Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, is a senior reporter for The Washington Independent.

Recent Articles

CALM BEFORE THE...

CALM BEFORE THE... It was a good day for the 57th Military Police Company. The call came as the company commander, Captain Rob McNellis , was leaving a routine check of an Iraqi Police station off of Haifa Street in western Baghdad: residents in this run-down and heavily Shiite area had spotted a car they hadn't noticed parked here anytime recently. As they perhaps wouldn't have done in the past, they called the local cops, who in turn contacted a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division, which is the "landowner" division here. The 1st Cav unit contacted "EOD" -- Explosive Ordnance DIvision -- and within an hour, it was clear: the car was rigged to detonate. U.S. and Iraqi troops cleared civilians out of the area and blew the car up themselves. McNellis and his company can be forgiven a certain pride: as they're mentoring, training, and equipping the police, they basically got two benefits in one: First, they got to a Vehicle-Born Improvised Explosive Device before it detonated in a congested...

THE LAST THROES.

THE LAST THROES. It's truly the End Times when George W. Bush appears a paragon of truth and candor, but Dick Cheney rides a pale horse. In Cheney's interview with Wolf Blitzer last night, we learned: Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we will continue to have enormous successes. Bush, of course, said two weeks ago that "Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed." On Tuesday, Lieutenant General David Petraeus said the situation was "dire," and assured the Senate that he wouldn't hesitate to declare failure if the situation warrants it. The hippies are everywhere! --Spencer Ackerman

Surgin' General

God is unfair to Lieutenant General David Petraeus. There isn't a single general in the Army better prepared to command American forces in Iraq. During his confirmation hearing yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he referred to the " shab el-Iraqi ," which is Arabic for "the people of Iraq" -- probably the first time any prospective corps commander decided to refer to Iraqis the way they refer to themselves. In discussions of Iraq's sectarian conflict, Petraeus cautioned that Iraq is more than just Sunni, Shiite and Kurd, and then talked about the Yazidi and Shabak minorities. (I confess I had no clue who the Shabak are, and had to Wikipedia them to make sure I even heard Petraeus correctly.) For four hours, Petraeus showed that his assessment of the troubles Iraq faces possesses a level of subtlety and granularity unrivaled by his colleagues. The problem is he won't be able to capitalize on it. The job Petraeus is being asked to perform -- implementing the surge --...

EVERYTHING KEEPING US TOGETHER IS FALLING APART

EVERYTHING KEEPING US TOGETHER IS FALLING APART . One more thing about the SOTU. Bush relied on the familiar case that you and your family will die if we withdraw from Iraq: "[O]ut of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America." One of the bravest journalists there is, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad , recently spent some time among the Sunni insurgents and found an encouraging pocket of Sunni discontent with al-Qaeda : This man who had spent the last three years fighting the Americans was now willing to talk to them, not because he wanted to make peace but because he saw the Americans as the lesser of two evils. He was wrestling with the same dilemma as many Sunni insurgent leaders, beginning to doubt the wisdom of their alliance with al-Qaida extremists. Another insurgent commander told me: "At the beginning al-Qaida had the money and the organisation, and we had nothing." But this alliance...

WHAT IF THEY HELD AN OCCUPIER-SUSTAINED SECTARIAN DEMOCRACY AND NO ONE SHOWED UP?

WHAT IF THEY HELD AN OCCUPIER-SUSTAINED SECTARIAN DEMOCRACY AND NO ONE SHOWED UP? Did you notice how President Bush snuck back in a reference to a "democratic Iraq" in the SOTU? During his latest iteration of the not-the-fight-we-entered mission, Bush had scaled back his goal to that of a "free nation that can sustain itself and defend itself." Bush may be mired in confusion, but Iraqi parliamentarians aren't: according to the New York Times , there hasn't been a parliamentary quorum since November : Some of Iraq�s more seasoned leaders say attendance has been undermined by a widening sense of disillusionment about Parliament�s ability to improve Iraqis� daily life. The country�s dominant issue, security, is almost exclusively the policy realm of the American military and the office of the prime minister. Every bombing like the one on Monday, which killed 88 people at a downtown market, suggests to some that Parliament�s laws are irrelevant in the face of sprawling chaos and the...

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