Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
June 26, 2003
The sins of Mohammad Saeed Al-SahhafBy Greyhawk
It's one of those stories from overseas, Reuters, a London paper, vague sources quoted...the type of story to make you go hmmmmm...Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf, Comical Ali, Baghdad Bob... captured. This of course, after he's been reported dead of suicide then hiding in his home. The first story, if true, negates the other two. The second begs questions like "why didn't we go arrest him then?" ('We' being the reader and a band of Navy Seals, of course, perhaps with additional gunmen to protect the reader.)
I was never in on the "Baghdad Bob" craze. The military part of my mind expects propaganda from the enemy. Given that some are shooting real bullets at soldiers while this guy was just spewing foolishness at reporters I would consider him far down on the list of things to do. "Capture fugitive Iraqi Information Minister clown" just seems like a lower priority then "restore water and electricity" or "get these weasels to stop shooting us in the back then running away."
In fact I enjoy comic relief, even in the midst of war. The tougher the times, the harder I'll laugh. And I know a stooge when I see one.
Now here's a blast from the past.
From CENTCOM Operation Iraqi Freedom Briefing ~ 11 April 2003 Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, Deputy Director of Operations
GEN. BROOKS:...I would add that information-wise, the coalition governments have identified a list of key regime leaders who must be pursued and brought to justice. The key list has 55 individuals who may be pursued, killed or captured, and the list does not exclude leaders who may have already been killed or captured. This list has been provided to coalition forces on the ground in several forms to ease identification when contact does occur. And this deck of cards is one example of what we provide to soldiers out -- soldiers and marines out in the field -- with the faces of the individuals and what their role is. In this case, there are 55 cards in the deck...Then later, in Q & A:
Q General, Jeff Meade from Sky News. You've changed regime for anarchy, it seems, in many places. And some Iraqis seem to take the view that the coalition forces are too passive in this, in controlling what's going on, because they may be liberated but they don't feel particularly safe. I wonder if you're going to use any of these prisoners -- you talked about the Five Corps surrender, or maybe get the police back on the street, some of these people who are used to following orders may now follow your orders. Do you have any plans for that?
Now you may claim the reporter was joking, but then I'll point to his first question and say "No, he's just an idiot." A stooge, in fact.
And he wanted that card to be there. Every reporter in that room wanted that card to be there.
Because Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf had committed the most heinous crimes against humanity possible; in time of war or not. He had lied to the press! And they believed him! He bamboozled them. And as I said, that was his job, and he did it well. To see him denying the tanks behind him will always stand in the history of corporate loyalty as the most dedicated act of total commitment to an employer that any one will likely ever perform. Expect all the really savvy management seminars to include it soon.
Laughable? Yes, the Information Minister is. He's Gimli the Dwarf in the movie version of Lord of the Rings - the comic relief amidst carnage.
The response to him by the media was not funny. It was the job of the reporters to asses his validity, and they failed utterly. He exposed them for the bumbling incompetent anti-American droolers they are. They believed him because they wanted to believe him. They wanted to believe it was CENTCOM that was lying about the amazing advance of the American
Saddam's crimes pale in comparison to the brutal lies that Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf sowed among our poor naive journalists, so eager to be on the front lines of the next Vietnam. Add the fact that it wasn't a quagmire, that it wouldn't result in the impeachment of the President, that the good guys would win, to the fact that they were lied to and you can probably imagine the sense of despair that must have overwhelmed the Baghdad Press corps when the first of the statues fell. A tribute to their professionalism that they persevered and reported even when confronted with the ultimate reality of such a stunning setback to their cause.
And what then of Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf? His instant superstar status on the internet and late-night talk shows (now fully recognizing the clown for what he was) probably forced suppression of most of the rage that so many in the mainstream press felt for the man. That plus mis-reporting about museum looting took their little minds off the topic of forming a lynch mob and tracking him down.
And now he has turned up on Arab TV claiming to be alive. (Note to media: you can believe him this time. He is alive.) Claiming to have been questioned and released by the Americans. And looking like the supply of Clairol in Baghdad has dwindled to nil. (Note to searchers for Saddam.)
A sad pathetic man, separated by weeks of hard living (ironically while becoming a superstar via ridicule in the west) from the jut-jawed darling of the left-wing press that ranted live via satellite in our living rooms every day.
Questioned and released.
Oh how that must burn within the stomachs of his betrayed but once adoring fans.
Posted by Greyhawk / June 26, 2003 9:15 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com