In the “Oh, shit” department

An e-mail from a foreign correspondent that’s getting a lot of play on Romenesko and other places:

Iraqis like to call this mess ‘the situation.’ When asked ‘how are thing?’ they reply: ‘the situation is very bad.”

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn’t control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country’s roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health — which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers — has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.

I get less and less articulate the more this war drags on, but I do want to say this. The reporters remaining in Iraq are some of the bravest people on earth. They get slammed at home for not reporting the “good news,” their families are probably scared shitless, they can hardly do anything anymore, but they won’t. Fucking. Leave. They’re willing to die to try to tell us what’s going on there. And for all the faults we might find as we sit here quite safe with our keyboards, that’s a profound public service, and one that inspires, humbles and comforts me.

They need to come home safe, and when they do, they deserve every single journalistic honor that can be heaped upon them.