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Jill Carroll has been released unharmed
March 30, 2006 5:21 AM   Subscribe

"She was released this morning, she's talked to her father and she's fine" Jill Carroll has been released and is safe. [newsfilter]
posted by stilgar (79 comments total)

 
that is good news.
posted by ph00dz at 5:27 AM on March 30, 2006


Excellent. I thought for sure she was a goner.
posted by moonbiter at 5:27 AM on March 30, 2006


Times link.

Think this is related to the Kember etc. release?
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:31 AM on March 30, 2006


I really hate to think this, and I hope (and assume) I'm wrong, but there's a niggling little part of my brain that wonders if she was at least partially complicit. The fact that her translator was killed allays that for me, mostly, but. . .I dunno. It seems like it doesn't add up.
posted by EarBucket at 6:02 AM on March 30, 2006


Partially complicit? Please expound on this theory.
posted by cell divide at 6:06 AM on March 30, 2006


Allah the merciful?
posted by pmbuko at 6:12 AM on March 30, 2006


I don't know. It just seems like there were an awful lot of deadlines for her execution that went past without anything happening to her. Part of me wonders if maybe she felt sympathy for the noncombatant Iraqis we've been kidnapping and holding hostage and agreed at some point to play hostage to try to get them released. I don't know that I could blame her, honestly.

Like I said, it's probably not the case, and I'm perfectly happy to be wrong about it. It just reminds me of that Marine who faked his own kidnapping by insurgents shortly after the invasion, somehow.
posted by EarBucket at 6:20 AM on March 30, 2006


You're thinking of Patty Hearst.

I'm glad she's safe.
posted by crunchland at 6:22 AM on March 30, 2006


(This is great news.)
posted by rollbiz at 6:27 AM on March 30, 2006


I'm glad she's safe, too.
posted by EarBucket at 6:30 AM on March 30, 2006


It just seems like there were an awful lot of deadlines for her execution that went past without anything happening to her.

This is the first time you've ever followed the story of a kidnapping on the news, isn't it? Because otherwise I don't see how that can possibly sound like something suspicious to you, seeing as it happens in, well, most kidnapping cases.
posted by flashboy at 6:34 AM on March 30, 2006


It's nice to see some good news come out of Iraq for a change.
posted by caddis at 6:37 AM on March 30, 2006


It just seems like there were an awful lot of deadlines for her execution that went past without anything happening to her.

Well that's the problem with kidnapping in general isn't it? If they killed her, they wouldn't have anything left to bargain with.
posted by octothorpe at 6:40 AM on March 30, 2006


This is good news. Complicitness seems unlikely to me (and I hope I am right -- let's hope that this wasn't just a good career move for her). She was fluent in Arabic and by all reports was a very careful journalist who tried to keep a low profile. That her Iraqi driver was murdered when she was kidnapped is just awful. What I wonder is whether there was an exchange of money.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:41 AM on March 30, 2006


This is the first time you've ever followed the story of a kidnapping on the news, isn't it?

Is it the first insurgent kidnapping you've followed? They haven't exactly been shy about following through on their threats when their demands aren't met. The fact that she's now being released without her captors getting any of what they want just smells a little fishy to me.
posted by EarBucket at 6:41 AM on March 30, 2006


What I wonder is whether there was an exchange of money.

You're right, that would explain a lot, and I think it's a much more likely explanation.
posted by EarBucket at 6:43 AM on March 30, 2006


What I wonder is whether there was an exchange of money.

You're right, that would explain a lot, and I think it's a much more likely explanation.


I'm as pessimistic as the next guy... but do these guys do these things for money? So far it hasn't appeared that way.
posted by AspectRatio at 7:03 AM on March 30, 2006


Well, thank Allah for some good news. Regardless of what we feel about the Iraq Invasion, the kidnapping and beheading of innocents has been utterly heart-breaking for me. I can't even bear to watch some of those videos. Jill was doing alot of good work for the Iraqis and I'm glad to hear she wont end up a martyr for the cause.
posted by Dantien at 7:04 AM on March 30, 2006


Thank goodness, Allah, Buddha, and whoever made this happen. I'm happy for her.

The one thing I am still trying to figure out is, if the kidnappers "never even threatened" to hit her, as she claims, why was she crying on one of the recent videos? Homesickness?

