Forget the 15 Brits. Open Season on U.S Dips.

Now let’s see if we’ve got this right:

As negotiations over the 15 captured Brits were going on an Iranian diplomat, who had been kidnapped in Iraq a couple of months ago, was suddenly freed and returned to his embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

That diplomat, Jalal Sharafi, the second secretary at Iran’s mission in Baghdad, is still not sure who kidnapped him. He was snatched off the street on February 4th, in broad day light in a predominately Shiite, middle class neighborhood of Baghdad.

The police managed to capture one of the cars involved. The four uniformed men inside claimed they worked for one of Iraq’s many security forces. According to Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari that particular force–and all the other ones contacted–denied the men worked for them. So, of course, did the U.S, military and intelligence agencies.

Although the release of the detainee seemed to coincide with a thaw in negotiations with Iran, Iraq’s Foreign Minister claimed there was no link at all: “Really, it has no connection whatsoever.”

(Question: If Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari doesn’t know who held the kidnapped diplomat, how does he know Shafari’s release had nothing to do with the fate of the 15 Brits? Can’t have it both ways.)

Though Iraqi authorities continue to hold the four kidnappers arrested, they still claim they don’t know for sure who seized the diplomat.

But it’s not necessary to dispatch the four to Egypt or a secret American prison for water boarding. According to the Times, “others familiar with the case said they believed that those responsible worked for the Iraqi Intelligence Service, which is affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency.”

(For anyone betting it was not the CIA behind the operation, I’ve got a bridge over the Euphrates near Baghdad I’d like to sell you.)

You would think the first to rise up in outrage over the affair would be the thousands of American diplomats scattered around the globe. It’s their vulnerable necks which have been put on the block by Dubya. But, compared with torture, secret renditions, targeted assassinations and the like, snatching a foreign diplomat is small change. Anyway, if the Iranians could take American diplomats hostage in 1979, why can’t Americans do the same thing to Iranians today?

In fact, according to the de facto rules of the game being played by the Bush administration, it’s open season on just about any American official overseas these days.

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