The "wanted poster" has arrived in Iraq, and they are all over
the place. That's mainly because they don't get torn down much, and you won't
get killed for having, or looking at, one. As soldiers, or civilians, who have
returned to Iraq recently have discovered, it's a very different place.
Compared to a year ago, there's a lot less violence (about 90 percent less) and
a lot less fear. That means U.S. and Iraqi security forces have found that they
can use wanted posters on a large scale. Millions have been distributed in the
last few months. They contain a picture of the wanted man, his crimes and, most
importantly, the reward (usually a few thousand dollars) for information
leading to his capture. The widespread use of cell phones makes it easy for
anyone to call the listed phone number (an Iraqi police hot line) to give a tip
that will, hopefully, lead to that reward.
posters have had another important impact. The criminal (terrorists and
gangsters) can no longer move around freely. With all those posters and cell
phones, the bad guy can be spotted, and have the police after him, in minutes.
Walking around with your face covered no longer works either. The police take
that as a "stop and frisk me" message. A year ago, the cop might back
away from a masked man, believing him to be one of many armed terrorists up to
no good. But now the cops have the edge, and use it to go after anyone who is
suspicious, or on a wanted poster.