I'm not trying to be oversuspicious, just earnestly curious.

But yay -- another win for humanity.
posted by digaman at 7:05 AM on March 30, 2006


from the Times link:

Richard Bergenheim, the editor of The Christian Science Monitor, for which Ms. Carroll was reporting at the time of her kidnapping, said that there had been "absolutely no negotiations for her release" and had never been any contact with her captors.

Doesn't mean he's telling the truth, but that's the party line.
posted by TeamBilly at 7:06 AM on March 30, 2006


I don't know. It just seems like there were an awful lot of deadlines for her execution that went past without anything happening to her.

Which would be an obvious thing to happen if there's an active negotiation trying to get her freed.

You honestly think she had her driver murdered?

*rolls eyes*

Maybe she's actually u.n. owen. She was a journalist, right?

I'm as pessimistic as the next guy... but do these guys do these things for money? So far it hasn't appeared that way.

There are a ton of kidnapping for money things going on over there.
posted by delmoi at 7:12 AM on March 30, 2006


I'm as pessimistic as the next guy... but do these guys do these things for money? So far it hasn't appeared that way.

They probably don't do it for the money initially. But if you've got a hostage that proves worthless politically, wouldn't you take the consolation prize? If you want to ascribe a political motive, tell yourself that the hostage-takers will use the money to further their pocket of insurgency.

Personally, I like to imagine that she's just unpleasant and they got so sick of her that one of her captors finally threw down his AK, opened the door and said "Jesus Christ! Go! Just fucking go, please!" But I doubt that happened. Anyway, good for her that she's free.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:14 AM on March 30, 2006


The fact that she's now being released without her captors getting any of what they want just smells a little fishy to me.

because of course you just know that nobody paid any money, right? you must know that, or you wouldn't accuse her of being complicit in a murder and a fake kidnapping, I hope.

are you the publisher of the Christian Science Monitor? or do you work for the CIA in Baghdad? I mean, it must be one of the above, for you to be so sure that no ransom has been paid
posted by matteo at 7:15 AM on March 30, 2006


You honestly think she had her driver murdered?

No, I didn't say that. However, I wouldn't rule out a staged kidapping going wrong, a planted body (I imagine they're relatively easy to come by in Baghdad), Stockholm Syndrome after the fact, or any number of things. Note that I haven't at any point suggested that this is even the most likely scenario. I just think there are some unresolved questions around this whole thing. Jessica Lynch's "rescue" turned out to be more complicated than it first appeared, too.
posted by EarBucket at 7:16 AM on March 30, 2006


Why do you think the captors aren't getting what they want?

For some reason I doubt that. A skinny white American girl? I have a feeling these guys hit the jackpot. This story is a media and political gift. The politicians get some good news out of Iraq, the media gets to flash her face 24/7, and everybody feels good while the rest of the country slides a bit further into civil war. But gifts are never free.
posted by nixerman at 7:19 AM on March 30, 2006


because of course you just know that nobody paid any money, right? you must know that, or you wouldn't accuse her of being complicit in a murder and a fake kidnapping, I hope.


Geez. All I said was I didn't think it was the case, but that it seemed to me it was at least a possibility. I didn't accuse her of anything.
posted by EarBucket at 7:20 AM on March 30, 2006


I really hate to think this, and I hope (and assume) I'm wrong, but there's a niggling little part of my brain that wonders if she was at least partially complicit.

Ha. That's exactly what I said this morning too, when I heard on the radio that she'd been released. "Well, she'll get a hell of a book deal out of this. And isn't that a nice career boost for a freelance journalist." And then I immediately felt completely jaded and ashamed of myself. And her translator was killed. I can't imagine letting that happen for a fake kidnapping.

But still, who ever knows? I will say, I'd even prefer a sham kidnapping to another beheaded journalist. So whatever happened, it's good news that she's free and safe.
posted by rusty at 7:21 AM on March 30, 2006


I find it incredibly unlikely that someone would put their family through such agonies in order to get a story, especially a twin with a close relationship with their counterpart.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:29 AM on March 30, 2006


Don't feel bad Earbucket. Your reaction was the same as mine. Ignore matteo's hyperbole.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:41 AM on March 30, 2006


And I was betting she had gone for the "Or marry Mohammed and LIVE" option.
posted by HTuttle at 7:42 AM on March 30, 2006


Allah the merciful?

