Hello TPM readers. Iâm honored to be minding Joshâs store while he's gone. And I know that discovering a guest blogger at your favorite site can be like showing up at a ball game to find the star player benched with a pulled hamstring. So I hope to disrupt things as little as possible, sticking mainly to familiar TPM topics -- including one of my personal favorites, Jack Abramoff -- and to (mostly) resist such pet diversions as Bob Mould, The Andy Milonakis Show, and the astounding Grizzly Man.
I'll kick off with one 2008 GOP presidential hopeful's novel perspective on the Iraq mess. Sunday's Washington Post had a big front-pager on the highly ominous rise of Shiite and Kurdish militias within the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. It seems the militiamen are carrying out assassinations, abductions, and intimidation campaigns across the country. In Basra, for instance, some uniformed Iraqi policemen don't "serve and protect" so much as execute their enemies and dump their bullet-riddled bodies at night in a garbage-filled lot.
When Republican senator/presidential hopeful George Allen was on ABC's This Week today praising the Bush administration for its training of Iraqi security forces, George Stephanopoulos suggested that the Post's story has some pretty troubling implications for that utterly essential element of our success there. Not to worry, Allen said -- factional divisions are nothing new:
[Y]ou have that even in our United States. We have local police, we have state police, and you have the FBI.
Got that? Bloodthirsty Shiite militiamen really aren't so different from, say, Virginia state troopers. To which a startled-looking Stephanopoulos objected: "They're not militias going out and killing people outside the law!"
It's amazing, come to think of it, that Stephanopoulos didn't burst into laughter. There may be reassuring responses to the Post's story, but Allen's certainly wasn't one of them. Let's hope someone in the White House has a better answer. <$NoAd$>