Saturday, September 23, 2006

Oppel, Jamal, AP and more

The commander of United States forces in Baghdad said Friday that he needed 3,000 more Iraqi troops to patrol the city, but that he was having trouble getting them because they did not want to leave their home regions.
"What I still need in here in terms of battalions from the Iraqi Army that I would like to see is approximately six battalions, and the government is working to do that," Maj. Gen. James Thurman, the commander of the Fourth Infantry Division, told reporters in a briefing in Baghdad.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr's "Blasts in Western Baghdad Damage Mosque and Homes" in this morning's New York Times. AP reports that in Baghdad today there have been two major explosions -- one claimed the lives of 32 people while the other wounded 38. Julian E. Barnes and Solomon Moore report on Friday's violence in "Many Iraqi Troops Are No-Shows in Baghdad" (Los Angeles Times):

Thurman's comments came on a day of continued violence in the country, including the execution-style slayings of nine Sunni Arabs dragged from a wedding dinner east of Baghdad by armed men who reportedly were wearing Iraqi uniforms.
"Three civilian cars and one minibus came to our house with armed men wearing Iraqi army uniforms," the groom's father, Mohammed Dulaimi, 61, told police. "They raided the house and asked to take some of the guests for routine investigations."Police later found the bodies of nine wedding guests on Baghdad's outskirts. Each had been shot several times.
[. . .]
In west Baghdad, Shiite militiamen set fire to two buildings occupied by two prominent Sunni political parties and ordered all Sunnis out of the neighborhood.

We'll come back to Iraq in a minute but right now we'll note Motoko Rich's "U.S. Best Seller, Thanks to Rave by Latin Leftist" (New York Times) both because it's rare that the authors of glorified PowerPoint presentations feel the need to slam actual authors: Alan Dershowitz claims he knows no one who reads Noam Chomsky. That actually would make sense, like attracts like so someone as empty headed as Dershowitz probably wouldn't know many people who actually read. Dershowitz wet dreams and drools over Chomsky's sales (if you've never skimmed -- don't call it reading -- Dershowitz, go to any strip mall and check the remainders -- you'll find tons of Dershowitz' books). But we'll also note it for the concluding paragraph:

As a matter of fact, it is a growing trend. At a press conference in the East Room of the White House yesterday, Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, dodged a few questions by joking that Simon & Schuster, which is publishing his memoirs on Sept. 25, had barred him from commenting until his book is out. President Bush played along: "In other words, 'Buy the book' is what he’s saying," Mr. Bush said.

A point made much better and funnier in Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY & FRIENDS HELP MUSHARRAF PLUG BOOK!" and Cedric's "The Bully Boy Book Club (humor)" yesterday.

Now back to Iraq. A visitor e-mailed and is apparently visiting the site for the first time. He's got two issues. The first is the snapshots. The AP was noted yesterday (the first snapshot he saw). The AP's probably noted in every snapshot. They're a wire service. There are days when, outside the wire services, only a handful of sources are noting Iraq. We don't highlight everything AP does (and AP releases many wire reports each day from Iraq -- from all over but we're focused on Iraq). What we do highlight meets my own judgement and those of people I'm calling before I post those entries. Can there be a mistake? Absolutely. (And there are probably many each week. On the topic of wire services, it should also be noted that the Pike Report referred to the CIA's successful attempts in manipulating Reuters wire releases. We also note Reuters here.)

The visitor has a highlight, which we will note in a minuate. But the highlight takes AP to task for promoting a story that 'tribes' have banded together in Al Anbar to work with the US military. The visitor wonders why we never addressed that?