And Pat Robertson likes puppies!
posted by HTuttle at 7:45 AM on March 30, 2006


Ignore matteo's hyperbole

it's not hyperbole, it's fact. we just don't know that the kidnappers didn't get anything, as he is assuming. there's no way to know because if you pay you pay secretly, and you don't admit that in public.

he's basing an entire (wild) theory on a huge "if".
posted by matteo at 7:54 AM on March 30, 2006


John Podhoretz slimes Jill Carroll.

Look, I'm as cynical as the next guy, but if the right wing is going to complain there isn't enough positive coverage of Iraq, they have no right attacking someone who actually speaks the language and wanted to get closer to the story. I'm thankful she's safe. Advancing her career as well? Nobody said that about Laura Ingraham when she stayed at Club Green Zone for a few weeks.
posted by bardic at 8:02 AM on March 30, 2006


I agree Matteo: a huge if. Your reaction just seemed a little over the top compared to Earbucket's skepticism. No harm, no foul.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:06 AM on March 30, 2006


We have a rash of Sherlocks lately who know it all. The Walmart story was a big fake and so is Jill Carroll. How do these Sherlocks know? They just are smarter than you. Who needs real evidence when you are that smart? Astute analysis of probable outcomes or rash speculation?
posted by caddis at 8:20 AM on March 30, 2006


The one thing I am still trying to figure out is, if the kidnappers "never even threatened" to hit her, as she claims, why was she crying on one of the recent videos?

Because being held against your will, regardless of how well you are treated by your captors, is a soul shattering experience?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:26 AM on March 30, 2006


Hurray. Notice how the media, however, is failing to cover this "good news" from Iraq. On the other hand, all I see on the news are reports about the 2 US soldiers killed yesterday and the 1700 dead in civil strife in the last month. /sarcasm.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:26 AM on March 30, 2006


I'm amazed at the slimy innuendo exhibited throughout this whole affair.

*nudge nudge*
She wears a headscarf and speaks the language
*wink wink*
posted by fullerine at 8:31 AM on March 30, 2006


Bunny Lebowski is a reporter now? Man, I gotta keep up.
posted by trondant at 8:43 AM on March 30, 2006


I'm as pessimistic as the next guy... but do these guys do these things for money? So far it hasn't appeared that way.

Actually, there have been a fair number of accounts of how there is a booming kidnapping industry in Iraq because it's quite profitable.
posted by moonbiter at 9:08 AM on March 30, 2006


As far as I know, Iraquis are generally kidnapped for money (in huge numbers), while foreigners are ostensibly kidnapped for politics - but there's plenty of exceptions. Some countries are fairly open about paying multi-million dollar sums for the release of their citizens (Germany), while others officially deny it, but there's a widespread belief that money was paid (Italy).

Around half of the foreigners who've been kidnapped in Iraq have been released or rescued. Very many of those have passed several execution deadlines before eventually being freed - Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden being the most recent examples.
posted by flashboy at 9:44 AM on March 30, 2006


Around half of the foreigners who've been kidnapped in Iraq have been released or rescued. Very many of those have passed several execution deadlines before eventually being freed - Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden being the most recent examples.

Thanks, flashboy, I didn't realize that. Good to know.
posted by EarBucket at 10:08 AM on March 30, 2006


Personally, I like to imagine that she's just unpleasant and they got so sick of her that one of her captors finally threw down his AK, opened the door and said "Jesus Christ! Go! Just fucking go, please!" But I doubt that happened. Anyway, good for her that she's free.

Ah, the O. Henry maneuver.
posted by obfusciatrist at 10:22 AM on March 30, 2006


There are a ton of kidnapping for money things going on over there.

Yeah, but usually those cases involve locals and ransoms. Foreigners aren't usually kidnapped for money...
posted by AspectRatio at 11:01 AM on March 30, 2006


There's also a very similar possibility Daniel Pearl's wife got him tortured and beheaded in order to get a book deal. Come on, admit it, the thought must have crossed your mind when the book came out!

Never underestimate the lengths people can go to pursue fame!

Uh...
posted by funambulist at 11:04 AM on March 30, 2006


I can see the possibility that she was complicit. The kidnapper's demands were too reasonable, and they ignored too many deadlines. It just doesn't fit the pattern of the other politically-motivated kidnappings over there. Sure, it's possible it's a fluke, but I think there's a real possibility she set up this whole thing to try to get those women out of custody herself.

