Awful Day


Even though I've been home for five days, my fiancee is still shaken, and frankly a little angry, about my time in Iraq. Her nerves weren't exactly calmed this morning. She woke me up to tell me that a freelance writer, from New York no less, was killed in Basra.Steven Vincent, author of "In the Red Zone," wrote an op-ed in Sunday's New York Times that lit into British authorities for allowing the local police to be inflitrated by Shi'ite extremists.

An Iraqi police lieutenant, who for obvious reasons asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to me the widespread rumors that a few police officers are perpetrating many of the hundreds of assassinations - mostly of former Baath Party members - that take place in Basra each month. He told me that there is even a sort of "death car": a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment.
Yesterday, Vincent was kidnapped "by masked gunman in a pick-up truck as they left a moneychanger's shop... The gunmen may have been in a police vehicle." Vincent's body was found this morning.Before I left for Iraq, a pair of Marines warned me -- and the crew of young troops they were training -- not to trust the Iraqi army or police forces, under any circumstances. Treat them as hostiles. Too many of them were insurgent agents, only pretending to be on the government's side.The advice kept going through my head this morning, as I read about Vincent's death, and the ambush of six marine snipers, near Haditha. "The attack is eerily similar to one in nearby Ramadi more than a year ago," MSNBC notes. "In both cases, it's feared the Marines were betrayed by insurgents who had infiltrated the Iraqi military."When I was in Iraq, I saw the increasing number of patrols by local police and army units as a good thing. Now, in hindsight, I'm not so sure.
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