Prev | List | Random | Next
(Update/bump from 2006-04-01 17:13:53)
NY Times headline, March 27: 30 Beheaded Bodies Found; Iraqi Death Squads Blamed
BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 26 — The bodies of 30 beheaded men were found on a main highway near Baquba this evening, providing more evidence that the death squads in Iraq are becoming out of control.But Blazing headlines notwithstanding, the odd thing about those headless bodies that provided more evidence that death squads in Iraq were out of control is that nobody ever claims to have actually seen them:
Interior Ministry officials said a driver discovered the bodies heaped in a pile next to a highway that links Baghdad to Baquba, a volatile city northeast of the capital that has been wracked by sectarian and insurgent violence.In short, some guy said he knew a guy that saw them. Which is how the story should have been reported - as a rumor. But it wasn't.
Iraqi army troops were waiting tonight for American support before venturing into the insurgent-infested area to retrieve them.
"It's too dangerous for us to go in there alone," an Iraqi Army commander, Tassin Tawfik, said.
Yesterday's press briefing from Iraq:
Q: About, on the news that we heard this week of a number of headless bodies being found along a road in Baghdad. I was wondering what more you could tell us about that, what you know about the victims, and who the perpetrators were?But apparently within the standards of acceptable journalism for the New York Times.
GEN. THURMAN: Okay. I did understand that question, and what I would tell you -- we have not confirmed that report. We went to multiple sites to look for the 32 headless bodies that was reported to our headquarters, and we did not find anything; nor did any of the local citizens that were in these areas could verify that anybody had ever been in there. So I look at that report as completely false right now.
Update: Times readers eager to find a correction will discover it featured prominently in paragraph 17 of this story
The police in western Baghdad discovered 14 bodies on Tuesday, all killed execution-style with gunshots to the head, apparently the latest victims of sectarian bloodletting. On Monday, Iraqi forces found 18 bodies near Baquba with similar wounds. Earlier reports of 30 beheaded bodies found in that area were wrong, the Interior Ministry official said.Update 3 Apr:
U.S., Iraqi Troops Nab Insurgents Suspected In Mass SlayingThat's from Stars and Stripes. No doubt the NY Times has the story too.
More than a dozen rebels either caught or killed in Baqouba
BAQOUBA, Iraq — More than a dozen insurgents suspected in the mass killing of 18 Shiites last week were arrested or killed Friday after U.S. and Iraqi army soldiers spent several hours chasing them through the rural farmland north of Baghdad.
The insurgents were spotted Friday in the flat and lawless area known to U.S. soldiers as “Road Warrior land,” which runs along a historic dividing line between the mostly Shiite areas of northwestern Baghdad and the Sunni villages of Diyala province.
Iraqi soldiers began chasing the team of insurgents after finding them loaded into seven cars roaming a main road and trying to hijack a cement truck early Friday afternoon.
More: This report also confirms an earlier one on the topic:
BAQOUBA, Iraq — A mass execution in a rural village north of Baghdad on Sunday night was the latest example of insurgents staging fake sectarian killings in order to fuel tensions between the Sunnis and Shiites, U.S. soldiers investigating the incident said.That's also from Stars and Stripes. There are thousands of actual and compelling stories to be found in Iraq, and the mainstream media misses them all in favor or urban legends.
An estimated 18 bodies were carted away from a small strip of stores that was strewn with bullets and covered with blood.
The killings occurred in a predominantly Sunni area about 40 miles north of Baghdad where several insurgent groups operate, U.S. soldiers said.
Local villagers told U.S. troops Sunday night that the killers wore Iraqi Army uniforms and claimed to be part of the Mahdi militia, a Shiite group loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
But Mahdi militia activity in this mostly Sunni area is almost unheard of and U.S. troops here speculate that the attackers were actually a team of Sunni insurgents trying to heighten the sectarian tensions that many believe have sparked hundreds of killings in recent weeks.
“We think that an AIF (Anti-Iraqi Forces) cell working to create the perception of more sectarian violence moved to a predominantly Sunni area and executed people and said they were the Mahdi Army in order to foment more sectarian unrest,” said Maj. John Digiambattista, the operations officer for the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.
These real stories have plenty of blood, death, human misery and suffering too, so "if it doesn't bleed it doesn't lead" can't be the reason.
(More in comments. Don't skip 'em!)
If the military is paying Iraqi newspapers to print the truth, why shouldn't the New York Times reciprocate by printing lies for free?