As for the translator, there are all kinds of potential explanations. Maybe he just got killed during the fighting over there one day, and she took advantage of it. Maybe she hired a guy she knew was already dead and planted the body. It's a crazy place over there right now, no time for detailed forensics work or anything.

I suppose it's possible that she got picked up by the only kidnappers in the entire middle east who aren't complete scum-sucking bastards, but I'm not sure it's the most reasonable explanation.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:26 AM on March 30, 2006


Maybe she hired a guy she knew was already dead and planted the body.

I'm having a bit of trouble with this concept. How do you hire a dead translator?
posted by funambulist at 11:33 AM on March 30, 2006


funambulist: I'm having a bit of trouble with this concept. How do you hire a dead translator?

Well, you take a corpse no one else knows is dead (it helps if he's a known translator or at least speaks English) and tell everyone "I'm hiring *name* as a translator on my next project." Then you dump his body at the scene and go off somewhere to hide with your local friends. Simple enough.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:37 AM on March 30, 2006


I suppose it's possible that she got picked up by the only kidnappers in the entire middle east who aren't complete scum-sucking bastards

Numbers of foreign hostages in Iraq.

If I can still count, the total of those released so far is 126.
posted by funambulist at 11:43 AM on March 30, 2006


Mitrovarr, are you serious? if that's "simple enough", then what would be the far-fetched version? Animating the corpse and making him speak Arabic?

I frankly don't even understand why the need for this sort of conspiracy theories.

See also above figures. Lots of other hostages got released. Unless you start positing the possibility they might all have faked their kidnapping for some reason and staged the most amazing mass scam ever perpetrated, you've got to explain what's so weird about Jill Carroll to warrant this kind of bizarre speculation. I don't get it.
posted by funambulist at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2006


Mitrovarr, your theory here sounds quite looney.
posted by caddis at 1:25 PM on March 30, 2006


Mitrovarr and Earbucket are beneath contempt.

Earbucket, you (like John Hinderaker -- a mentor, perhaps?) seem to make the assumption that there's only one kind of "insurgent" in Iraq. There are at least three types -- the Islamist jihadis who crave martyrdom and apostates' blood are actually pretty rare. More common would seem to be sectarian Sunnis or Shi'ites seeking dominance for their faction. Then there are the secular Ba'athists. But the kidnapping was almost surely more likely a criminal gang who hoped to "sell" their captive to another group.

Maybe they got bored, maybe they realized they wouldn't get any money, maybe they were swayed by Jill's sister's appeal on Iraqi television this week (or maybe somebody with influence over them was), or maybe the insurgent strategy is just changing. Lately there's been a huge uptick in ethnic cleansing, anti-collaborationist executions, execution-robberies of businesses, and other "civil war" types of activities.

In fact, it's entirely possible that the whole motivation for most kidnappings is, in fact, simply money. Money to pay insurgents with, and to buy ammunition or IED parts.

It doesn't matter. Just by opening your mouths (through which you apparently breathe) you've revealed your profound ignorance of what's going on.
posted by dhartung at 3:16 PM on March 30, 2006


She was on TV just now saying that they had treated her decently - food, bathing, movement within the building, etc.; no abuse at all.

And it occurred to me, some Iraqi kidnappers treat their captives better than the U.S. occupation forces treat theirs.
posted by jam_pony at 4:17 PM on March 30, 2006


Why is it considered so horrible to even bring up the possibility? Activists have done things both loonier and more dangerous in the past. It's not completely unthinkable that she was unhappy with the plight of captured women in our Iraqi prisons (certainly something one could easily be unhappy with) and pulled a stunt to try to save some of them.

It just seems unlikely that the kidnappers would capture someone, kill their translator, and then let her go after not having their demands fully met. It doesn't fit their pattern of action and it doesn't make sense; if they start letting hostages go without getting their demands met, they're less likely to get them met in the future, and now that she's back she might be able to blow the kidnapper's cover. If they killed the translator it shows they weren't afraid to kill people. I suppose it's possible that they were swayed by her sister's pleas; I doubt these battle-hardened murderers are so emotional and so easily swayed, but it's not inconceivable.

