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In a recent press briefing General George Casey (the commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq) countered virtually every inflated claim made by the media regarding Iraq's recent "civil war" in the wake of the Shrine bombing in Samarra. But there are significant disconnects between what Gen Casey said and how his words are reported.
Q General Casey, David Cloud with the New York Times. You mentioned, I think, a few minutes ago that there were reports of ISF assisting the militias. Can you expand on that a little bit, and how widespread was it? I think you mentioned east Baghdad . Can you just give us a sense of how widespread the problem of sectarian violence within the ISF has been over the last few days?The report on those comments that appeared in the New York Times:
GEN. CASEY: The reports that we have is that they were allowing the Mahdi militia to pass through their checkpoints. And, obviously, this is not something that we are going to condone, nor will the Iraqi security force leadership condone.
But as I said, this is different than August '04 and April '04. The militias didn't take over anything, or if they did, it was quite fleeting. And when the Iraqi security forces showed up, they, by and large, yielded control.
We have a story of a Mahdi militia that went into a Sunni mosque in Baghdad and intended to remain there overnight. And a brigadier general from -- a brigade commander from the Iraqi army went in and talked them out and let them go on their way. Now, that's an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem, but it's Iraqi security forces dealing with the challenges that they're faced with.
Casey said that in some instances, the mostly Shiite security forces gave armed Shiites free rein in Baghdad and Basra, where reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques and clerics took days to contain.And the Washington Post
Moreover, in Baghdad, Iraqi security forces in several instances aided the militias' movements, allowing them to pass unhindered through checkpoints, according to military reports cited by Casey. He said the militias were primarily responsible for attacks on mosques in Baghdad, where militias in neighborhoods such as the predominantly Shiite Sadr City had taken to the streets immediately after the Samarra bombing.Immediately following the attack on the Shrine, the Washington Post reported that 120 Sunni mosques had been attacked in retaliation, other media reports claimed as many as 184. In his press conference, General Casey explained that "it took us a few days to sort our way through what we considered in a lot of cases to be exaggerated reports" and provided updated totals:
We can confirm about 30 attacks on mosques around the country, with less than 10 of those mosques moderately damaged and only two or three of those mosques severely damaged.Here's how the Washington Post reported those comments:
There are other reports -- we have sent forces out to check them -- in one instance in Baghdad , we checked eight reports -- visited eight mosques that were reportedly damaged. We found one broken window in those eight mosques.
He said 350 Iraqi civilians had died in a surge of sectarian killings, militia violence and revenge attacks on about 30 mosques around the country after the bombing. "This, obviously, is unacceptable," he said.The media is free to dispute the General's claims - that's expected of them. But in this case they aren't, they are simply using his words selectively in a manner that supports their own previously published fictions. There's no law that says U.S. media outlets are required to report accurately or completely on comments made by military or government officials. Likewise there are no requirements for media outlets to acknowledge that they are printing unverified claims made by "other parties" in the war as confirmed "news" - as was the case in the aftermath of the Shrine bombing (See here and here). But consumers of those reports should be aware of their flaws. Citing sources or linking to full texts are not difficult tasks, and certainly serve to keep people well informed. After all, a well-informed public is the motivation for all good journalism, right?
Read the whole thing. How easy is that?
The antique media are obviously being fed propaganda and repeating it without adequate factchecking. How can they adequately factcheck supposedly spontaneous simultaneous attacks on the mosques all through Iraq? The communications infrastructure isn't there for that sort of quick accuracy. Everything travels word of mouth there in my experience and the Baathist(most likely) sources the media uses are adept at misinformation, playing on the medias bias against the coalition forces and their BDS symptoms. CNN did it before the war. I fully expect them to be doing it now.Posted by SGT Ted at March 5, 2006 03:34 PM
There is vicious fascism sweeping the planet our Exempt media does not want us to see.
Very disturbing how very little the general public knows. Just the other day I had a conversation with a person who did not have a computer, relied on MSM yet he had no idea what Sharia law, dhimmitude, nor the treatment of gays and women this fascism imposes. Butchery around the world yet he had no clue.Posted by syn at March 5, 2006 06:26 PM
Our local paper ran the Washington Post story. In the first paragraph the general said the crisis had passed and things were returning to normal. But what was the headline? "General Says Civil War Possible". I have to wonder if the editors even read the story. Sure civil war is possible. It was always possible. It's also possible that I'll be hit by a meteorite or that I'll win the lottery. I guess it is too much to ask for them to quantify the possibility, especially that that doesn't fit their preconceived narrative.Posted by Jaime Roberto at March 5, 2006 06:33 PM
I suppose this should not shock me and cause me dismay, but it does. Here are clear examples of major media intentional distortions. The kindest explanation I can conceive is that the current crop of reporters are deluded and so narcissistic that they cannot conceive of that which does not fit their expectations. Amazing.
We are in trouble. The culture is under attack by Fascists of the Left. Not only do they not trust us to make up our own minds and make our own decisions, they are working to keep us from accessing the raw data to do so.
Will they be the first lined up against the wall if things get ugly? I hope nobody goes against the wall, but I am begining to think that things may get just that ugly if everything goes bad.
God help us.
TreyPosted by Trey at March 5, 2006 06:59 PM
At what point, exactly does a consistent pattern of malreporting cross the line into a 'deliberate' disinformation campaign ?
