commenters):

When [Bremer] left Iraq on Monday after surrendering authority to an interim government, it was with a somber air of exhaustion. There was no farewell address to the Iraqi people, no celebratory airport sendoff.

Ali says there was a speech; the Washington Post says there wasn’t. Who to believe? A professional journalist, with access to every information stream on the planet and supported by a massive number of editors and researchers -- or Ali, watching TV at a Baghdad hospital?

My money’s on Ali.

UPDATE. Ali wins! The Washington Post loses! Lebanon’s Daily Star reports "a televised speech by former occupation administrator Paul Bremer" and the SF Chronicle’s Robert Collier mentions the former administrator’s "short speech". An extract:

You are ready now for sovereignty, and we think it's an important part of our obligation as temporary custodian to return the sovereignty to you. I have confidence that the Iraqi government is ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

No wonder Omar is no longer surprised by the attitude of major media: "It only disgusts me."

UPDATE II. Marine Corps reservist Eric M. Johnson cites Chandrasekaran’s prior form (via Sullivan):

Before major combat operations were over, Chandrasekaran was already quoting Iraqis proclaiming the American operation a failure. Reading his dispatches from April 2003, you can already see his meta-narrative take shape: basically, that the Americans are clumsy fools who don’t know what they’re doing, and Iraqis hate them. This meta-narrative informs his coverage and the coverage of the reporters he supervises, who rotate in and out of Iraq.

How do I know this? Because my fellow Marines and I witnessed it with our own eyes. Chandrasekaran showed up in the city of Al Kut last April, talked to a few of our officers, and toured the city for a few hours. He then got back into his air-conditioned car and drove back to Baghdad to write about the local unrest.

Since I saw Rajiv Chandrasekaran's integrity up close, I haven't believed a word he writes, or any story coming out of the bureau he runs. You shouldn't, either.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 1, 2004 12:55 AM

I saw the address on Fox & Friends the morning of the handover. Paul Bremer was reading a statement in front of a very boring looking background and a translator was interpreting what Bremer was saying back into English. I don't know what this jack#ss at the WaPo is talking about. As I ironed my shirt for work that morning, stunned they did it early I saw an excerpt of that same broadcast.

What gives?

Posted by: Scott at July 1, 2004 at 01:05 AM

andrew sullivan has a good link dealing with rajiv. too bad a military blog gets no attention a WaPo scribe does.

Posted by: niels at July 1, 2004 at 01:06 AM

I'm at some clunky old computer away from home, otherwise I'd dig up the info on the WaPo ombudsman & post it here among other places.

Posted by: ForNow at July 1, 2004 at 01:10 AM

The point is (yawn) that there shouldn't have been a speech.

Therefore there wasn't one.

Just like there ought to be a quagmire.

So there is one.

Rules of the game (yawn).

Posted by: Barry Meislin at July 1, 2004 at 01:11 AM

Now this isn't the same reporter mentioned here is it?

Fire him. Now.

Posted by: Posse Inictatus at July 1, 2004 at 01:18 AM


But after the WaPo fires Chandrasekaran who will replace him? It's a difficult job to find someone so inexperienced and full of himself that he can write up reports from his hotel room with a straight face.

Come to think of it, Jayson Blair is available...

Posted by: Fresh Air at July 1, 2004 at 01:31 AM

Damn- that's horrible reporting. Jayson Blair, call home.

Posted by: Zach at July 1, 2004 at 01:38 AM

A "professional journalist", heh, that's the problem right there. Emphasis on professional.

Posted by: chuck at July 1, 2004 at 01:56 AM

Just read the whole WaPo "article". Wow.

Posted by: aaron at July 1, 2004 at 02:06 AM

c'mon, everyone knows the eeeeevul merkuns are slinking out of iraq with their tyails between their legs

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at July 1, 2004 at 02:13 AM

An interesting article published a few weeks but summarises quite well how political detentions in Iraq by the US are still going on despite the fact that certain regime members are no longer a realistic threat or war criminals.

Some extracts from the Global Policy Forum website:

"Why Being Right on WMD is No Consolation
to Iraqi Scientist Labelled Enemy of America"
By Jonathan Steele
May 5, 2004

By any measure Amer al-Saadi ought to feel vindicated. The dapper British-educated scientist who was the Iraqi government's main link to the United Nations inspectors before the US invasion repeatedly insisted that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction years earlier.

Held in solitary confinement in an American prison at Baghdad's international airport, Dr Saadi is denied the right to read newspapers, listen to the radio, or watch television. "In the monthly one-page letters I am allowed to send him through the Red Cross I cannot mention any of this news. I can only talk about family issues," says his wife, Helma, as she sits in the couple's home less than half a mile from US headquarters in Baghdad.