The possibility that they were quietly paid off is probably the most likely one in the case that it was genuine. Or, she did in fact manage to luck out and get kidnappers that weren't completely evil. I'm not saying it's impossible that it's real, just that something about this feels kind of strange and makes me wonder if everything about this is the way it's been presented.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:12 PM on March 30, 2006


republicans are fucking pigs.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:43 PM on March 30, 2006


Mitrovarr and Earbucket are beneath contempt.
Earbucket, you (like John Hinderaker -- a mentor, perhaps?)


Jesus Christ, don't you ever have a small voice in your head that would give you pause before you hit the post button? Maybe you should give it a listen? While your knowledge is certainly impressive, so is your overreaction.

Maybe they....

Yes, dhartung - maybe. That's the point. Maybe there's more to the story? Skepticism is certainly healthy and of all people on MetaFilter, I'd think you could embrace that.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:47 PM on March 30, 2006


Activists have done things both loonier and more dangerous in the past.

Carroll is not an "activist". She is a journalist, who was employed by a major professional US news outlet. Before she got her job with the Christian Science Monitor, she worked for MSNBC and the Wall Street Journal. Her college degree is in journalism, and she has no apparent ties with any "activist" groups. She wasn't running around behind the scenes trying to interview black-hooded insurgents, she was going to speak with Adnan al Dulaimi, who happens to be a major politician in the new Parliament.

She's a goddamn reporter. She was reporting on the political process in Iraq, that "good news" the media is always ignoring, except when they're risking their fucking necks to get it.

What on earth leads you to suspect that she's an "activist", which you apparently associate with being "loony" and "dangerous"? This spin is not only transparent, it's contemptible.

Kevin: Give that advice to the people who are accusing a woman of having a friend and colleague murdered in the pursuit of a political agenda, perhaps? I'm OK, here.
posted by dhartung at 7:39 PM on March 30, 2006


dhartung: What on earth leads you to suspect that she's an "activist", which you apparently associate with being "loony" and "dangerous"? This spin is not only transparent, it's contemptible.

Well, she's over in a war zone as an independant reporter. That doesn't say she's an activist, but it suggests it is a possibility. As for activists being loony and doing dangerous things, well, sometimes they are, and sometimes they do. Sit there with a straight face and tell me that PETA doesn't have its share of loonies. And whether for noble reasons or crazy ones, lots of them expose themselves to danger.

I did not in any way mean to say that all activists are loony and dangerous. I did not say or imply 'all', and I said they sometimes did dangerous things, which means something else entirely than being dangerous. Quit corrupting my words.

Look, I just don't think a lot of the details of her story add up. Her kidnappers acted in uncharacteristic manners. If you disagree with the possibility and wish to debate it, that's fine, but wipe the damned froth from your mouth. The information thus far posted does support the idea that it was legitimate (I did not know about her previous, more legitimate employers and the released hostages) but your raging hostility is just forcing everyone to polarize behind their own side.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:24 PM on March 30, 2006


You're always ok here, dhartung. I respect your opinion on these things so my reaction was, again, more in response to the tone (a difficult thing to convey here, I know).

Earbucket's initial reaction was very similar to mine when I first heard the news. It generally flys in the face of recent history in regard to kidnappers, their hostages and the usually fatal outcome. I say this not really knowing the different factions and agenda that these kidnappers have. It was just a gut response to this particular case. I will, however, not engage in some of the wild speculation about her motivations, if any. I'm glad and happy she's safe right now.

P.S. Am I the only one who throws up just a little when seeing the name "John Hinderaker"?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:24 PM on March 30, 2006


Why is it considered so horrible to even bring up the possibility?

Mitrovar, let's leave aside what kind of judgement on the person your theory implies - you're accusing someone who got kidnapped and relased, possibly by paying a ransom, of faking a horrible situation and fooling her family, her paper, her government, her government's army and intelligence services, the entire world media and also making a mockery of the kidnapping situation for others who were less lucky, so don't try and pretend you're just positing something neutral here - it's the logic and likelihood of it that is ridiculous first of all.


It just seems unlikely that the kidnappers would capture someone, kill their translator, and then let her go after not having their demands fully met

Unlikely based on what?

Based on those numbers of those other foreigners kidnapped in Iraq who got released, it's not unlikely at all. Releases are indeed part of the kidnappers "pattern of action". They have done this before, more than 100 times!

Skepticism is a great thing, but facts and figures also are.

