09/20/2004: Gem o'the Day:
Visiting Dr. Allawi at his sprawling residence is a short course in just how bad the situation has become for anybody associated with the American purpose in Iraq. To reach the house is to navigate a fantastical obstacle course of checkpoints, with Iraqi police cars and Humvees parked athwart a zigzag course through relays of concrete barriers. An hour or more is taken up with body searches and sniffing by dogs, while American soldiers man turreted machine guns. A boxlike infrared imaging device can detect the body heat of anybody approaching through a neighboring playground. The final security ring is manned by C.I.A.-trained guards from Iraqi Kurdistan. If Dr. Allawi were Ian Fleming's Dr. No, no more elaborate defenses could be conceived.
This is the man who has been chosen to lead Iraq to the haven of a democratic future, but he is sealed off about as completely as he could be from ordinary Iraqis, in the virtual certainty that insurgents will kill him if they ever get a clear shot.
Len on 09.20.04 @ 06:11 AM CST