Barely three days after the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by US troops in central Baghdad Dr Saadi approached the Americans and became the first senior Iraqi to hand himself in. It was the last time his wife saw him. He was sure he would soon be released, Mrs Saadi says. He was a scientist who had never been part of Saddam's terror apparatus, or even a member of the Ba'ath party.


CIA interrogators have repeatedly interviewed him. Had there been any WMD to discover Dr Saadi would have had an obvious incentive to reveal their location once the regime had collapsed. But from the reports of the Iraq Survey Group it can only be assumed that he has maintained his line that they were eliminated long ago.

Dr Saadi is described officially by the Americans as an "enemy prisoner of war". This allows them to detain him indefinitely without access to a lawyer or visiting rights from his family until George Bush declares the war to be over. Whether he is still held out of spite or to hide Washington's embarrassment is not clear. He has already been in custody for more than a year. His CIA interrogators have finished their work and apparently feel awkward about his continued detention. "My handlers have appealed to higher authorities for my release but it seems it's political and God doesn't meddle in politics," Dr Saadi wrote in one letter.

"It would speak well for them if they admitted they were mistaken. They would look human," Mrs Saadi says. German by birth, she and her husband have always conversed in English. They were married in Wandsworth register office in south London 40 years ago last October, when he was studying chemistry at Battersea College of Technology.

In prison under US custody he is not even allowed pen and paper, except to compose his one-page Red Cross letter.


With a British PhD in physical chemistry Dr Saadi is essentially a rocket scientist. Now 66, he was awarded a scholarship from the defence ministry under the Iraqi monarchy to study in Britain, which meant he had to commit himself to work for the military later. During the war with Iran, when Saddam's Iraq was being armed and helped by the west, he organised a team of scientists who developed a ground-to-ground missile with a range of 400 miles, capable of reaching Tehran. This prompted the Iranian regime to agree to a peace deal.

In 1994 he retired with the rank of lieutenant general but was appointed the next year as a scientific adviser to the presidency. He regularly met the UN weapons inspectors and when they resumed their work in November 2002 he was the government's main liaison man. He became a well-known figure on TV, wearing a suit rather than uniform and speaking fluent English at press conferences. His wife insists he was never close to Saddam and last met him in 1995.

Dr Saadi's younger brother, Radwan, has worked in Iraq's oil ministry for 30 years and was reinstated by the US as head of its finance department. He tries to be hopeful. "The Americans are taking it case by case. There are various agencies who all have to approve anyone's release. Some detainees were released very early who were closer to the regime than Amer. It's like dealing with a black hole."

Dr Saadi is number 32 on Washington's most wanted list, and the seven of diamonds on the notorious deck of cards. Ironically, he now spends a lot of time with cards, playing patience in his lonely cell.

Posted by: rhactive at July 1, 2004 at 02:57 AM

Nice try at derailing the discussion rhactive, but I don't think it will work.

Posted by: Dwayne at July 1, 2004 at 03:09 AM

This scoop is all very well, but has anybody told WaPo?
I'd like to hear their response.
This kind of scooping is nice, but it doesn't do much good as long as the majors think we don't know anything more than they tell us.
Once they figure out we know more, they may have a greater motivation not to look like liars.
Or maybe not. Force of habit.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at July 1, 2004 at 03:16 AM

"In the monthly one-page letters I am allowed to send him through the Red Cross I cannot mention any of this news. I can only talk about family issues," says his wife, Helma.

"My handlers have appealed to higher authorities for my release but it seems it's political and God doesn't meddle in politics," Dr Saadi wrote in one letter.

In prison under US custody he is not even allowed pen and paper, except to compose his one-page Red Cross letter.

These contradictions in the story... rhactive...Guardian....
I'm sceptical.

Posted by: Observer at July 1, 2004 at 03:22 AM

I think its funny how the left is spinning this. They equate Bremers rush from Iraq as "The US has chosen to cut and run."

Posted by: Oktober at July 1, 2004 at 03:30 AM

rhactive, do learn the Geneva Conventions sometime.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at July 1, 2004 at 03:33 AM

Robin Roberts- No, I think your soldiers should read the Geneva Convention.

Iraq never surrendered to you and they will continue to fight on.

Posted by: rhactive at July 1, 2004 at 03:38 AM

Do we really think that the interim Iraqi adminstration will have true sovereign capabilities whilst there are over 140,000 foreign men with guns running around Iraq?

Coalition soldiers are providing security but they will also be bound to continue counter-insurgency operations as well and they will continue reporting to US command. By appointing Dr. Allawi as Prime Minister, the US have put an Iraqi face on the occupation and they have painted a picture of some progress.

Security, defence, foreign policy(such as recognition of Israel) are some of the policy challenges that the US will continue to influence. Hopefully the interim Iraqi govt. will serve their people and not just serve American policy? Yes the new cabinet has responsibilities but will Iraq be truly sovereign?