Based on previous cases, kidnappers release people even after repeatedly threatening to kill them (obviously, or no one would be under pressure to negotiate with the kidnappers! and obviously, they also don't abuse the kidnapped they want to keep alive, because that would compromise their chances of negotiations too!) because they got paid a ransom, OR after an exchange of favours (we release them, you release these other guys), OR, even when no actual specific demand is met, simply because detaining foreign hostages is in itself a very effective political act of getting media attention, as well as an act of threat and blackmail for any other foreigners already in Iraq or planning to go there. It's part of the strategy of them not wanting intereference from outside and wanting to be able to operate undisturbed in Iraq.

It's effective - alongside terrorist bombings - as another highly prominent way of showing how bad the security level in Iraq is, and that in turn gives more power to insurgents and kidnappers, so it's a vicious circle in their favour. In fact, releases of foreign hostages, with all the attention foreign hostages can get (much more than Iraqi hostages), can be even more effective than killings, because then they create a situation where in the next kidnapping those foreign governments and militaries and intelligence services know that release is a likely outcome and so they are expected (by family, by the public, by media, etc.) to negotiate with these people. Negotiations give the kidnappers power. It's not that hard to see is it? It works the same even for ordinary criminal kidnappings, much more so for these politically motivated ones in a war situation.

So, before launching in highly unlikely speculations about a one-man or one-woman scam against the world and planting of dead bodies, just read about previous cases. That is all.
posted by funambulist at 11:57 PM on March 30, 2006


Oh, and there are hundreds, no, thousands of reporters in Iraq.

And PETA has nothing to do with this.

For the last time, please, everyone, get informed on previous cases of foreing hostages in Iraq before making assumptions about the "characteristic" modus operandi of kidnappers and believing they all end in killing just because those may be the only cases you heard of or remember. More than 100 were released. It's your own error if you're not even taking that into consideration.
posted by funambulist at 12:06 AM on March 31, 2006


Mitrovarr, fine, I respect you for responding. When you suggest that the Christian Science Monitor, which has been one of the United States' most respected newspapers for over half a century, is somehow less legitimate than MSNBC and the WSJ, though, I have to assume you only know the publication by its name.

Well, she's over in a war zone as an independant reporter. That doesn't say she's an activist, but it suggests it is a possibility.

Hmph. Laura Ingraham and Ralph Peters have been over to Iraq, most definitely as activists, but nobody ever calls them that.

Her kidnappers acted in uncharacteristic manners.

I agree it's not the outcome I expected at this point, but other hostages have been released -- a majority in fact -- so it's not unheard of either. It even happened to a photojournalist friend of Carroll's already. In fact, if you look closely at the list, you'll find that journalists are overwhelmingly released, but contractors and military personnel generally have a grimmer fate.

But again, your assumption that there is a "characteristic" manner is necessary to conclude that Carroll shares some burden of complicity. This is the right-wing bullshit line that they pulled out after the Christian Peacemaker Team hostages were freed. (After forcing the little social ritual of "thanking the troops for risking their lives", even when the hostages were rescued from an unguarded house. When that wasn't enough, the blame-the-victim game was stepped up to Why did they put American troops at risk by getting taken hostage?) Thus. If you assume that everyone over there is a monster under the skin, then it makes perfect sense to assume that anyone who isn't treated savagely must, somehow, be in collusion with monsters. Do you now see where I'm coming from? The problem with the conclusion is the assumption. And that implicit assumption is where my displeasure arose.

Now, I don't think I must tell you that -- for example -- the people who beheaded Margaret Hassan were monsters. But it doesn't follow that every kidnapping in Iraq is by murderous jihadis. In fact most kidnappings -- whether of Iraqis or Westerners -- seem to be, as I said above, criminal gangs looking mainly for money. It seems every other kidnapping is by a group nobody's heard of before, and they put out some standard demands -- release all prisoners, America go home -- and eventually take a ransom. As I said, though, many seem to release the journalists.

Since this is not unprecedented, it would be erroneous to draw conclusions based on the incident being uncharacteristic.

Am I the only one who throws up just a little when seeing the name "John Hinderaker"?

Assrocket shows up in AP stories now with ready quotes about Bush's recovery. He's always a "lawyer", though, not a "blogger". Hmmm.
posted by dhartung at 12:23 AM on March 31, 2006


It bears repeating: For US hostages, we have a 7-4 record. 7 killed, 4 released unharmed (and 1 escaped).