We did address the myth. Monday's "NYT: Caught in the spin" addresses that and took over an hour of phone calls to reporters who'd covered the area and soldiers who'd served there. At one point, I was asked if I'd seen the Washington Post that morning? No, I hadn't. I hadn't opened it up yet and I hadn't read Martha's e-mail (containing a highlight from the paper). If you read
"NYT: Caught in the spin," you'll see that we addressed it back on Monday when the Times was 'reporting' that:

Khalid al-Ansary and Ali Adeeb have an article in the New York Times which recounts some of yesterday's violence (violence already noted in last night's "And the war drags on") and also states that 25 of 31 tribes in Al Anbar have formed an agreement of some kind. What kind? Who knows? Maybe someone got paid off to make a statement?
Congratulations to the two writers for finally getting their own byline. But the article defies disbelief. The spokesperson doesn't seem to be describing reality so much as saying what the US military would want people to believe. Pay off, deal to leave or just blowing hot air is the consensus on his statements from everyone I spoke to this morning (the reason this entry is started so late) that has served in the province or reported from it. No one's buying it. I'm not quoting from the article or even noting's it's title. When I read it this morning, I reached for the phone. Again, congratulations on the long deserved byline without any American listed (see Friday's entry for Dexy's talk) but I have no faith in that article.

There's more, including the fact that Amit R. Paley's "Blasts in Kirkuk Kill 26; Police Bureau Destroyed" (Washington Post) refuted that phoney claim. We addressed it on Monday.

The visitor wanted this highlighted from Dahr Jamail's "AP Propaganda About Iraq" (Truthout):

At this point, either the author of this AP story, or the editor, or both, rightly assume that the reader is not aware that Sheik Fassalal-Guood tried to lead the local resistance against the occupation inRamadi, but turned against the same resistance group when its membersrejected him as a leader because they considered him a corrupt thief.
Nor is the reader aware that today, Sheikh Fassal al-Guood lives in the"Green Zone" and happily talks to reporters from behind the concrete blast walls, and that his power in Al-Anbar now equals exactly nothing.
I contacted author and media critic Norman Solomon and asked him what he thought of this AP story.
"The holes in this story beg for questions that it does not raise, much less answer," he wrote. "For instance: What are the past, present and hoped-for financial relationships between the quoted 'tribal leader' on the one hand and the US and Iraqi governments on the other? Are there any indications that money has changed hands? Is a mercenary arrangement being set up? Is this part of the Bush administration's strategy to get more Iraqis to kill each other rather than have Iraqis killing American troops - aka 'As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down?' Isn't there a good chance that such arrangements will actually fuel civil war in Iraq rather than douse its already horrific flames?"

We were already highlighting the story because Mia noted it in an e-mail this morning. But in terms of ignoring "an important story" -- as the visitor stated -- I'm sure I miss many things several times a day by accident (and I'm sure there are many things left out of the snapshot that others might think are important but I don't and anyone I'm talking to on the phone doesn't) but we covered the 'report' when it appeared in the Times on Monday written by Times' reporters. If I don't trust something (or am warned against it), it doesn't make it up at this site. Something's will make that it shouldn't. But, for instance, this morning Richard A. Oppel Jr. is quoting US military officials who assert the false claim that houses were not set on fire intentionally. I don't believe that and it's now how it was reported yesterday (nor how it was conveyed to me on the phone yesterday), so we didn't quote that from Oppel's article. We instead quoted Barnes & Moore and noted their section on the fires. Oppel's very careful to note this is an assertion by others (why he doesn't include the fact that the assertion flies in the face of eye witness accounts and previous reporting, I have no idea) but I wasn't comfortable excerpting that spin here and didn't.

The visitor feels that I was afraid to question the lie. I wasn't afraid to. I did so on Monday.
The visitor also states that anyone who cares about Iraq would link to Dahr Jamail. (A point I agree with.) And then goes on to urge that this site put him on "your blogroll." It's called "permalinks" here because this isn't a "blog" (and we've covered that before so I won't repeat the explanation again). But besides being called "permalinks," Dahr Jamail was added to it in November of 2004 (the same month this site began). His site is called "Iraq Dispatches" and it's high at the top -- most sites listed are listed in the order they were added. (Community sites lept to the top in April of 2005. They are sites by community members that started after this site did.)

So to recap, we did address the mythical story and did so last Monday. We do highlight Dahr Jamail regularly (a google search would have demonstrated that -- and we don't just highlight what he writes, we also highlight his radio appearances). Iraq Dispatches (Jamail's site) is on our permalinks and has been since the month this site started.

If you missed it, Kat's latest went up yesterday -- "Kat's Korner: 'Mommy, May I Pet With Danger?'".

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