Next week's NY Times stories from Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 5 — Iraqi heroin addicts are hiding their needles in theater seats, providing more evidence that the death squads in Iraq are becoming out of control.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 6 — Iraqi militia members are driving through Baghdad with their headights out and beheading anyone who flashes their lights at them, providing more evidence that the death squads in Iraq are becoming out of control.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 7 — This guy I know in tech services says there's a new computer virus that originated in Iraq providing more evidence that the death squads in Iraq are becoming out of control.
Oh, ok, it is 32 bodies shot in the head, not 30 bodies beheaded. Whew! Thank god. I thought the conclusion that the Country is out of control was exagerrated. I am so glad to hear that it is shootings and not beheadings. Are you an idiot? What F*ing difference does it make? The Country is out of control.
Also, What happened to the "Crack" Iraqi Army that you and the other pentagon propagandists keep talking about? They are "afraid" to go retrieve the bodies?
You are more like Clinton than any democrat. Rather than looking at the point, you would rather argue about what the definition of "is" is.Posted by Kevin at April 2, 2006 03:10 AM
This story is another example of American media printing rumors - or claims made by the enemy - as verified fact. It fits in with claims of 184 Sunni mosques attacked in the wake of the Samarra bombing and the attack on a Shiite "mosque" by US troops this week. The NY Times did not even bother to qualify this report as unproven.
The "Interior Ministry source" (Janitor? Minister?) has become a key element of such reports. As with such "whistle blowers" in the US government, the individual remains nameless - in this case no reason is offered. ("Fear of retribution" is the usual explanation. No doubt in this case that's justified.) There's a real story somewhere in the Interior Ministry that won't be told in American media. In another era exposing an enemy (or incompetence) in a government office would be a blockbuster, but doing so today would cost a "source" for their most profitable headlines. Too bad.
People are dying in Iraq. The situation is chaotic, and that's why accurate reporting is essential, and would be nice to have. Without it, at least using the phrase "unconfirmed reports from unreliable sources" somewhere in the coverage where such reports are prominently featured would be fair - but also an admission of the absurdity of the reporting. How to deal with that issue is the decision of the editorial/management staff. The NY Times has apparently established their policy: Admit today's banner headline was wrong in paragraph 17 of tomorrow's report.
As for that "they were shot in the head, not beheaded" bit, you're referring to 3 separate incidents, one we now know to be false. People are being killed, reports are exaggerated; pretending otherwise doesn't contribute much to efforts to discover what's really happening.
"Also, What happened to the "Crack" Iraqi Army that you and the other pentagon propagandists keep talking about? They are "afraid" to go retrieve the bodies?"
I don't know. Is this an actual quote? Real events spliced onto urban legends give them a bit of credibility, so let's assume it is.
How many troops did this Iraqi Army commander have at his disposal? Two? A handful at a checkpoint? A squad? A Brigade? He's got a report of 30 headless bodies on a road, perhaps just given to him by a reporter (or a "stringer"). If true, that means there's an enemy somewhere nearby capable of accomplishing that. Corpses along the road are common bait for attacks on those retrieving them. (Getting that story would be a coup for the "stringer".)
So the commander decides to wait for backup. This is standard SOP in Armies and Police forces around the world. The Times chooses to present it as cowardice or incompetence; a charge people like you are eager to believe.
The Times' report is an urban legend presented as news, pure and simple, and not the first example of such. Baghdad may or may not be "out of control", but the reporting demonstrably is. If you want a dose of reality, try these numbers.Posted by Greyhawk at April 2, 2006 10:52 AM
The idea that the reports will be 100% accurate is ludicrous. The fact that our Government puts many things in "confidential" status, the fact that our Government is involved in a massive propoganda movement, the fact that our Government has selected certain news outlets to be their mouth piece (fox) and the fact that our Government has PAID for stories in the US Press, means we must have an aggressive and antagonistic press.
Given that the Government holds "all the cards", the newspapers have to use the process of "triangulation" to get the story. That means the detailed facts may not be perfect but the theme will be accurate... kind of like indirect fire, you launch a few, get some response, triangulate in and eventually the truth is out.
So, sometimes you say behead in one instance and it turns out to be shot in the head in three but the theme is the same: The Country is out of control and the US Military nor Iraqi military appear to be able to do a damn thing about it.
You say a Kuran was flushed down a toilet and it ends up it was pissed on. The theme is the same: We show an amazingly juvenile lack of respect for their religion.
