By Dan Froomkin
12:35 PM ET, 02/19/2009
Liz Sly writes for the Chicago Tribune: "The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush made an impassioned courtroom appeal for clemency on the first day of his trial today, saying he became enraged when he saw Bush smiling and joking with Iraq's prime minister.
"Muntadher al-Zaidi, 30, was hailed as a hero throughout the Arab world for his shoe-throwing protest last Dec. 14, during Bush's visit to Baghdad....
"'While he was talking I was looking at all his achievements in my mind. More than a million killed, the destruction and humiliation of mosques, violations against Iraqi women, attacking Iraqis every day and every hour,' he said.
"'A whole people are saddened because of his policy, and he was talking with a smile on his faceand [sic] he was joking with the prime minister and saying he was going to have dinner with him after the press conference.
"'Believe me, I didn't see anything around me except Bush,' Zaidi continued. 'I was blind to anything else. I felt the blood of the innocent people bleeding from beneath his feet and he was smiling in that way. And then he was going to have a dinner, after he destroyed one million martyrs, after he destroyed the country.
"'So I reacted to this feeling by throwing my shoes. I couldn't stop the reaction inside me. It was spontaneous.'"