This is pure one-source, unsubstantiated gossip of the sort I usually don't pass along, but it's so specific maybe there is something to it. The Times, like other papers, has been having difficulty finding staffers who want to go to Iraq at this stage of the story. The gossip is that the LAT offered the Baghdad bureau chief job to Ellen Knickmeyer, the Dakar-based West Africa bureau chief for Associated Press. She reportedly accepted on a Friday, got a similar offer from the Washingon Post over the weekend, and on Monday told the Times no thanks. The Post announced her hiring as its Baghad bureau chief last Thursday; scroll down at Romenesko Memos for the announcement. Somebody will let me know if this account is inaccurate.
While we're gossiping: The LAT Magazine is apparently close to naming a style editor to replace Heather John. She only left for Bon Appétit last spring. Finalists are said to include Kent Black, formerly of Maxim, Details and the New York Times Magazine, and a senior editor at an L.A.-based publication who I'd rather not name (because his or her boss may not know and, again, this is Internet gossip so the info might well be inaccurate.)
Edited to fix Knickmeyer's name