BAGHDAD — One photograph shows a skin-and-bones boy lying on a bare floor, leashed like a dog to the pink bars of an unoccupied crib. Another shows boys curled naked on the ground, one of them smeared with human waste.
The scenes were ghastly. But almost as jarring was the response of an Iraqi government minister called upon Wednesday to explain how a state-run orphanage in the capital could have kept two dozen children in such conditions.
Proving that not even orphans are off-limits to the political sniping that permeates life here, the minister of labor and social welfare accused U.S. troops and the media of exaggerating the situation and distributing the photographs for political gain.
"Are they really concerned about how well the children are treated in that shelter, or is it just propaganda for their alleged kindness?" Mahmoud Mohammed Jawad Radi said to reporters after the U.S. military released the photographs.
Wow, our chosen tokens are really telling us to "step-off" at the lowest possible level aren't they.
"You Americans are just using those drill-holed heads to sell your power-tools!"
But our Iraqi government buddy (who is nowhere near as bad as Saddam all for a cost of tens, if not hundreds of thousands killed and half-a-trillion) wasn't done:
Radi said it was U.S. troops who had brutalized the children by raiding the building in the middle of the night.
"Of course the shelter is not as expected, as it is newly opened and still lacks a lot of services," he said when asked about the lack of fans or air-conditioning where the boys were sleeping. He did not explain why the children were lying on the floor instead of in the cribs with mattresses lining the walls.
Standing beside Radi was the orphanage director, Diyaa Abdul Amir, who denied that the children were mistreated. He said that the photographs released by the military focused on two boys suffering from skin infections but that the rest were healthy.
Radi did add that Michael Moore is fat. So at least "the Corner" got a soundbyte too.
*World's worst doo-wop group