The Most Secure Corner of Baghdad

NPR Senior Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins, who's currently in Baghdad, sent in this observation today:

Your correspondent recently came across one small measure to gauge the state of the war in Iraq. Spending half a day getting a press card in the massively fortified Green Zone where the new Iraqi government and the U.S. military and diplomatic commands are hunkered down, he met a U.S. Marine major from Wisconsin who is one of a seven-man unit that is assigned to the old Hussein palace that houses the U.S. Embassy.

Three years and counting into the war that President Bush insists is going just fine, the Marine officer casually mentioned a recent mortar round that had come in through the roof and exited the floor in one of the air-conditioned trailers that serve as housing. Luckily, the mortar was a dud and didn't explode. Such random shelling of mostly unexploding ordnance is such a common occurrence still that the Marine and his units keep tabs as to who has had the closest near-miss. The good major said he was the odd man out in the competition, but his closest miss was 18 feet. Every other member of his unit has had a closer call. This, in the most secure corner of Baghdad.

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