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Much more here, including some solid (and some not so solid) ideas on how to make sure reports from Iraq are put into their proper context.• .05% of soldiers in Iraq were accused of any misconduct toward Iraqis in the past year.This kind of context could have been given to the article’s author before the story ran or to others after the fact. While even one case of misconduct is a tragedy, the above context puts a new complexion on the problem. The military no longer is a bunch of barbarians pillaging the Iraqi countryside. It is now clear that while there has been some abuse, the vast majority of our men and women in Iraq are doing a great job under very dangerous conditions.
• 15% of New York’s Police Department is accused of some misconduct during the year.
• .003% of military patrols have resulted in investigation.
• .16% of NYPD patrols result in investigation.
• Remove the incidents committed by one terribly led unit of prison guards (800th Military Police), and the military’s performance improves by more than 100%.
• In an environment at least 850 times as deadly as New York City, with a force of tens of thousands of teenagers who have no police training and who are working in communities where they do not even know the language, the U.S. military has done its policing job with 1/300th of the complaints that NYPD receives annually.
• On a per patrol basis, the military is 50 times less likely to receive a complaint than the NYPD.
• In the past year, New York City has lost one officer in the line of duty, or .002% of its force.
• Over the same period, the U.S. military in Iraq lost 842 or .7% of the in-country force (and 5,000 more wounded).
The military, that is, the people in it at high levels, believe these things to be true:
1. The mainstream media is primarily objective, not fundamentally politically motivated, and their purpose is to report the facts.
2. Our side is fighting for a just cause, and we are winning our battles. This is not an easy thing to do.
3. Blogs or anything else on the internet are an unkown entity and therefore a threat. They aren't objective or professional like the old media.
4. The mainsteam media is the best way to get a message to the masses.
The problem is that while these things are ingrained into our military culture, only 2 and 4 are true.
A future generation of military leaders will (maybe) understand the new media better. Of course, by then it won't be new, and something altogether different might be the best hope for "getting the word out". If so, it will be looked upon uneasily, and avoided as much as possible.
I say "maybe" above because in military culture, the path of least resistance to the top is to do things just like your boss does things. This is why item 1 above is still an article of faith generations after we should have known better, why item 3 applies to anything new or different, and why we're always training to win the last war.
Yet another General officer attacks the war in Iraq. (Or at least, that's what the Guardian wants you to think.)
Regardless of my headline (at the link), the media strategy isn't really failing. At least not yet. As I've noted before, fabricating quotes from senior officers is a proven (and growing) media ploy. Once the original lies are broadcast, the response of the outraged victim can be:
A. ignored while the earlier fabricated quotes are repeated
B. framed as "backing down" from his earlier statements
C. portrayed as retracting his statements as a result of pressure from above
D. A, B, and C
And if enough people stand up to be counted with the Brigadier and express their outrage at his treatment in the media, the media will be able to declare a massive conspiracy and denounce an oppressive regime or culture that denies free speech and fosters a chilling effect on freedom of the press. They hold all the cards.
Which is why we need new media. Which is why you are here.
Addendum: A few more reasons why this paticular strategy appeals to the media:
One - the defense departments/ministries or individuals can't respond by refusing to talk to the media at all or an "obsession with secrecy" or "oppressive policies" will become the storyline.
Two - as more "mis-quotes" are used, a "growing dissension in the ranks" storyline can develop in which the sheer number of stories is used to substantiate the validity of the theme - even if every individual case is a lie.
Three - at some point one of the thousands of flag officers on active duty may actually say something (off the cuff, out of anger, or actual opinion) that fits this "failure" theme. He/she won't have to be portrayed as a "lone voice."
Four - a half dozen retired generals are waiting to be interviewed about how some of their active duty counterparts are starting to echo their "concerns".
This will happen - probably soon. Just be aware of what you're seeing when it does. The damn shame of the matter is, as Salamander said earlier in this discussion: "it is a shame that the important things he says are being lost as a result." These are people whose opinions matter, who know what they're talking about, and who should be heard. Instead, they are being used.
Hopefully we'll be able to identify any signal in the noise.
"...especially when they don't get paid well."
From The Radio Patriots:
Constitutional Public Radio is honored to join Buzz Patterson in this 7-day-long benefit auction for Army Spc. Reid Stanley and Ellicia, who is battling cancer of the brain, breast, and lungs. SC Eagle, stationed in Germany, was deployed to Afghanistan, and now faces another, more personal war, one with Ellicia's life in the balance. They have three young children. And mounting expenses.
Spc. Stanley is also a milblogger, who writes A Storm in Afghanistan.
Auction proceeds will help defray the Stanley's rising bill load.
