Saturday, July 17, 2004

The man behind the curtain peeks out

On Saturday, John Negroponte gave his first press briefing since (pretending to hand) (handing) over power to the Iraqis. He said he remained "hopeful" and "optmistic" that the new Iraq could become successful and prosper.

Negroponte runs one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world, with about 1,000 staffers. The Embassy replaced the Coalition Provisional Authority that ran the country from the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime last year until the transfer of power late last month.

``We are no longer the ultimate political authority in Iraq,'' Negroponte said.

The United States' mission here now is ``to support and assist the government and the people of Iraq as they take full responsibility for the exercise of their sovereignty,'' he said.


``The intent is to empower them entirely in this area so that over time an American military presence will not be necessary,'' he said, declining to say when the 160,000 troops in the U.S.-led coalition might be able to leave.

Who's writing the laws? Who's running the government? Who's controlling the finances and the oil fields? Who's in charge of security and reconstruction? Who's writing the speeches being given by the *new* government?

Who's in charge of Iraq?