IRAQ: News agency to address Baghdad security concerns
Iraq's government is so confident that the security gains being felt in the capital are here to stay that it plans to launch a new news agency to trumpet the good news. Ali Hadi Mohammed, head of the government's National Media Center, announced the plan Monday to a handful of foreign journalists invited to his office for a get-to-know-you session.
Even as bombings and murders decrease across the capital, though, security worries continue to dominate Baghdad life. Just getting to Mohammed's meeting proved daunting.
Checkpoints leading into the Green Zone were choked by convoys, delaying several journalists well past the appointed meeting time. At the entrance to the building where Mohammed and many government officials work, cell phones with cameras, tape recorders, batteries, and computer thumb drives were confiscated. Mohammed, an affable ex-journalist, asked how his National Media Center could make it easier for journalists to cover Iraq's government. S
uggestions poured forth: hold regular monthly news conferences with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki; make the prime minister's schedule available to the media; publicize Cabinet ministers' schedules. Mohammed nodded and said he understood. There is just one problem, he explained. "The security situation has prevented us from disclosing such information."
— Tina Susman in Baghdad