Iraqis to Release Female Prisoner Hoping to Save British Hostage

Against the wishes of the Bush Administration which has refused to negotiate with terrorists, the Iraqi Justice Minister announced that one of the two women being held in Iraqi prisons will be released in accordance with the militants demands. She is Rihab Taha, also known as "Dr. Germ" because she headed up Iraq's biological weapons program in the 1980's.

The second woman, Huda Ammash, was also a scientist involved in Iraq's weapons program. She has been referred to as "Mrs. Anthrax" and "Chemical Sally." She has been suffering from breast cancer while incarcerated. She will be given a hearing, and then she will probably be released. The Justice Minister said both have been cooperative. He stresses the releases have nothing to do with the kidnappings. Is anyone going to buy that?

Malik Dohan al-Hassan, the justice minister, told the Guardian that his government would later today release Rihab Taha, a biological weapons scientist. A hearing would be held to determine whether to release the second woman, Huda Amash, another weapons scientist, dubbed Chemical Sally.

"It has nothing to do with the kidnapping," he said. "They have all been cooperative and we have decided to release them on bail. In the Huda Amash case the Americans insist she should stay in detention and we said she should be released." A hearing would consider the case today, he said. "We couldn't find any wrongdoing they have committed."

If both women are released and Mr. Bigly's life is spared, does this mean that had the Minister acted 48 hours earlier, Mr. Armstrong and Hensley might also have been spared?

Update: Reuters reports the U.S. insists the women will not be freed.[link via Atrios.]

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