Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NYT: Timid and inept

Over the past six months, Baghdad has been all but isolated electrically, Iraqi officials say, as insurgents have effectively won their battle to bring down critical high-voltage lines and cut off the capital from the major power plants to the north, south and west.
The battle has been waged in the remotest parts of the open desert, where the great towers that support thousands of miles of exposed lines are frequently felled with explosive charges in increasingly determined and sophisticated attacks, generally at night. Crews that arrive to repair the damage are often attacked and sometimes killed, ensuring that the government falls further and further behind as it attempts to repair the lines.
And in a measure of the deep disunity and dysfunction of this nation, when the repair crews and security forces are slow to respond, skilled looters often arrive with heavy trucks that pull down more of the towers to steal as much of the valuable aluminum conducting material in the lines as possible. The aluminum is melted into ingots and sold.

The above is from James Glanz' "Iraq Insurgents Starve Capital of Electricity" in this morning's New York Times and may be the best paper has to offer this morning (I'm avoiding Gordo so far) so why is the article going to so overwhelm anyone who's paid even slight attention to Iraq?

Maybe because "Baghdad" doesn't have that problem -- not all of "Baghdad." The Green Zone's never been without power. The rest of Baghdad, on a really good day, might get four hours of electricity, but the Green Zone? Occupying forces made damn sure it had nonstop electricity.

So as the fourth year mark approaches (March of 2007), we're supposed to read this and think what? Anyone who's been paying attention should be thinking, "If they could get electricity to the Green Zone from the beginning, they should have been able to power the rest of Baghdad."
It wasn't a priority. Not only that, the 'scramble' was part of the plan, a way to 'shock' Iraq the same way the economic policies imposed upon it were designed to 'shock' the country.

Proving running electricity and potable water was not a concern. And the result is that the capital -- outside the Green Zone -- now reflects the rest of Iraq. That's the real story -- a story where a country was bombed and bombed for years and then Bully Boy sent in 'liberation' that never provided the basics and spent more time trying to undue the subsidy program than attempting to provide the basic services.

Then you have Mark Santora's "Iraqi Ex-Minister Escapes Jail in Green Zone" which is oh so much nonsense. How do you cover this story and miss the fact that this wasn't escape number one? How do you cover this and refuse to note the obvious fact: an escape in the heavily fortified Green Zone is an inside job because you have to get around the Green Zone (and proabably out of it) which requires identification and stopping at check points. The nonsense of 'he was in Iraqi control' is just nonsense. It's all so much garbage.

Note this:

The New York Times on its Web site Monday night cited a statement from Sammarae's lawyer, which said that Sammarae had been released on bail.
Radhi disputed that, saying that the security agents arrived in GMC pickup trucks and outnumbered the police officers, who did not put up a fight, he said.
The commission did not learn of the escape until after midnight, Radhi said. "They took all that time to inform us so they can take him out of Iraq, maybe, or a place where we can't reach them," he said.
Sammarae's Iraqi and U.S. passports are still in court, Radhi said.

Well the Times is not going with that anymore but it was part of the garbage they were/are pushing. The excerpts from Nancy Trejos' "Jailed Ex-Minister in Baghdad Escapes; Iraqi American Faces Corruption Charges" (Washington Post). You'll note that to push that garbage, they have to reduce the death of three US soldiers to one sentence and the second to last sentence at that. And a lousy sentence at that. Here's the 'in depth' coverage from the Times:

The United States military said three American soldiers had been killed.

Basic journalism: who, what, when and where. The Times can't tell you. Let's explain something to the increasingly inept New York Times -- if you know someone in the US military in Iraq (or someones), whether it's friends or family, a sentence like that is no help at all. Where were they killed, when were they killed and when was it announced are among the thoughts that will go through heads as people attempt to figure out, "Is this old news? Is this the deaths from the weekend that the military announced on Monday?"

For the record, those three deaths -- a soldier in Al-Anbar died Dec. 15th, a Marine in Al-Anbar died Dec. 16th, a soldier in Baghdad died the 18th when the vehicle rolled over. (We noted this in yesterday's snapshot. Or go to Trejos' article which does cover it today.) Today, the US military announces: "One Marine assigned to 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable died Dec. 18 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

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