It turns out the two very dangerous doctors with the funny names were about to be released anyway, but since we don't negotiate with hostage takers (except for that Iran/Contra thing and good ol' Moammar)two American's got beheaded and a Brit's life is on the line.
The Iraqi "interim" govt. seems to want to let them go but as a "sovereign" country they need the U.S. army's okay for some reason...
From the NY Times:
Throughout this latest hostage crisis, the American military has said it is holding only two women:
Rihab Rashid Taha, a scientist known as Dr. Germ for her work on an anthrax program, and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a biotech researcher known as Mrs. Anthrax.
A senior military officer said on Wednesday that a review board of the multinational forces had recommended two weeks ago that Ms. Taha be released, along with 13 other prominent security prisoners.
Those cases were then turned over to the Iraqi government, which the board's decision, the officer said. The prisoners are awaiting final word from the office of Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, he added.
Ms. Taha and the other 13 prisoners will probably be released within a couple of weeks, the officer said.
As for Ms. Ammash, the Iraqi government asked before the hostages were taken that she be freed on humanitarian grounds, he said. She will have to go through the entire review process, he said, and the final arbiter in her case will be the Defense Department rather than General Casey's office, because she is among the 55 Iraqis on the Pentagon's "deck of cards" most-wanted list.
American and Iraqi officials did not disclose that
Ms. Taha was close to being released - and that the review process might start soon for Ms. Ammash - until questioned by journalists on Wednesday. This in turn raised the question of why they did not disclose earlier the probable impending release of Mrs. Taha on the chance that such an announcement might prompt Mr. Zarqawi to show mercy to his hostages.