STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of SCIRI and commander-in-chief of the fearsome Badr Corps, left his meeting today with President Bush for a brief appearance at the U.S. Institute of Peace this afternoon. I asked Hakim: You've been accused of the abduction, torture, and execution of perhaps thousands of Sunnis. How do you respond?

He said, through a translator: "Those are only accusations. We deny them all, we reject them all. There is no evidence of any of that. It happens that there was an armed group by the name of the Badr Brigade, but by the order of Sayyid Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim [Abdul Aziz's murdered brother], they became a civil group known as the Badr Organization in 2003. Since then there has been no violence by them, no fighting."

There you have it! Hakim also wants to see the civil war escalate, according to his prepared remarks: "The strikes that [Sunni insurgents, takfiris -- his term -- and Baathists] are getting from the multinational forces are not hard enough to put an end to their acts, but leave them [to] stand up again to resume their criminal acts. This means that there is something wrong in the policies taken to deal with that danger threatening the lives of the Iraqis. Eliminating the danger of the Civil War in Iraq could only be achieved through directing decisive strikes against takfiris [the prepared statement, corrected by the translator, reads "terrorists" here], Baathists [and] terrorists in Iraq. Otherwise we'll continue to witness massacres being committed every now and then against the innocent Iraqis."

--Spencer Ackerman