Bottom line: Unless the Government gives out all facts as is, we will have to rely on this effort by the press. Quite frankly, given that they are up against a 1/2 trillion monster propoganda machine (The US Government) I would say they do a fantastic job.Posted by Kevin at April 2, 2006 01:16 PM
Short version of your comment: the reports are "fake but accurate." I didn't realize anyone still considered that a credible defense.
I've checked Factiva, and to be fair to the Times, it looks like the 30 Beheaded story only ran on the Web. Of course it should be corrected there. The print version of the times only alluded to the story this way, in story entitled SHIITE FIGHTERS CLASH WITH G.I.'S AND IRAQI FORCES: "On Sunday, Iraqi authorities found 10 bodies in Baghdad and said they were investigating a report that 30 men were beheaded near Baquba."
Odd that it's by the same reporter and yet so much more careful. Seems like they throw any old crap up on the Web and then just forget about it. Also suggests editors for the print version might be keeping this writer, Gettleman, in check, whereas editors for the Web are more lenient.Posted by clayny at April 3, 2006 05:21 PM
But, according to Democracy Now leader Amy Goodman, the all our press except NPR/PBS is controlled by Corporate Nazi Government Republican Oppressors.
So Kevin, if she's right how can the press be a reliable source of information?
By the way that's some monster propaganda machine selecting certain outlets(fox) as their mouthpiece against the suppressed CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Al jazzera, TY TImes, Washington Post, LA Times, Seattle Post, Boston Globe and C-span. Plus Susan Sarandon, George CLooney, Barbra Streisand, Charlie Sheen and all the other blowhards wailing away at the truth!
Posted by syn at April 3, 2006 09:47 PM
Have no fear, an Army of Davids can beat monster propaganda machine anyday. Even a 1/2 trillon one.
As is his wont, Kevin misses the point of Greyhawk's post.
The many miscellaneous inaccuracies themselves suggest the reporters and editors at the Times are far less interested in reporting than they are in finding supporting evidence for what they want to portray.
That is the point, that they bend news or pick and choose data points to fit the what I've previously described as "the template."
The country is in chaos, sectarian violence is on the rise, Civil War is either imminent or upon them.
Only, as Greyhawk points out, reporting from the military and Iraqi government officials involve strongly suggest that the violence described was by insurgents "protraying" sectarian vioence. (In other words, Sunni on Sunni to look like Shia on Sunni.)
Kevin can argue that "dead is dead" all he wants, the reality is the NY Times used that violence to support a report that spoke of heightened "sectarian violence."
And of course that is the point. The NY Times reporters and editors involved have sought to portray reality in Iraq in a certain way, then slant their reporting, fact selection, storyboards, etc., to support that "template."
And when the underlying facts are wrong, since news stories aren't supposed to be subjective or include editorializing, they correct the underlying fact but can't correct the subjective tone and thematic "understory."
And reliable "useful idiots" can criticize the criticizing of the NY Times as harping on trivialities.Posted by dadmanly at April 3, 2006 09:51 PM
Oh Wise and Patient GreyOne,
Subsunk: Why do you show such patience with the young ones, great Grey Father?
GreyHawk: Even the young ones need to be allowed to grow up so that one day they may have their eyes opened and finally see how to contribute well to the land of our Forefathers.
Subsunk: Nah, just smash 'em with with the tomahawk and go make new ones, boss. The young ones named Kevin and IRR are lost causes.
Greyhawk: Nay, nay Moosebreath Subsunk. The Great GreyFather never smashes troll children. He lets their parents do so. Let them rattle on. It will do them good when their whining is visited upon them in their older age and they can be shown to be the misguided children that they are. When their peers laugh at them because they were wrong, and their elders judge them for their impertinence towards the wiser old ones, they may grow to see the error of their ways.
Subsunk: OK, GreyFather. But I still think it would be more fun to smash 'em like a grape.
[Conversation taped in GreyHawk's wickiup by NSA peace pipe surveillance methods found to be legal by the Evil Spirits of the Land]
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at April 3, 2006 09:56 PM
This is the gist of Kevin's position:
Comes from the MSM: Absolute truth (I mean, why would they lie...?)
Comes from the Government: Absolute proganda (I mean, why would they tell the truth...?)Posted by armynurseboy at April 3, 2006 10:30 PM
OK, The NYT reported an unsubstantiated rumor. I agree, this is bad reporting, and evidence of bias. And the alternative is... Stars and Stripes, reporting an unsubstantiated rumor. Just as "some guy said he knew a guy that saw them" is not beleivable, "some soldier thinks they're playing tricks on us" isn't any better.
