Sunday, December 10, 2006

NYT: B-b-but Gordo promised a 'sharp' reduction

C.J. Chivers, fresh off his star turn, decides he wants to play Straight Reporter again and hits the front page with "Black-Market Weapon Prices Surge in Iraq Chaos." It's news . . . to the New York Times. I'm tired, what is it, two weeks, three weeks since independent media reported this?

Is it front page news? No, not really when Thom Shanker's "Pulling Out Combat Troops Would Still Leave Most Forces in Iraq" is buried in the paper. In fact, you can see Shanker's article as one of those the Times will point to in their next mea culpa.

"You misrepresented! On the front page!"

Ah, yes, we did but we did a follow up piece six months later. So if anyone read only the start or didn't do the math, and they feel misled, well, we corrected it in December of 2006.

"And stuck it on A18!"

Shanker reports that "Frontline combat troops in the 15 brigades carying out the American fight in Iraq -- which the Iraq Study Group says could be largely withdrawn in just one year -- represent about 23 percent of the 140,000 military personnel committed to the overall war effort there." Point?

Take out 15 combat brigades and you've still got over 100,000 troops in Iraq.

Why does it matter?

Chances are War pornographer Michael R. Gordon's hoping no one asks any questions. Head down, Gordo, head down.

"U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Troop Cuts." Opening sentence: "The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say."

Now if you truged through the turgid Gordo and did the math, you realized you were being hyped and there were no sharp reductions. But he was calling the combat brigades deployment (on a smaller scale) a sharp reduction (there was also one less brigade in Iraq when he wrote in June). He was panting over a general (Casey) and calling it a sharp reduction (it didn't happen in September, by then the number of brigades had actually increased by one).

As noted then:

The headline (which Gordon didn't write) and the opening of the article promise so much but, in the end, you're left with nothing. The story of his . . .
Walk on,

Despite the hype, if it had happened, it wouldn't have been "a sharp reduction."

We'll note the new content at The Third Estate Sunday Review (still being written) tonight. Isaiah's comic goes up after this. Angela Davis and Robert Parry on Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, don't forget.

And as we wait for the Times to tell what happened Friday in the air strike, read Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily's "Cornered Military Takes to Desperate Tactics" (IPS) on earlier collective punishment:

Siniyah town 200 km north of Baghdad with a population of 25,000 has
been under siege by the U.S. military for two weeks.
IPS had earlier reported unrest in Siniyah Jan. 20 when the U.S.
military constructed a six-mile sand wall in a failed attempt to check
resistance attacks.
Located near Beji in the volatile but oil-rich Salahedin province,
Siniyah has become a vivid example of harsh tactics used by occupation
forces, who have lost control over most of the country.
"Thirteen children died during the two-week siege due to U.S. troops'
disallowance for doctors to open their private clinics as well as
closure of the general medical centre there," a doctor from the city
reported to IPS via satellite phone.
The doctor spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals from the
U.S. military. IPS had to reach him by phone since the military blockade
has cut the city off from the outside world.
"This is not the first time U.S. troops have conducted such a siege
here, but this time it represents murder," the doctor said.
A U.S. military public relations officer in Baghdad told IPS on phone
that the military was doing "what it had to do to fight the terrorists
in and around Siniyah" and that "no medical aid is being interfered with."
When IPS told him it had received contradictory information from a
doctor in that city, he replied, "that is just not true."
The siege has generated resentment against the Shia-dominated Iraqi
government led by Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki, who has failed to
comment on the deaths. Sunnis have not missed the sharp contrast to his
order to U.S. troops to lift their checkpoints around the Shia area of
Sadr City in Baghdad.
Sectarian conflict has been rising between Shias and Sunnis, two
differing followings within Islam. Sunnis are the majority worldwide,
but Shias are said to be the majority within Iraq.
Abdul Kareem al-Samarrai'i, a leading member of the Islamic Party that
participates in the Maliki government, stated on Baghdad Space Channel
that the 13 children died in Siniyah "because of the siege and the U.S.
army orders to deprive the town of any medical care."

And back to the Times for an article Ned noted. I couldn't find it, the Times is calling their Iraq section "The Struggle For Iraq" (which I do believe is CNN's phrase) and after the page with
Shanker, you get four full pages of ads. Ned steers us to John F. Burns' "Shiites Rout Sunni Families in Mixed Area of Baghdad" which notes yesterday's violence included "one of the most flagrant episodes of sectarian warfare yet unleashed in the captial." A Shi'ite militia, Burns reports, "stormed through a neighborhood in north-central Baghdad" and over one-hundred families left to avoid the conflict, Sunni families, and would not return to their homes even after the US military promised them "protection." Saturday morning's attack resulted in at least three dead (Sunnis) with a mother wounded, her adult son killed and his brother wounded as well "as they finished loading possessions into their car and prepared to drive to a safer area." On Friday's air strike, Burns notes that the people in the village state it claimed the lives of six women and nine children while, yesterday, a car bomb in Karbala claimed four lives and left 32 wounded.

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