So, based on current stats: while it is likelier than not that will be killed, it is not a certainty, nor is it the "modus operandi" of kidnappers to kill US hostages.

The premature questioning of motives here is not skepticism, but the rhetorical equivalent of "guilty until proven innocent."
posted by moonbiter at 12:30 AM on March 31, 2006


You made a lot of assumptions about what I wrote, too.

dhartung: If you assume that everyone over there is a monster under the skin, then it makes perfect sense to assume that anyone who isn't treated savagely must, somehow, be in collusion with monsters. Do you now see where I'm coming from? The problem with the conclusion is the assumption. And that implicit assumption is where my displeasure arose.

The thing is, I DON'T assume that. If she was really taken hostage in a bloody firefight by people who savagely murdered her translator, then her captors were monsters. I would expect them to act like it and continue acting like it (certainly many kidnappers do.) Now, in light of the criminal gangs selling hostages (something I did not know about), maybe she was held by totally different people. Assuming her kidnappers were the ones holding her, however, it does not fit my understanding of criminal or insurgent behavior that such previously violent individuals would treat a hostage kindly, make reasonable demands, and release her without having all of them met. In fact, it seemed completely unbelievable.

Now, let's look at the other possibility; that something happened, perhaps there was a firefight nearby and her translator got killed, so she fled and hid with some locals she knew. Next thing she knows, everyone thinks she's been kidnapped, so she takes the opportunity to make some videos to try to save what she views as some unjustly imprisoned and badly treated women. Would she be colluding with monsters in that case? Nah, not really, she'd be trying to do a good thing working with some local rebels or insurgents of the non-violent type. To me, that seems plausible enough to be worth investigating.

I'm not accusing her of anything, I just see the possibility and think it should be investigated. Hell, the kidnapping should be investigated anyway so we can take out the kidnappers if it was real.

I just wish we could have started out being more civil, because honestly, once people started talking about all the released hostages (of which I didn't know) and about her previous career (which makes her sound like less of an activist) it does seem much less likely. But everyone immediately jumped down my throat and would have entrenched most people permanently in their position.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:50 AM on March 31, 2006


Mitrovarr, I could be wrong, but I think most of the people responding to you find the situation you propose so wildly implausible as to be ridiculous. I certainly do, to the extent that I at first assumed you were joking, until later posts made it clear that you are serious.

As to why it's drawing such ire, you are 1) accusing a person who has been through a terrible experience of being a Machievellian manipulator who would coldly let her family, friends, colleagues, and government think she was at risk of death for a good long time, 2) making such accusations with no evidence other than wild suppositions which seem bizarrely unlikely to most of the people here, and 3) perhaps unwittingly, coming uncomfortably close to the frothing-mouthed rantings of certain people who, unable to believe that Iraqis might act like human beings, cannot comprehend that a kidnap victim might have been let go alive without demands beings met, and therefore are generating paranoid conspiracy theories which usually attempt to somehow implicate Carroll.
posted by kyrademon at 2:10 AM on March 31, 2006


As I recall, I originally cast the issue as improbable but perhaps possible. It's interesting to me that simply suggesting that the story might not be as simple and happy as the little man in the TV says it is provokes such a visceral, rabid response from people.

Look, I said from the beginning I didn't think it was likely. The information presented in this thread pushes me farther in that direction. But asking a question--trying to find out more about an issue--isn't grounds for a personal attack. If you go back and read what I said, you'll see that I attributed a noble (if misguided) motive to her hypothetical actions. I think what we're doing over there is hideous, and I'd have more than a little sympathy for someone who resorted to extreme measures (without hurting anyone) to try to do something about it.

(And for what it's worth, John Hinderaker can vafanculo.)
posted by EarBucket at 4:06 AM on March 31, 2006


If she's fluent in arabic, why did she need a translator? Dialect issues?

Just curious.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:49 AM on March 31, 2006


She got kidnapped. She got let go. The suggestion that there's some conspiracy theory strikes me, in this case, as just plain fucking wacky.