(Plus, c'mon! It's Stars and Stripes! This is our alternative? A government-run newspaper for soldiers? Gimme a break.)Posted by Graham at April 4, 2006 01:59 AM
I believe US command's reports from Iraq just as much as I believed their body counts from Vietnam.
I'm with Kevin, where is the mighty Iraqi army? But I'm still wondering where the freedom-loving Vietnamese army was, too. Not in the field shooting it out with the bad guys.
One thing I know, and know for sure, and don't have to rely on either the Army or the Times to know: US commanders are afraid to come out of their strategic hamlet in Baghdad and travel on the ground 10 miles to their own airport.
Until the generals can do that, they're on the defensive. And they're losing.
And, yes, I was indoctrinated in the 1960s. I learned that the Army's mission is not to control territory but to impose its will on the enemy.
The Army was wrong then, and it's wrong now.
It isn't winning in Iraq and it doesn't have anotber strategy that might work.Posted by Harry Eagar at April 4, 2006 02:32 AM
So the NY Times will print any rumor that it thinks supports the "the war is going poorly" view yet demands absolute proof for anything that would, say, indicate that Saddam and al Qaeda were working together. See, for example, how the NY Times refuses to give any credit to the recently released documents captured in Iraq that show al Qaeda and Saddam were planning together because, according to the times, the source named in the document was not official enough...
Curious.Posted by zhid at April 4, 2006 02:51 AM
"I believe US command's reports from Iraq just as much as I believed their body counts from Vietnam."
You mean, that they were understated(enemy body counts) by a factor of 3, while most folks believed they were overstated by a factor of 3?
But then, something that is off by a factor of 10 is a good reason to disbelieve it.
Yep, MACV was lyin, they only reported what they could confirm, which was way, way off.Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 4, 2006 03:02 AM
Graham, your comparison between the Times story and the Stars and STripes stories is so unfair that I wonder if you even looked at the latter. Do it. See how careful the Stars and Stripes reporter was to distinguish between what was known and what was not known? Any speculation is marked as such and properly attributed. That's honest reporting. The premises need never be corrected. Whereas the Times article assumes as its premise and highlights in its headline an unverified rumor that we now know was a falsehood--broadcasting which seems to have been the story's only purpose. That's simply pathetic, biased pseudo-journalism, Times or not. You have no right to put down the Stars and STripes reporter, who's demonstrated right on the page that he's a professional.Posted by ClayNY at April 4, 2006 03:13 AM
It does make a person wonder when the villagers report that the men in uniform *said* what group they were from.Posted by Julie (Synova) at April 4, 2006 04:15 AM
Someone can feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe the Iraqi army is currently securing route irish... that's the very road from the "strategic hamlet in Baghdad" to the airport. Attacks have dropped markedly; they've apparently been quite successful, and it's been widely reported.
I think that's the "mighty Iraqi army" you were looking for.
I'm just trying to be helpful...but that's the kind of guy I am. No need to thank me. Carry on.Posted by TheNewGuy at April 4, 2006 04:57 AM
Another difference between the NYTimes article and the one from Stars and Stripes: the reporter in the US relays a rumor he's heard and the soldier in Iraq speculates on what he has actually observed.
Big difference IMHO.Posted by inmypajamas at April 4, 2006 05:36 AM
They are, huh?
Are you telling me the generals are driving to the airport now?
'Cause if you're not, you're not being helpful.Posted by Harry Eagar at April 4, 2006 08:09 AM
"I'm with Kevin, where is the mighty Iraqi army? But I'm still wondering where the freedom-loving Vietnamese army was, too. Not in the field shooting it out with the bad guys.
One thing I know, and know for sure, and don't have to rely on either the Army or the Times to know: US commanders are afraid to come out of their strategic hamlet in Baghdad and travel on the ground 10 miles to their own airport."
-- Posted by Harry Eagar at April 4, 2006 02:32 AM
But the Stars and Stripes story above says: "More than a dozen insurgents suspected in the mass killing of 18 Shiites last week were arrested or killed Friday after U.S. and Iraqi army soldiers spent several hours chasing them through the rural farmland north of Baghdad."
So one of you is wrong. If it's the Stripes reporter, then he's not simply wrong, he's lying.
