And we're off...
Now the narrative includes two interesting details: one-Zarqawi wasn't dead, but seriously wounded and ended up dying on a stretcher shortly after being "restrained." This just has "conspiracy" written aaaaall over it. Military spokesman Caldwell is not having a good day as he tries to explain how Zarqawi died. There are rumors the military shot him and now comes an allegation (see prior link) that :
"He was still alive. We put him in the ambulance, but when the Americans arrived they took him out of the ambulance, they beat him on his stomach and wrapped his head with his dishdasha, then they stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose," Mohammed said, without saying how he knew the man was dead.
A dishdasha is a traditional Arab robe.
A similar account in The Washington Post identified him as Ahmed Mohammed.
And then there is the washing of the blood, etc off the body in preparation for the photos, am echo of the treatment of the bodies of Saddam's sons, Qusay and Uday.
All this is turning out to be a PR Problem with a capital P because the Arab street is notoriously suspicious of anything that comes out of any government's mouth, but also because the US military is hovering at sub-zero credibility because of recent events such as Haditha, etc.
AND, the US military is performing the autopsy. I fail to see how this could possibly be confidence-inspiring.
And this little thought has been winging its way around my brain and others: how convenient, how perfect to have dropped two 500 lb bombs on Zarqawi, shaking the village of Zarqa to its foundations and making sure certain people were good and dead. Why not just capture him alive, interrogate him, learn something for Pete's sake from him, and then try him for murder, etc. But noooo, huge crators are much more interesting than real work, and now they not only have a PR problem but a martyr on their hands as well.
Good thing dead men tell no tales, and if you play your cards right, neither will the autopsy.