Begging an Answer: Iraq Leader Meets with Senior U.S Officia

Recently, I wrote about Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi "private visit" with senior American officials, including the President, VP and Secretary of Defense, as well as key Senators and Congressmen.  This visit took place Friday, August 25, 2006.

Contemporaneous accounts only disclose Mahdi's visit with the Secretary of Defense.  AP's account was headlined,

"Rumsfeld and Iraqi official say Iraq is getting safer."

This was usually paired up with a story about the violence and chaos in Iraq and an obligatory commentary castigating Rumsfeld for some real or imagined sins mishandling Iraq. The TV guys ran quick clips of the Secretary and Mahdi outside the Pentagon accompanied by a dismissive and sneering voice—over.   Based on extensive news database searches this is the only mention of this meeting until Jackson Diehl's  Washington Post piece, which I excerpted from generously in my earlier commentary. 

While Diehl's column is generally well done, it raises far more questions than it answers. Here some questions begging to be answered (and already posed to Diehl):

1. Who are the other reporters that attended the session with VP Mahdi? 

2. Who are the Senators and Congressmen that Mahdi met with? 

3. Has the Post followed up with any of them to get their reaction to Mahdi and Sistani's  message?

4. Have any reporters been assigned to follow up with other Iraqi officials to ascertain their depth of sentiment on this issue? 

5. Did the Post dispatch anyone from the news side to the Mahdi session? 

6. Is the Post planning any "news analysis" of this visit? 

7. Why did it take more than ten days to report this story? 

8. Do you have any idea why the media seems uninterested in this apparently important development? How often does the rep. of the leading Cleric from a Muslim country we just liberated come to town looking for assurances that we are not going to abandon our security commitments? 

These questions are pending with Mr. Diehl, but this is the Internet and so I invite readers to share their knowledge with me if they can shed any light on this.

I'll concede that I don't have an advanced degree in journalism, but it seems to me this is should be a a top priority story. This is a real puzzle. For almost two weeks I've watched the Post flog the George Allen "macaca" non—story. Meanwhile, a key representative from a country that is absolutely vital to our national security calls on the nation's senior leaders about the biggest question of our time and the press figuratively yawns.

Where's all that self—righteous talk about the public's right to know? 
Should I get answers to these questions, I'll post them in future entries. Perhaps "the powers that be" (the media)  don't want these questions answered. The wishes of the Iraqi people have largely been absent from the recent debate. Focusing on this story places them front and center turning the debate upside down.
 
Christopher J. Alleva   9 06 07

Recently, I wrote about Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi "private visit" with senior American officials, including the President, VP and Secretary of Defense, as well as key Senators and Congressmen.  This visit took place Friday, August 25, 2006.

Contemporaneous accounts only disclose Mahdi's visit with the Secretary of Defense.  AP's account was headlined,

"Rumsfeld and Iraqi official say Iraq is getting safer."

This was usually paired up with a story about the violence and chaos in Iraq and an obligatory commentary castigating Rumsfeld for some real or imagined sins mishandling Iraq. The TV guys ran quick clips of the Secretary and Mahdi outside the Pentagon accompanied by a dismissive and sneering voice—over.   Based on extensive news database searches this is the only mention of this meeting until Jackson Diehl's  Washington Post piece, which I excerpted from generously in my earlier commentary. 

While Diehl's column is generally well done, it raises far more questions than it answers. Here some questions begging to be answered (and already posed to Diehl):

1. Who are the other reporters that attended the session with VP Mahdi? 

2. Who are the Senators and Congressmen that Mahdi met with? 

3. Has the Post followed up with any of them to get their reaction to Mahdi and Sistani's  message?

4. Have any reporters been assigned to follow up with other Iraqi officials to ascertain their depth of sentiment on this issue? 

5. Did the Post dispatch anyone from the news side to the Mahdi session? 

6. Is the Post planning any "news analysis" of this visit? 

7. Why did it take more than ten days to report this story? 

8. Do you have any idea why the media seems uninterested in this apparently important development? How often does the rep. of the leading Cleric from a Muslim country we just liberated come to town looking for assurances that we are not going to abandon our security commitments? 

These questions are pending with Mr. Diehl, but this is the Internet and so I invite readers to share their knowledge with me if they can shed any light on this.

I'll concede that I don't have an advanced degree in journalism, but it seems to me this is should be a a top priority story. This is a real puzzle. For almost two weeks I've watched the Post flog the George Allen "macaca" non—story. Meanwhile, a key representative from a country that is absolutely vital to our national security calls on the nation's senior leaders about the biggest question of our time and the press figuratively yawns.

Where's all that self—righteous talk about the public's right to know? 
Should I get answers to these questions, I'll post them in future entries. Perhaps "the powers that be" (the media)  don't want these questions answered. The wishes of the Iraqi people have largely been absent from the recent debate. Focusing on this story places them front and center turning the debate upside down.
 
Christopher J. Alleva   9 06 07