Sort of what 60 Minutes recently did when they aired a piece claiming the Airport road was still under the control of insurgents and terrorists last fall. The reality was that it had indeed been secured by the Iraqi army - and USA Today and the Washington Post had reported that. (Details here)
Here are some stories from today's S&S:
Propaganda?Posted by Greyhawk at April 4, 2006 08:42 AM
Think about how desperate the "insurgents" must be to kill their own to recruit them for the cause.
How utterly depraved.Posted by M. Simon at April 4, 2006 09:58 AM
PROPAGANDA, bull crap. This is getting to be unreal, we don't have enemies just in Iraq, we have them here and if we don't wake up they are gonna get a lot of us killed......Just because they do not like our President!!! Well tough, the guy is in for 2 more years so deal with it. I dealt with it for 8 years under their President. There are people here who I think want us to have another attack, just to say I told you so, and that is pathetic on their part. Seems politics and power and of course money is what it seems to be all about. Our troops are doing just fine so will they please leave them alone and let them do their jobs.Posted by Kay at April 4, 2006 01:12 PM
Attacks have dropped significantly... but until the generals are hitching rides to the airport on deuce-and-a-halfs and civilian farm trucks, route Irish is still a disaster? What sort of moving-the-goalposts standard is that?
The example you cited to support your Iraqi-army-is-worthless thesis was ill-chosen, as it shows exactly the opposite. Your dissembling and hair-splitting about your original point ("I meant the generals! The Generals!!) isn't really convincing me.
While the the Iraqi army certainly has its problems, I'd simply have picked a different example to illustrate them, that's all.
The Mad Magazine parody of New York Times stories used to begin with the formula "It has been reported by hitherto reliable but as yet unconfirmed sources..." I don't think the Times ever actually used this formula, but it captured their extreme caution in those days about trusting sources. The contrast is astonishing.Posted by Peter Shalen at April 4, 2006 02:04 PM
My first statement: 'US commanders are afraid to come out of their strategic hamlet in Baghdad and travel on the ground 10 miles to their own airport.'
My second statement: 'Are you telling me the generals are driving to the airport now?'
How is that 'moving the goalposts'?
That's my position. You don't have to like it, or agree that it's the right measure of progress, but I notice you cannot refute it either.
Maybe you could get a job at the New York Times.
Posted by Harry Eagar at April 4, 2006 07:22 PM
If you were attempting to make a point about the travel plans of various general officers, then I'd simply let it stand. Alas, your point was much broader, and involved the entire Iraqi army:
where is the mighty Iraqi army? But I'm still wondering where the freedom-loving Vietnamese army was, too. Not in the field shooting it out with the bad guys.
One thing I know, and know for sure, and don't have to rely on either the Army or the Times to know: US commanders are afraid to come out of their strategic hamlet in Baghdad and travel on the ground 10 miles to their own airport.
Until the generals can do that, they're on the defensive. And they're losing
It seems to me you were using route irish in the context of your larger point... but perhaps my reading comprehension is lacking.
As far as refuting your point... why? The burden of proof is yours; at a minimum, I should challenge you to provide some evidence for such an assertion. How can we accept it as a given that absolutely no generals have traveled to/from the airport by ground? You may be in a position to know, and if so, great; I won't press you to prove it. There's no sense in blowing your security clearance to make a cheap point on a public weblog.
Again, your caution about the Iraqi army may be well-founded, but your example is not illustrative of the point.Posted by TheNewGuy at April 4, 2006 08:43 PM
the original story says, "Interior Ministry officials said." Why blame the media when it reports what the democratically elected government told it?Posted by josh at April 5, 2006 12:30 AM
No sense beating this to death, but you must indeed be a 'new guy.'
I chose my example carefully. The idea that a successful army does not have to control territory is one that our army ought to have unlearned in Vietnam.
If the general doesn't feel safe going to his own airport next door, then I feel confident in saying that the US Army is not really in control anywhere that isn't actively patrolled.
Been there, done that, why are we doing it again?Posted by Harry Eagar at April 5, 2006 12:44 AM
Earlier reports of 30 beheaded bodies found in that area were wrong, the Interior Ministry official said.
Is this the same Interior Ministry official who earlier reported the 30 beheaded bodies? Yeah, let's believe him now, but not before. And of course, the American Military would never lie about such things!
You brownshirts are really fucking clueless.Posted by dave at April 5, 2006 05:31 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(32) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)