Posted by: rhactive at July 1, 2004 at 03:39 AM


I'm one of the slow ones...What's your point?

Posted by: zzx375 at July 1, 2004 at 03:43 AM

Oh how the left continue to love a dictator. Maybe it's displacement, AKA they see themselves as the rightful ruler, handing out law to the stupid minions...

Posted by: Rob Read at July 1, 2004 at 03:45 AM

The WaPo seems to be vying for the "Who can tell the biggest lie" title with Mikey "Goebbles" Moore. Too bad for them that these lies only work on the under-informed idiots that want to hear the lies anyway.


You schmuck,

The good Iraqi death merchant is in the custody of the "temporary custodians" of Iraq. The Iraqi authorities are not prepared to deal with his case at this time, when they are he will get his hearing in court. Until then he will sit in US custody.

Too bad, even if all of the WMDs were destroyed as he said. He also helped Saddam convince the world he had WMDs and by doing so assisted Saddam's reign of murder to continue. You read that liberal garbage and think that because the evidence provided seems to prove he is innocent of one charge, that he is completely innocent of all charges. My heart bleeds for you in your self-imposed ignorance.

PS. The cut and pasteing is a sure sign you are a DNC operative. You really should hide it better, after all you are being paid to do it.

Posted by: Steve H at July 1, 2004 at 03:59 AM

Iraq never surrendered to you and they will continue to fight on.

That's funny, I could have sworn I saw footage of Saddam being dragged from a hole with is hands in the air. You know, surrendering. He sure wasn't fighting.

By "they" I assume rhactive is referring to the foreigners (the Syrians, the Palestinians, the miscellaneous jihadis from all over the region) that the US is killing in Iraq?

Posted by: R C Dean at July 1, 2004 at 04:00 AM

Is Germany, Japan, France, Belgium, Holland, The Philippines, The Marshall Islands, Italy, Sicily, Algeria, Libya, Kuwait or South Korea truly sovereign?

I am sure I am forgetting many, but these countries have all been OCCUPIED by the USA. What the hell is your point? Or should we really be discussing your dementia.

Posted by: Steve H. at July 1, 2004 at 04:07 AM

Could be.

I think there's a lot of masochism involved, too.

"Beat me again, I deserve it!"

Didn't Fisk indulge in that in Pakistan a couple of years back.

We don't need to reason with the wacko left, we just need to send some Ba'athist torture masters give them the beating they think they deserve.

Posted by: Posse Incitatus at July 1, 2004 at 04:09 AM

I see it's time once again for rhactive's tired act of "I found another Guardian article which reallyreally proves that America is losing in Iraq, and I'm going to rub it into the face of every war supporter no matter how stupid it makes me look, and I will lash out with grade-school insults as soon as somebody dares to suggest I just might be gloating about the death of Americans and Iraqis". Run along folks, nothin' new to see here. Must be that time of the month for rhactive.

Posted by: PW at July 1, 2004 at 06:05 AM

Thanks to the easily distracted, 'Rhactive' seems to have generally derailed the thread alright. Posts Guardian articles in their entirety and executes further bad mannered maneuvers.

Try ignoring such persons - it works.

Posted by: Gerry at July 1, 2004 at 06:24 AM

Michael Getler is The Post's ombudsman. He can be reached at (202) 334-7582 or by e-mail at ombudsman@washpost.com, or c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20071.

Posted by: ForNow at July 1, 2004 at 06:55 AM

Thanks, ForNow -- note sent.

Posted by: tim at July 1, 2004 at 07:48 AM

Rhactive has been banned, for diverting the thread into his or her own little stagnant pond of obsession, and for posting entire articles from another source.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 1, 2004 at 08:58 AM

You will tell us what Getler says, won't you?

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at July 1, 2004 at 01:03 PM

There's always editor@washpost.com as well. I'm back on the clunky computer & can't even remember my stupid password back to the Washington Post or I'd get all the bigwigs' public email addresses.

Leonard Downie Jr. is Executive Editor in charge of the whole putrid travesty. It's obvious what one is to think of a man who employs such mendacious hacks as Milbank, Pincus, & Chandrasekaran.

Posted by: ForNow at July 1, 2004 at 03:20 PM

This is what I sent to the WaPo ombudsman.

To Whom It May Concern;

Rajiv Chandrasekaren's June 29th article regarding the early transfer of power to Iraqis includes misleading and inaccurate information.

He writes "There was no farewell address to the Iraqi people, no celebratory airport sendoff.".

This is patently false. Mr. Bremer did appear on Iraqi television to give a farewell address. As the Baghdad Bureau Chief Mr. Chandrasekaran should have been easily able to confirm this.

I write to you now as I do not see this correction listed on your website.

Please investigate this matter to correct the public record. Thank you.

Posted by: Brennan Stout at July 4, 2004 at 01:42 AM