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Two Quick Iraq Links

In the most recent Democratic debate, one of the moderators cited Iraq's new "de-Baathification law" as a sign of political progress there. But now the Washington Post reports that "legislation promoted as a way to return former Baathists to public life" is worded so confusingly that it might, in fact, "set off a new purge of ex-Baathists." That may explain why so many Sunnis were denouncing the bill.

Meanwhile, at the newly launched Washington Independent, Spencer Ackerman notes that one big question about U.S. strategy in Anbar is how we know that the new "Concerned Local Citizen" groups that go around and report suspicious activity to U.S. forces are actually helping the United States target Al Qaeda, as is claimed, rather than, say, using us for their own ends, or settling vendettas, or who knows what. (On that note, Marc Lynch has a invaluable analysis of the growing political fragmentation in Anbar, which remains murky.) In reply, a military spokesman told Ackerman: "It all boils down to trust." I guess I'd assumed there was a better system in place for verifying what was going on, but maybe not.

--Bradford Plumer