Saturday, April 1, 2006

Jill Carroll

Jill Carroll, able to speak freely without fear of retribution, shares her feelings toward those who held her captive and murdered her friend:

I'm so happy to be free and am looking forward to spending a lot of time with my family. I want to express my deep appreciation to all the people who worked so long and hard for my release. I am humbled by the sympathy and support expressed by so many people during my kidnapping.

In the past few days, the US military and officials have been extremely generous, and I am grateful for their help. Throughout this ordeal, many US agencies have committed themselves to bringing me safely home.

My colleagues at The Christian Science Monitor have worked ceaselessly to secure my release, and worked with security consultants to do so. Many other news organizations, both inside and outside of Iraq, as well as many officials from Iraq and other countries, worked hard to bring about my freedom.

So many people around the world spoke out on my behalf. Thank you, all of you.

During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed.

Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Alan Enwiya are criminals, at best. They robbed Alan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends--and all those around the world, who have prayed so fervently for my release--through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this.

I also gave a TV interview to the Iraqi Islamic Party shortly after my release. The party had promised me the interview would never be aired on television, and broke their word. At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times.

Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: That I refused to travel and cooperate with the US military and that I refused to discuss my captivity with US officials. Again, neither is true.

I want to be judged as a journalist, not as a hostage. I remain as committed as ever to fairness and accuracy--to discovering the truth--and so I will not engage in polemics. But let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes.

Now, I ask for the time to heal. This has been a taxing 12 weeks for me and my family. Please allow us some quiet time alone, together.

Those who were quick to criticize her for her earlier statements are probably feeling a little chagrined right about now.

America's Baghdad Bob

Either Howard Dean is astonishingly mendacious or he inhabits some alternative universe where truth has no correspondence to objective reality and is instead whatever one happens to be saying at the moment. The AP, scarcely able to believe it themselves, reports that:

Howard Dean accuses Bush, GOP of exploiting immigration issue

Democratic Party chief Howard Dean accused President Bush and the Republican Party on Friday of exploiting the immigration issue for political gain by scapegoating Hispanics. Dean and Bush agree on the legislation at the heart of the debate. Both support a Senate bill that would expand guest-worker programs for an estimated 400,000 immigrants each year.

However, at a speech in an Oakland union hall, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate sought to tie Bush to a much tougher House bill that would tighten borders and make it a crime to be in the United States illegally or to offer aid to illegal immigrants. Bush does not back the House bill.

"This is a nonsensical proposal put out by far right-wingers in the Republican Party who have been endorsed for re-election by the president of the United States," Dean said. "The president has a moral obligation to rein in the right-wing extremists in his party and stop this divisive rhetoric about immigrants."

Bush has spent his political career courting Hispanic voters, the nation's fastest-growing voting bloc, and he has helped double the GOP's share of the Hispanic vote since 2000. Nevertheless, Dean accused Bush and fellow Republicans of demagoguery in the immigration debate, saying it fit with a long-standing pattern. He cited the president's opposition to the University of Michigan's affirmative-action program and Bush's decision to "pick on" homosexuals - an apparent reference to the gay marriage issue in the 2004 election.

"In 2006 it's immigrants. That's what their strategy is on the Republican side: divide people, scapegoat them, set them aside, point the finger at them," Dean said. "Well, that may be good for the Republican Party, but it's bad for America, and we're not going to do that."

Danny Diaz, a Republican National Committee spokesman, said Dean was twisting the facts on immigration. "While Republicans are engaged in a debate to reform immigration so it benefits our country as a whole, Dean and the Democrats are focused on manipulating the subject in a way that benefits no one but themselves," Diaz said. "It is clear that the chair of the Democrat Party does not feel constrained by the truth or the facts."

In Mexico on Friday, Bush said the United States must enforce the laws protecting borders but he also repeated his support for a "guest worker program that would allow undocumented immigrants already in the country to remain."

Diaz has it right. Howard Dean will say anything, no matter how much at variance with the facts it may be, as long as it will benefit the Democrat party. The man is shameless, but, we have to hand it to him, he is entertaining. He's amusing in the same odd way that Baghdad Bob, the guy who kept appearing on tv during the Iraq invasion to tell us that the Marines at the gates of Baghdad were really still back in Kuwait, was amusing.

If Only

The Associated Press is reporting that congressional Democrats, led by Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi have put out a statement today which notes that the U.S. is involved in grave undertakings around the world and that these matters are of too serious a nature to be hindered by partisan political jockeying.

These Democrat leaders therefore wish to announce that they stand foursquare behind the president and his administration as he seeks to navigate the ship of state through treacherous shoals, and they offer him their full support for the duration of these perilous times.

They state that although he has made missteps in his conduct of foreign and domestic policy, on balance he has provided outstanding leadership to our nation during several very trying crises, and that the seriousness of his task requires nothing less of a loyal opposition than full support and constructive, rather than destructive, criticism. Henceforth, Senator Reid declared, the president can count fully on the Democrats for that support.

When asked for a reaction a White House spokesman noted that today is April 1st.