RUMORS AND REPORTS OF RUMORS….The LA Times has an interesting take on the story from last week about Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi shooting some prisoners in a Baghdad jail. Apparently it’s only one of several similar stories circulating among Iraqis about their new leader:

In one, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is driving through downtown Baghdad and sees a frail old man being confronted by three armed men attempting to steal his vehicle. The prime minister leaps out of his car and shoots dead the would-be carjackers.

In another, Allawi is in a Baghdad jail where he interviews suspects, hears their confessions, declares that “they deserve to die” and shoots them on the spot.

A third version sets the scene of his armed retribution in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf, which has been racked by violence in recent months.

The “Baghdad jail” version of the story was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday, but the Times says that versions of it were circulating in the streets of Baghdad “well before” the story appeared. However, in interviews “in Baghdad tea shops and Internet cafes and on street corners” the most common view was this was just a “rumor that people want to believe.”

So I guess we should take this with a large grain of salt. Still, the SMH article named names and dates, so it really shouldn’t be that hard to investigate. Were the three named prisoners ever in custody? And where are they now? Surely it shouldn’t be too hard for the Interior Ministry to track this down?