Just asking. And on a related issue, can a society really remain 'free' in an atmosphere of 24-7 'agitprop'? When does enough really become ENOUGH?Posted by dougf at March 5, 2006 07:06 PM
Nice job - demonstrating the importance of reading the transcripts, not what the MSM claims was said.
In your first example, the NYT paragraph rates a "D-". However, the WaPo paragraph you quoted is pretty good, maybe an "A-". Here's a replay of the WaPo:
Moreover, in Baghdad, Iraqi security forces in several instances aided the militias' movements, allowing them to pass unhindered through checkpoints, according to military reports cited by Casey. He said the militias were primarily responsible for attacks on mosques in Baghdad, where militias in neighborhoods such as the predominantly Shiite Sadr City had taken to the streets immediately after the Samarra bombing.
To verify it you need to also consider Casey's comment during his main presentation, as follows:
I also know there's questions on the role of militias within this violence. Now, our estimate is that in the immediate wake of the bombings, in areas like Sadr City, militia did take to the streets. But in the vast majority of the cases, they yielded to Iraqi police and Iraqi security forces without conflict. We do have reports of Iraqi security forces assisting militia movements, particularly in the east Baghdad area, and we also believe that groups of militia were primarily responsible for the attacks against the mosques in the Baghdad area. And we continue to follow up on the information that we have on these with the Iraqi security forces.
Speaking of "Checkpoints" - I'd like to know the manning at those checkpoints compared to the size and firepower of the armed militia forces that were allowed to pass. There is a point where discretion becomes the better part of valor.
I agree that the Post did a better job than the Times - but they still downplayed the fact that their original reporting was overblown. In fact, they are now proposing a conspiracy theory for why the current death toll reports aren't as high as the 1,300 they first claimed.
An international official in Baghdad, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that about 1,000 people had been killed between the day of the bombing and Monday, and said the figure came from morgue officials and others. He said those officials have since acceded to a lower official count because they feared reprisals if they did not.That's from the same WaPo report linked in the entry above.
But as Ralph Peters reports from Baghdad today:
So why were we told that Iraq was irreversibly in the throes of civil war when it wasn't remotely true? I think the answers are straightforward. First, of course, some parties in the West are anxious to believe the worst about Iraq. They've staked their reputations on Iraq's failure.
But there's no way we can let irresponsible journalists off the hook - or their parent organizations. Many journalists are, indeed, brave and conscientious; yet some in Baghdad - working for "prestigious" publications - aren't out on the city streets the way they pretend to be.
They're safe in their enclaves, protected by hired guns, complaining that it's too dangerous out on the streets. They're only in Baghdad for the byline, and they might as well let their Iraqi employees phone it in to the States. Whenever you see a column filed from Baghdad by a semi-celeb journalist with a "contribution" by a local Iraqi, it means this: The Iraqi went out and got the story, while the journalist stayed in his or her room.
And the Iraqi stringers have cracked the code: The Americans don't pay for good news. So they exaggerate the bad.
And some of them have agendas of their own.
A few days ago, a wild claim that the Baghdad morgue held 1,300 bodies was treated as Gospel truth. Yet Iraqis exaggerate madly and often have partisan interests. Did any Western reporter go to that morgue and count the bodies - a rough count would have done it - before telling the world the news?
On the other hand, Jonathan Finer's WaPo reports were reasonable, he was one of the first reporters back on the street a couple days after the original bombing. You'll find his story burried on page 11 of last Tuesday's print version, or here.
That report does cite the 1300 dead claim without sourcing it though - but its well worth a read. I can't say I agree with everything Finer writes, but I admire the comprehensive coverage he provides.Posted by Greyhawk at March 5, 2006 09:26 PM
Oh Wise and Intelligent Grey-Feathered One,
An excellent dissection of the reports. And marvel at how far we have come to these days when a DoD report, outlining the transcript of a press conference has become more accurate, by orders of magnitude, than the so-called reports in our newspapers. Remember how in 1968 thru 1972 the press gained immeasurably in stature by finding unpopular facts which were not identified in the meager Armed Forces reporting of the time?
And they used those stories to build themselves an ivory pedestal, upon which they would stand and preen their beautiful feathers for all to see. All the while, they crowed shrilly and loudly about how much more professional and accurate they were than the reports of a discredited Pentagon, which had lied itself into incredulity with its malicious falsehoods. "Look at me, look at me, I am a much more beautiful bird than the DoD press", they raucously said.
Now many years later, we marvel how the line has come full circle, how the wheel has turned, and how the once beautiful peacocks have become the buzzards feasting on the rotting carcasses of the Truth. It is now a fact beyond reproach that the DoD press releases are more factual, accurate, and provide more bona fide analysis of Truth than ANY MSM news source in our world.
The story which would be fascinating to read or to hear would be the story of how the Department of Defense turned around their reputation, and improved their accuracy and credibility to this point. How was it achieved? And who were the Men and Women responsible for it?
If I look in the dictionary under American Soldier, I believe I would find the answers there. How about you? Soldier Bloggers, anyone?
Press on, Gents. To Unconditional Victory.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at March 6, 2006 01:22 AM
When I was a kid, back in the US of A, there was a Cold War era slogan that went "People who are free to choose will choose to be free."
The idea was that by beaming the truth by radio to the people trapped behind the controlled NEWS environment of the Iron Curtain we could change history.
Apparently we now need somebody to start beaming the truth into America?!Yaakov Kirschen at March 6, 2006 10:13 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(10) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)