Slandering the Egyptian Shoe Thrower

From the Associated Press:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved yesterday to undermine the popularity of the Iraqi who threw his shoes at President Bush, saying the journalist confessed that the attack was coordinated by a militant known for slitting his victims’ throats….

“He revealed . . . that a person provoked him to commit this act, and that person is known to us for slitting throats,” Maliki said, according to the prime minister’s website. The alleged instigator was not named and neither Maliki nor any of his officials would elaborate.

That’s right. The prime minister makes a vague, unsubstantiated claim, and the major news outlets carry it as a lead story. If you read further down, however, you come across this:

The journalist’s family denied the claim and alleged that Zaidi [the journalist] was coerced into writing the letter, in which he was said to have requested a pardon for “the big and ugly act that I perpetrated”….

[Zaidi’s brother] said he visited his brother Sunday and found him missing a tooth and with cigarette burns on his ears. He also said his brother told him that jailers doused him with cold water while he was naked.

So it seems the basis for the prime minister’s allegations is a tortured confession. With all the popularity that the shoe thrower rightfully earned, it was clear that the powers-that-be would need to undermine him somehow.

In other news, the American death count in Iraq is now at 4,212. But don’t worry; they died bringing freedom.

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