Roger L. Simon

From the Situation Room...

In the midst of live-blogging the Iraq election the other night, I received an email that got my attention. It was from the State Department situation room and, aside from the ego-flattering surprise that people so highly placed were reading this blog in the midst of such an event, it contained some disappointing (although not horribly surprising) information about CNN correspondent Jane Arraf.

Many of us had just watched Ms. Arraf waiting with what “seemed” like great dismay in front of an empty polling station in Mosul. The Iraqis were not turning out to vote. Then, an hour or so later, she popped up at another polling place in the same city that was crowded with voters, explaining that she had “switched polling places.” But she hadn’t. According to my situation room correspondent, her first venue was not a polling place at all. For whatever reasons (embarrassment? bias? both?), Ms. Arraf omitted this important fact.

My correspondent had sent me this information “off the record” and naturally I emailed him back requesting permission to publish during my live-blogging, but received no return mail. (Subsequently the same story appeared on The Corner. I don’t know where they got it.) In truth, my correspondent had gone home. Today he sent me his permission along with the clarification that he was not from State, but a member of the DoD following the event in State’s situation room that night in the interest of “interdepartmental amity.” Many of the State Department people were against the war and my correspondent concluded: “I didn’t think it would go over well if I was caught leaking good news to the outside world.”

All I can say to that is – Welcome, Condoleeza Rice!

UPDATE: To be clear, I have not checked the veracity of my correspondent, but my memory of Ms. Arraf standing outside the alleged “polling place,” describing completely blasé Iraqis (why wouldn’t they be?) would tend to corroborate the email.