YOU’RE NOT PARANOID IF THE MILITIAS ARE REALLY AFTER YOU.
Len Baldyga just pointed me to a Post story from Monday, “VOA's Baghdad Bureau Still Closed After Six Months,” which tells the story of VOA’s pullout from the Iraqi capital last December. VOA’s Alisha Ryu reported on a few things the Shi’ite militias thought she shouldn’t have—like the whole business of torturing over 160 mostly Sunnis at that secret dungeon in the Interior Ministry.
After that, Ryu started having vague feelings that something was wrong; bombs went off outside her hotel, gunmen ambushed her car, her bodyguard was kidnapped, nagging little things like that. She left Iraq, which is completely understandable—but VOA hasn’t sent someone to replace her, and it’s been six months with no VOA reporter in probably the most important journalistic posting in the world. Ryu attributes this to the fact that no one at VOA volunteered to take her place.
But the Post’s Howard Kurtz got an anonymous source to squeak that VOA simply can’t afford the big security budget that the major private media can. Besides decent armor for U.S. soldiers and their vehicles, I can’t think of a better use of taxpayer dollars than to make sure that a reporter has someone—preferably a dozen heavily armed someones complete with air support, which is standard procedure for the lowliest Green Zone clerk traveling back and forth to the Baghdad airport—watching her back.