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Nobles: The Iraqi citizens who have risen in anger and action against Muqtada al-Sadr.A
While Mr. al-Sadr's attempted takeover was initially met with silence from many Iraqis, some have since spoken with arms. Scores of young men, members of a group known as Thul Fiqar al Battar, have taken direct action to rid their country of the renegade cleric. Since mid-April, members of this homegrown group in Najaf have attacked members of the Mahdi militia each night, targeting a few gunmen at a time, stalking them and then pouncing.
The Iraqis acknowledge that they have not had much of a military effect, estimating to have killed about six members of the Mahdi militia and scared off about a score. But the war in Iraq is about more than body counts; it is also about hearts and minds. The actions of the Thul Fiqar al Battar have spoken for the many silent Iraqis who are Angry about the attempted hijacking of their new freedoms.
Moderate Shi'ites have also begun to speak up. Earlier this week, 100 Shi'ite leaders demanded that Mr. al-Sadr and his militia leave the shrines in Najaf and Kufa where they have taken shelter and stockpiled arms. Those actions encouraged coalition soldiers that aggressive patrols in Najaf would not cause a public backlash. Their successful raids in that city are a sign of that progress.
Many members of Thul Fiqar al Battar have paid for their courage in blood. It's a sacrifice they are willing to pay. As Haidar, a fighter who did not want his last name to be used, told Knight Ridder Newspapers, "The Americans made us happy when they got rid of Saddam Hussein. We're happy to return the favor by getting rid of the Mahdi army."
For actions more eloquent than words, the Iraqis of the Thul Fiqar al Battar are the Nobles of the week.
[b]Knaves: Rep. Charles Rangel, for pushing a partisan impeachment.[/b]
The sharp-dressed liberal from New York has made many shabby remarks about the war. In July, he said Saddam Hussein's sons were "assassinated" after they were killed in a ferocious firefight. In November, he called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign.
This week, Mr. Rangel went on a vigilante's jeremiad. Simultaneously judge, jury and executioner, Mr. Rangel found Mr. Rumsfeld guilty of a "high crime and misdemeanor" of withholding "from the president, Congress and the American people information on the abuses at the Iraqi prison," and demanded his impeachment.
Instead of spewing such shoddy rhetoric, Mr. Rangel should draw a breath and allow the investigative process to take its course. The investigations into the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison are a solemn, sorrowful process. Shame and pain are a critical part of that accounting. Partisan headhunting of the sort pushed by Mr. Rangel is not.
For extraordinary partisanship in a time of national crisis, Mr. Rangel is the Knave of the week.