Reporters on the Job

Backtracking in Baghdad: Reporting today's story about Iraq's now-defunct neighborhood councils (page 1) produced some grim surprises for staff writer Dan Murphy. Dan had followed a democratic experiment in two Baghdad neighborhoods since 2004, tracking their founding with US funding and guidance.

He hadn't checked in with either council for nine months and was shocked to learn about several deaths, including that of Abdel Rahim, who was "probably the most gracious and friendly man I've met in a land of gracious and friendly people. It's not the right word for the Arab world, but he was a realmensch - a tough guy, but tough in a way that made him open," says Dan.

Dan also learned that Mohammed Munthur Kadoori, another council member, was assassinated. Mr. Kadoori, recalls Dan, gave him one of the more amusing anecdotes to share with friends and colleagues. After months of trying, Kadoori had finally convinced a US officer to give him a handgun - not only for protection but prestige. When Dan saw him next, Kadoori proudly displayed the gun. The last time Dan saw him, Kadoori was limping. "He had tried to stash the gun in his waistband at the back, but forgot to put the safety on and, well, he shot himself in the posterior,'' says Dan. "There was no permanent damage and he was laughing about it - an absurd injury given everything going on in Iraq. But now, of course, the story just isn't funny anymore."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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