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President Bush caught in shoe attack in Iraq

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Uploaded on Dec 14, 2008

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BAGHDAD — President Bush made a valedictory visit on Sunday to Iraq, the country that will largely define his legacy, but the trip will more likely be remembered for the unscripted moment when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at Mr. Bushs head and denounced him on live television as a dog who had delivered death and sorrow here from nearly six years of war.

The drama unfolded shortly after Mr. Bush appeared at a news conference in Baghdad with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to highlight the newly adopted security agreement between the United States and Iraq. The agreement includes a commitment to withdraw all American forces by the end of 2011.

The Iraqi journalist, Muntader al-Zaidi, 28, a correspondent for Al Baghdadia, an independent Iraqi television station, stood up about 12 feet from Mr. Bush and shouted in Arabic: This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog! He then threw a shoe at Mr. Bush, who ducked and narrowly avoided it.

As stunned security agents and guards, officials and journalists watched, Mr. Zaidi then threw his other shoe, shouting in Arabic, This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq! That shoe also narrowly missed Mr. Bush as Prime Minister Maliki stuck a hand in front of the presidents face to help shield him.

Mr. Malikis security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him until he was crying like a woman, said Mohammed Taher, a reporter for Afaq, a television station owned by the Dawa Party, which is led by Mr. Maliki. Mr. Zaidi was then detained on unspecified charges.

Other Iraqi journalists in the front row apologized to Mr. Bush, who was uninjured and tried to brush off the incident by making a joke. All I can report is it is a size 10, he said, continuing to take questions and noting the apologies. He also called the incident a sign of democracy, saying, Thats what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves, as the mans screaming could be heard outside.

But the moment clearly unnerved Mr. Malikis aides and some of the Americans in Mr. Bushs entourage, partly because it was televised and may have revealed a security lapse in the so-called Green Zone, the most heavily secured part of Baghdad.

In the chaos, Dana M. Perino, the White House press secretary, who was visibly distraught, was struck in the eye by a microphone stand.

Mr. Bush visited Iraq as part of an unannounced trip that later took him to Afghanistan, where he was meeting on Monday with American troops and President Hamid Karzai.

The shoe-throwing incident in Baghdad punctuated Mr. Bushs visit here — his fourth — in a deeply symbolic way, reflecting the conflicted views in Iraq of a man who toppled Saddam Hussein, ordered the occupation of the country and brought it freedoms unthinkable under Mr. Husseins rule but at enormous costs.

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