COMMENTS: Iraq Friday

All three networks rounded out Iraqi coverage with week-ending features. Frank Lugo was ABC's Person of the Week. Clarissa Ward introduced us to the sergeant in the army reserve who is taking time off from his trading job for a Wall Street hedge fund to advise shopkeepers in Sadr City, disbursing microgrants to revive small businesses. For NBC's In Depth, Patty Culhane told us about Lioness Squads. Iraq's sense of decorum prohibits male soldiers from frisking civilian women at Baghdad checkpoints, so the lionesses are female soldiers who volunteer to help preserve modesty and security simultaneously.

CBS' Follow the Money chose Capitol Hill graft as its angle on Iraq, as Sharyl Attkisson delved into an earmarked contract assigned by Rep Duke Cunningham (R-CA) before he was convicted of bribery and incarcerated. The earmark went to a private intelligence contractor called MZM, whose owner Mitchell Wade was Cunningham's co-defendant. MZM was contracted to expose the supply networks for roadside bombs, so-called improvised explosive devices, that were a primary killer of soldiers in Iraq. Cunningham, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, was able to keep the earmark secret by classifying it. Attkisson introduced us to Major Eric Egland, an intelligence officer who monitored MZM's performance. He found "stunning lapses." Egland called them "unqualified contractors, who failed at even the most basic level to provide the right people, the right resources and the right capability to help our troops."


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