You can also donate directly to the family via this link. It's a great way to ensure funds will make it directly to Spc. Stanley.
Click here to bid on Buzz's autographed bestselling trio.
Like I said back at my place, we take care of our own. Please consider helping the Stanleys.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — A [U.S.] federal judge ruled Thursday that United States courts did not have the authority to prohibit allied military forces in Iraq from transferring to the Iraqi government’s custody an American citizen who has been sentenced to death.The individual in question is Mohammed Munaf, and here's his story:
Mr. Munaf, who was born in Iraq and became an American citizen in 2000, traveled to Iraq in March 2005 to act as an interpreter and guide for three Romanian journalists. The journalists were kidnapped and held for 55 days.And here's the basis for the U.S. judge's ruling:
After they were freed, Mr. Munaf was detained and accused of being involved in the kidnapping, and on Oct. 12 he was sentenced to death by an Iraqi judge.
The judge, Royce C. Lamberth of United States District Court, ruled that the man, Mohammed Munaf, 53, was not being held directly by the United States, but by the multinational force that was created by United Nations resolutions. As a result, Judge Lamberth ruled, Mr. Munaf has no recourse to American courts.All that according to the NY Times, in which a similar case with a conflicting result is also cited.
I'm a bit surprised his story - or the previous case - hasn't gotten much attention in the media. And I'd like to hear from some of our legal eagles on ramifications, precedent, applicability to military members, etc.
Having been overlooked for the most part, there's little information online about this case. But here's some of that little:
At the time of the kidnapping a group identifying itself as the Muadh bin Jabal Brigade had threatened to kill Marie Jeanne Ion, Sorin Dumitru Miscoci and Ovidiu Ohanesian if Romania did not withdraw its 800 troops from Iraq.And here's something for the conspiracy theorists:
But an investigation by Romanian officials led them to accuse Munaf and Omar Hayssam, a Syrian-Romanian businessman, of masterminding the kidnap purely for financial gain.
Munaf maintains his innocence. Just weeks ago, it appeared he would be set free. Munaf’s attorneys say the presiding judge promised to dismiss the charges after he concluded there was no material evidence to support a conviction.That last bit from one of his attorneys. All done!
But then came a strange intervention. Two US military officers appeared in court to advocate giving Munaf the death penalty. One of the officers claimed to be acting on behalf of the Romanian embassy and said Romania “demanded” Munaf be put to death. The two officers then held a private meeting with the judge – without the defense in the room. When he returned, the judge ruled Munaf was guilty and ordered his execution.
The Romanian government says it did not authorize any US official to speak on its behalf and that it is not seeking the death penalty.
Here's an excerpt from one of Major General Caldwell's briefings from Iraq this week. If you were a news editor, what headline would you write for a story about this?
Violence and progress do coexist here in Iraq. The violence continues against security forces and innocent Iraqis during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Traditionally this is a time of great celebration; it has, instead, been a period of increased violence, not just this year, but during the past two years as well. The violence is indeed disheartening.Consider the General's message, and try writing your own headline encapsulating what he said. Then read the actual headlines from around the world here. Whoever comes close to the real examples has a bright future in journalism.
In Baghdad alone, we've seen a 22 percent increase in attacks during the first three weeks of Ramadan, as compared to the three weeks preceding Ramadan.
In Baghdad, Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in the levels of violence. We are working very closely with the government of Iraq to determine how to best to refocus our efforts.
In regards to this spike in violence during Ramadan, it's no coincidence that the surge in attacks against coalition forces and subsequent increase in U.S. casualty -- casualties coincide with our increased presence on the streets in Baghdad and the run-up to the American midterm elections. The enemy knows that killing innocent people and Americans will garner headlines and create a sense of frustration.
However, the coalition will not be deterred from establishing an Iraq that can provide for its own security and govern itself. That goal is achievable with a combination of both tough security measures by coalition and Iraqi security forces and a political process that recognizes that 11 or 12 million Iraqis voted for a unity government.
Towards that goal, the coalition continues to support and train an increasingly capable and determined Iraqi security force. This past weekend, Iraqi security forces independently successfully provided security for hundreds of thousands of Shi'a pilgrims who thronged the Iraqi city of Najaf in a peaceful commemoration of the death of the first imam. The event was carefully organized, with city services responding to the massive influx of pilgrims from all across Iraq and neighboring Iran.
Iraqi security forces set up and operated checkpoints and patrols throughout the Najaf province, ensuring the safe passage of these pilgrims. Their ceremony went off as planned, without any incidences, according to the Najaf provincial government officials.
This is the third holy pilgrimage in as many months that involved Iraqi security forces on their own planning and executing security for the movement of millions of worshipers here in this country.