Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NYT: Does that red light ever burn out, Dexy?

The ultimate inbed is back doing what he does best, spit out what the military tells him. Spit shine it and sell it to the people as "truth" -- does anyone still buy it?

Yes, we're speaking of Dexter Filkins. The rah-rah, Go-Go Boy of the Green Zone who sold the slaughter of Fallujah (in semi-real time -- semi-real because of the number of days it took for the piece to make it into print) and even won a prize for in it back in a period where the press was more than glad to not only censor themselves but punish (and banish) any who strayed from the official military line.

Proving that you can military-escort the Go-Go Boy out of the Green Zone but you can't take the Green Zone out of the Go-Go Boy, Dexy's back in print, back in the warm embrace of the US military, and back to buffing and polishing a combat zone with his tongue.

"Taking Ramadi a Neighborhood at a Time" is the title, "I print whatever I'm told" is the mental dateline.

He opens with the death of a US solider. Tells us "he was young, popular" and leaves him unnamed. The soldier's just a pawn in the game of selling the war. Do any inhabitants of Ramadi die? We're never told.

He tells us that this "operation began late Sunday night" -- so apparently all the reports you've read and heard on Ramadi for the last few weeks were from psychics? (Well, he couldn't very well admit that when the operation started he was elsewhere, could he? Next, people might want him to follow up on the alleged slaughter of civilians he worked into an article a few weeks ago -- as an aside.)

He writes: "Whole city blocks here look like a scene from some post-apocalyptic world: row after row of buildings shot up, boarded up, caved in, tumbled down." And we're supposed to think this was 'insurgents' doing this? We're supposed to assume that this wasn't the result of bombings from war planes that has been ongoing? ('Insurgents' have war planes?)

He writes:

But rather than assaulting the city frontally, as the Americans did in Falluja in November 2004 -- destroying it in the process -- American commanders have decided on a softer and more deliberate approach. This time, they have ringed Ramadi with thousands of American and Iraqi troops, and have begun to reclaim the city, not in one sudden attack, but neighborhood by neighborhood.

Yeah, they did destroy Falluja -- nice of you to tell the readers about that all these years later.
But Dexy has some sort of truth-allergy that prevents him from offering too much truth in one sitting. The actions in Ramadi are being carried out the way they are not for a 'softer' approach (only Dexy in full blood lust mode could see what's happening as 'softer' -- or choose not to see reality) but because the US doesn't have the troops (of their own or others once in the so-called coalition) to do anything else.

That's why they're going neighborhood to neighborhood and those who didn't wait until this week to stumble upon the issue (via a military escort) made that point a long ago. Late to the party but desperate to demonstrate his Go-Go Boy cred, you picture Dexy typing away, stopping every few minutes to ask whatever minder babysits him, "You think the general will like this?"

Did his minder suggest "pacification" be 'deployed' or did Dexy think of that one all by himself?

One thing that seemed clear on Monday was that however small the numbers of Iraqi soldiers were, their presence was far more palatable to local residents than that of the Americans. Iraqi soldiers passed out a letter, written in unvarnished Arabic prose by Colonel Raad, to the "noble people" of the neighborhood, apologizing up front for the distress he and his men would cause.

Missing from the "reporting" is any mention of the American military making threats over the loudspeakers, for the last weeks, that the people hand over the 'insurgents' or they'll turn Ramadi into Falluja.

One of the actions undertaken by the Americans and Iraqis was the expulsion of about 50 Iraqis from a three-block area where the new outpost was being set up. The Iraqi civilians were told to gather their things and go -- where to was not clear. The troops assumed that the local Iraqis, in this land linked by bloodlines, would be able to flee to their relatives. They promised compensation. The Iraqis wandered off into the streets, some of them carrying food and clothing.

The troops assumed that, did they? And did Dexy? Has he missed the reports on the vast number of displaced Iraqis? Reuters ran a report just yesterday on the refugess and that wasn't the first time it's been reported. Must not be too much reality seeping into the Green Zone (but, goodness, didn't the embeds snap to life on Friday when they realized just what might happen to the Green Zone).

Dexy would probably aruge, "compensation was promised, it's not my job to evaluate it." Just as it, apparently, isn't his job to ever explore whatever happened to the promised compensation the residents of Falluja? Many of whom, though the Times isn't interested in telling you this, remain displaced almost two years later, never having seen the compensation for their damaged or no longer standing homes.

There's no reality in this story, just a lot of rah-rah nonsense, the sort he won a prize for (one that should have been pulled some time ago -- all the more apparent today as even the Go-Go Boy can't pant and moan with excitement over Falluja today). For references and links to reality on Ramadia, see Ruth's Public Radio Report.

