July 17, 2003
GAGGING JUDGE MERRITT?
Instapundit mentor Gilbert Merritt is in the news a bit these days. Currently, he's criticizing the gag order he says was imposed on him by Paul Bremer when he was in Iraq as part of a judicial reform commission.
Of course, the minute Merritt landed back state-side and out of Bremer's hands, he published a piece in the local paper about an Iraqi newspaper clipping he found while overseas that finally appeared to tangibly link Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. The implied criciticism of U.S. intelligence efforts was obvious. Several bloggers, including Instapundit, have commented favourably, and criticized the media for not talking to Merritt more.
Merritt's piece wasn't new, though. The same clipping had previously been noted by the Weekly Standard. The problem with it was that it clearly wasn't a centrally approved government document, judging by the preface: "This is a list of the henchmen of the regime. Our hands will reach them sooner or later. Woe unto them."
How a "soon to be put against a wall and shot" list by the Iraqi opposition appeared in a government-censored Baghdad newspaper is still an open question, but it obviously says little new of value on the Saddam-Osama issue by itself. The fact that Merritt made a big deal of it, however, and notably without mentioning the uncomfortable preface, does seem to put Bremer's gag order on the 67-year old judge in a more positive light. Assuming we can fully believe him on that score, of course.
FOREIGN TROOP CONTRIBUTIONS UPDATE
How's the U.S. doing so far on collecting soldiers from other countries to allow it and Britain to draw down on its Iraqi contingents? Well, four countries have committed to battalion-strength or larger units so far: Italy (3,000) Poland (2,300), Ukraine (1,640), and Spain (1,100). This could fill out, with smaller countries committing a company or platoon each, to as many as 10,000 soldiers... nothing to sneeze at, but still short of the 2-3 divisions the U.S. announced it was prepared to accept, and unlikely to have any huge effect on American redeployment schedules. The Americans had hoped, originally, for a division from India, a half-division continuing on from Britain, and a division-and-a-half from everybody else. Britain's still solid, but India's pulled out and the smaller countries are still undersubscribed. The biggest and most easily deployable fill-in force would have been Turkish, but that's not going to work for all kinds of reasons... which is why, after all is said and done, it looks like the U.S. may have to go back to the UN after all.
UPDATE: And call up the National Guard, while they're at it.
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