Reporters on the Job

Where's Dr. Bakr? Staff writer Dan Murphy used to talk occasionally with Faik Ameen Bakr, Baghdad's head of forensics and director of the city morgue. Dr. Bakr was always careful not to discuss the sectarian background or potential perpetrators of murders, saying that could interfere with his work. But he would frankly and somewhat wearily tell Dan and other reporters about Baghdad's rising rate of murder and torture.

During his visit to the morgue to report today's story about control of the Health Ministry, Dan discovered that Bakr was out of the country. When talking with the head of security there, he casually asked how Bakr was doing and where he'd gone. The answer piqued Dan's interest.

"Those claims that he was chased out of the country are lies," the security head said. "He's just on a four-month vacation.... I have a document that proves it."

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Dan asked around, and learned that there had been a spate of news reports on Bakr's flight from the country in March, complaining of political pressure not to report full casualty numbers. "I missed the news because it occurred when Jill [Carroll] was still captive, and I wasn't following other developments in Iraq that closely," he says. And Bakr hasn't spoken to the press since.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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