Also, musical self-link.
posted by cortex at 10:21 AM on March 31, 2006


Jill Carroll Update
posted by homunculus at 1:03 PM on March 31, 2006


A quote directed at Carroll from another web forum mentioned in homonculus' link:

"... Now, wipe that muslim DNA from your face and confess to pre-planning this? ... She's probably coming home with a suitcase full of cash (her kickback) and a dose of the clap."

Does that make it a little clearer why some people are getting a little pissed about the suggestion that this may have all been a trick?
posted by kyrademon at 2:32 PM on March 31, 2006


Why would people insinuate such a thing? I really don't understand.

unable to believe that Iraqis might act like human beings, cannot comprehend that a kidnap victim might have been let go alive without demands beings met

Can that be it? That's psychotic!
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2006


Does that make it a little clearer why some people are getting a little pissed about the suggestion that this may have all been a trick?

Yes, and I want to make clear I'm not coming at it from that kind of ugly, xenophobic angle. I think her obvious empathy for the Iraqi people is admirable, and she's a very brave woman. I don't know if there was anything untoward or not, but it wouldn't be the first time a young person did something stupid because they thought it was right. The idea that it was some kind of money or publicity-grabbing stunt honestly didn't even occur to me.
posted by EarBucket at 6:03 AM on April 1, 2006


From a taped pre-release interview with Carroll:

[President Bush] doesn't care about the people here in Iraq, he needs to wake up and the people of America need to wake up and tell that what he's done here is wrong and so hopefully this time he can get the message that this war was wrong and the continuing occupation is wrong and he could change his policies. He's dangerous for Iraq. He's dangerous for America. He needs to accept that and admit that to people.

She's 100% correct.
posted by EarBucket at 6:18 AM on April 1, 2006


I don't know if there was anything untoward or not, but it wouldn't be the first time a young person did something stupid because they thought it was right.

Yeah, sure, but we're not talking about hacking or distributing pirated copies of software or setting fire to stuff in a protest against the system or anything like that. We're talking about something a lot bigger.

And, sorry to get all Law and Order on you, but what about means and motive?

Whatever anyone imagines was the motive to stage a long kidnapping that got a man killed, and the degree of unethical and criminal behaviour necessary to achieve that end (because that's what we're talking about here, not just "something stupid" - also, I believe in the US such a criminal activity would amount to treason, as well as complicity in terrorism, yes?), a single US reporter simply cannot have the means to pull off a stunt of this proportions and fool the intelligence services of, well not just their country, but every int. service operating in Iraq, which is a lot. Plus the military, govt's, media, etc. nevermind her colleagues and family.

Positing that intelligence services staged a kidnapping may be just as wild but, at least, a lot more technically possible than it being the work of a single reporters plus a bunch of willing actors passing as kidnappers or genuine kidnappers who in turn have been fooled by a Ms James Bond in disguise...

So, no matter which angle one is coming at this from, the conspiracy theory that she may have staged her own kidnapping and even "faked" someone else's death, and no one getting a wind of any of this all this time, is just plain nuts. On purely practical grounds.

(Which is exactly why that theory is coming in droves from that ugly stupid ideological angle displayed in the comment kyrademon quoted. That kind of people is never concerned with practical factors.)
posted by funambulist at 8:30 AM on April 1, 2006


Jill Carroll Statement
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on April 1, 2006


During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed.

Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not.
Well of course she's saying that now! how very convenient!
/sarcasm


I find it scary that there's people stupid and/or vile enough out there to need to be told this...
posted by funambulist at 1:55 PM on April 1, 2006


There were a few bloggers who distinguished themselves with careful comments, like the Jawa Report and the Moderate Voice, who looks at the snap judgements that were made by many right-wing bloggers and finds them wanting. There were some pretty sickening things said by people like Debbie Schlussel and (of course) Little Green Footballs, and not one of them has had the balls (Schlussel included) to admit they were wrong.

These are low, low people, and Carrol has more courage than any of them.
posted by dhartung at 4:38 PM on April 2, 2006


And here's an interesting piece on how freelancers are second-class citizens in journalism terms. The local "fixers" and stringers ... well, they're third-class at best.

In the end, of course, the big names will only travel around as embeds -- effectively with a platoon-sized cavalry security contingent. They won't be doing the jobs like Carroll's, visiting Iraqi politicians and finding their own stories.
posted by dhartung at 5:32 PM on April 2, 2006


Jill Carroll is Home
posted by homunculus at 1:32 PM on April 3, 2006


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