Where is he?
(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed )
This the soldier Bush ordered abandoned
Ahmed Qusai al-Taei and his wife
Wed Nov 01, 2006 at 06:35:06 PM PST
We didn't want or support this war, but for God's sake, this man was 41, he answered his adopted country's call for soldiers and went to Iraq when he could have stayed home.
Meet Ahmed Qusai al-Taei. He's an American. He's a soldier. And he's been kidnapped in Iraq.
He was kidnapped at gunpoint on October 23rd, when militiamen handcuffed him and shoved him into the trunk of a car. The military immediately set up roadblocks and checkpoints in Sadr City, a neighborhood of Baghdad where it was suspected the kidnappers were hiding the captured soldier. Every car in and out of the area was inspected for him. Houses were searched. Drones were used. The full force of the United States military demonstrated that it would not leave a man behind.
Until the Iraqi government forced us out of Sadr City. The military obeyed, and retreated. And the soldier's fate remains unknown.
I'm sure that the military is still looking for him; I have no doubt in my mind that they are doing everything they can to find him. But I do know that their efforts have been greatly impeded by the Prime Minister Maliki's demand that we abandon the one search area where the soldier would most likely be found.
Since then, I've stuggled to wrap my mind around the fact that an American is trapped, and we can't get to him. Some say packing up in Sadr City may be part of the negotiation for the soldier's release. Perhaps. But if it wasn't--if this abandonment of the Sadr City search is what it appears to be at face value--then it stands as yet another disastrous and perhaps deadly result of our failed Iraq policy. But it also stands for so much more.
You see, there's a missing person in Sadr City. And he's an American, and he's a soldier. But the media--at the very least, the television media--doesn't seem to care.
In June, two American soldiers went missing, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon. The White House assured America that the President was being "briefed regularly" on the search. And the press cared. On June 19th, the press asked for an update, and Tony Snow responded. For the brief amount of the time these soldiers were missing, the news networks provided a steady stream of coverage, including tearful coverage of their families.
Sadly, the tortured, booby-trapped, and beheaded bodies of these heroes were found several days later in the streets of Baghdad.
I cannot help but compare that situation to the one here. Ahmed Qusai al-Taei is missing. Yet there were no questions from the press pool the day after his abduction (though plenty of questions about the President's campaigning). No questions on the 26th (though lots of questions about the President's campaigning). No mention of him on the 27th, or the 30th. Only yesterday did the subject come up in the White House briefing room, and then, as an aside.
The TV press hasn't aired pleas from him family--at least not from his American family. And it's not that they can't be found; a journalist who has been in contact with the family has informed me that his mother is understandably "exhausted and distraught."
Why is there so little attention paid to such a huge story?
The cynic in me (whose voice seems to get louder and louder in my head as the election approaches) says that the government is intentionally downplaying the story this time around. But it may also be that all are reluctant to state the embarrassing, shameful, and obvious assessment: that the greatest military in the world has bowed down to the government of a failed state. Our failures in Iraq have put us in a vulnerable position, so vulnerable in fact that in matters of life and death, our hands are bound by the by-product of our own incompetence.
Ahmed Qusai al-Taei has been missing for nine days. Yet all the press can talk about is the verbal gaffe of former soldier who isn't even on the ballot next week, while an abandoned soldier languishes behind enemy lines.
That, dear frenzied members of the press and frantic fakers of the right, that is the greatest insult of all.
We owe him. He served this country and no matter how bad his judgement, and it was bad, we owe, him, his family, his unit, to find out his fate.
What people have to understand is that Sadr doesn't even control his own people. They fight in his name, but he only has the broadest control over them. They might not even know where this guy is.
We live in a country run by cowards. They have placed us in this impossible situation, and like a losing congressional race, they retreat.
But remember, the military went into Iraqi-American communities and ask men like him to join up to "liberate Iraq". Now, after at least one tour, he's been kidnapped and the White House is sitting on their hands, hoping the magic men of Special Forces or Delta can spring him loose before they find him with drill holes in his neck before he's been shot.
And make no mistake, this decision came from the White House. Directly. It couldn't come from any other place or given by any other person.
Anyone want to debate that Sadr isn't the man behind the curtain in Iraq now? It wasn't the Hakims giving the orders.
posted by Steve @ 2:22:00 AM