We'll again note Dahr Jamail and Ali Fadhil's "Rebuilding Not Yet Reality for Fallujah" (click here for IPS, here for the report at Dahr's site):

The U.S. military launched Operation Phantom Fury against the city of Fallujah-destroying an estimated 70 percent of the buildings, homes and shops, and killing between 4,000 and 6,000 people, according to the Fallujah-based non-governmental organisation the Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (SCHRD).
IPS found that the city remains under draconian biometric security, with retina scans, fingerprinting and X-raying required for anyone entering the city. Fallujah remains an island: not even the residents of the surrounding towns and villages like Karma, Habbaniya, Khalidiya, which fall under Fallujah's administrative jurisdiction, are allowed in.
Security badges are required for anyone wishing to enter the city. To obtain a badge, one has to be a Fallujah native from a certain class. That is, if one is from Fallujah and a government official, a high-class badge of grade G will be issued. Journalists with an X-grade badge will be allowed. Then there are B for businessmen and C for those who have contracts with U.S. military in the city. Last are the R-grade badges, which will not be admitted through the main checkpoint at the east side of the city, and must seek entrance through "second class" checkpoints elsewhere.
Having entered the city through the main checkpoint, the first thing visible is the destroyed homes in the Al-Askari district. Virtually every home in this area has been completely destroyed or seriously damaged.
"I could not rebuild my house again because rebuilding is rather costly nowadays," Walid, a 48-year-old officer with the former Iraqi army, told IPS. With sorrow in his eyes he told of how he built his home six years ago. After the destruction, "They [U.S. Military] paid us 70 percent of the compensation and with the unemployment in the city we spent most of it on food and medicines. Now everybody is waiting for the remaining 30 percent."
Slightly different version of this same story could be told by the hundreds of people who lost their houses in the April and November 2004 bombing campaigns.

That's reality. Reality's also that Ramadi is without running water, without power and without phone service (and 'insurgents' weren't the ones shutting those things off). You don't get reality from a Go-Go Boy and are any of us still surprised by that at this late date?

Possibly, viewers of the NewsHour will garner a bit more reality should he grace that show, but in print, he's all about spinning.

Some may sing:

Filk-ens! You don't have to turn on the red light.
Filk-ens! You don't have to turn on the red light.
Turn on the red light
Turn on the red light . . .

But apparently he does. Over and over again.

For those not willing to spin, check out Eugene Richards latest photo eassy in the "War Is Personal" series at The Nation. From "War Is Personal: Mona Parsons/Age 52/Mt. Vernon, Ohio:"

Jeremy was sitting alone at the kitchen table, his thoughts somewhere else, when the women in his life began to encircle him. His wife, Maricar, slumped down across from him, her arms wrapped tightly around herself; his mother, Mona, sat closer, but looking down. Sayward was standing directly behind her brother when she started in. She shouted for Mona and Maricar to get the rope and the dark clothes. "I've got the iron skillet to whack him with," she said.
When Jeremy pretended he hadn't heard a word of this, Sayward snapped, "It's up to you what we do. If it was my husband going back to Iraq, I'd divorce him. I'd have him sign the papers before he ever got on that plane." She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. "Worst thing is, we're powerless. We wake up from all the bad dreams, call our congressmen and senators; we still don't get anybody to say that what's happening is wrong."
Rubbing at her eyes, she reminded him that it was only a short drive to Canada. "No joking, what other options do we have?" she asked. Her voice began to crack. "You have to know I would willingly go to prison if you don't go back."
Jeremy stood up from the table. He was turning to leave when his and Maricar's 5-year-old daughter sashayed past wearing a tattered Cinderella gown and a rhinestone tiara. Sayward reached for her brother's hand. It seemed as if the storm had passed, then Mona placed the newspaper she'd been holding onto the table.

Martha notes Joshua Partlow and Naseer Nouri's "Dozens Are Killed in Violence Across Iraq" (Washington Post):

A series of explosions targeting crowded markets, police officers and military patrols killed at least 38 people one day after the Iraqi government proposed a national reconciliation plan aimed at undermining the insurgency.
A bomb loaded on a bicycle exploded in the central market in a small town near Baqubah, a Sunni insurgent stronghold north of Baghdad, killing 18 people and wounding 43, according to Laith Ali, an official at Baqubah General Hospital. The Associated Press cited a morgue official at the hospital who put the death toll at 25 people, with 33 others wounded.

Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.