Monday, January 29, 2007

NYT: Damien and Glanz are gabby but not about last week's 'funny'

Damien Cave has a lengthy article in today's New York Times that reads like "Call Me The New Dexy" but is, in fact, entitled "'Man Down': When One Bullet Alters Everything." For those without a calander, today is Monday and Cave is writing about events that took place Wednesday. Now Cave's published since Thursday. So why the delay?

In one article (with James Glanz), it should have been made clear at the top that they were embedded with troops. That wasn't made clear. Embedded often comes with an agreement and the agreement may have included that the US military could vet copy. That would explain why, on Monday, we're reading about last Wendesday, and why Cave's written for the paper since last Wednesday. (We just praised an article co-written by him yesterday in fact.)

When the press enters agreement with the military, readers have a right to know about it. I'm not interested in Cave's rah-rah reporting ("crack-crack of machine-gun fire"). I am interested in knowing what agreements were made for Cave (and Glanz) to be embedded with the military and whether that included allowing the military to vet the copy?

I'm also interested in knowing what, if anything, was done to the Iraqi soldier who thought it was 'funny' to point a gun at a journalist and squeeze the trigger. But, as with Cave's nonsense today, we're all supposed to swallow without asking questions.

Glanz, who co-wrote the article about the 'funny,' has a piece today where he interviews Hassan Kazemi Qumi (Iran's ambassador to Iraq) and is told "that two Iranians seized and later released by American forces last month were security officials, as the United States has claimed. But he said that they were engaged in legitimate discussions with the Iraqi government and should not have been detained." Which "two" is Glanz writing of. Six were detained in the storming of the consulate. That was then dropped to five when one was quickly released. Are the "two" of that five remaining? If so, are we left to understand that Glanz didn't ask about the other three or are we supposed to surmise that the three were in fact diplomatic staff? (The Glanz piece is entitled "Iranian Reveals Plan To Expand Role Inside Iraq.")

While the Times (of New York) can't cover the basics or tell you what happened in Iraq on Sunday, we'll note Louise Roug and Borzou Daragahi's "Hundreds die in clash near Shiite holy city: U.S. and Iraqi forces thwart 500 fighters apparently targeting a Najaf shrine. A helicopter goes down, killing two American troops" (Los Angeles Times):

Iraqi and American forces killed several hundred gunmen apparently planning to attack a Shiite Muslim shrine Sunday, fighting a daylong battle in which a U.S. helicopter crashed, killing two U.S. troops, Iraqi security officials said.
The fighting near the holy city of Najaf on the eve of the Shiite holiday of Ashura came as a mortar attack killed five teenage girls at a school in Baghdad and the daily nationwide civilian death toll again climbed past 100.
Iraqi security officials offered conflicting accounts of the identity and motives of the heavily armed fighters outside Najaf, variously describing them as foreign fighters, Sunni Muslim nationalists, loyalists of executed former dictator Saddam Hussein or followers of a messianic Shiite death cult. Some witnesses reported that the attackers wore colorful Afghan tribal robes.
The cause of the helicopter crash near Najaf was unclear, but U.S. and Iraqi officials said there was ground fire before the craft went down, and witnesses said they saw it shot out of the sky. It was the third U.S. helicopter to go down in Iraq in eight days.
Three additional U.S. troops were reported killed Sunday.
Sunday's fighting near Najaf and elsewhere was extraordinary, even by Iraq's bloody standards, highlighting the challenge faced by U.S. and Iraqi forces, which are fighting a complex patchwork of elusive enemies, including Shiite militias and Sunni-led insurgents. The deaths outside Najaf would constitute the highest daily casualty toll inflicted by U.S. and Iraqi forces since U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad shortly after the March 2003 invasion.
Iraqi security forces took authority over Najaf's security about a month ago. Witnesses and security officials said Sunday that Iraqi forces were being defeated by the enigmatic, well-organized fighters until U.S. air support and U.S.-Iraqi ground troops arrived.
Shaky footage recorded by mobile telephone, broadcast on Iraqi television, showed Iraqi soldiers hunkered behind a berm as intense gunfire erupted and smoke rose in the distance.
Ali Nomas, an Iraqi security official in Najaf, said the fighters belonged to a group calling itself Heaven's Army, one of several messianic cults that have appeared among Shiites who believe in the imminent return of Imam Mahdi, the last in the line of Shiite saints who disappeared more than 1,000 years ago. Nomas said the information came from interviews with at least 10 detained fighters.
"Everyday someone claims he's the Mahdi," he said.

The morning entries are going up slowly and my apologies for that. We're having trouble with the net (Ava's going through the morning's e-mails on her laptop and having the same problem with speed of pages loading). On that, Ava asks me to note, if you're a journalist e-mailing to complain, I do read that, I will consider it. I do not and will not reply privately. (I've broken that rule twice -- once with big media years ago, once with someone in independent media recently.) I'm not entering into private correspondence, I have enough conflicts of interest as it is. If you've had your say, you're done. Move along now. If you're e-mailing with wonderful gossip about your peers, though I may laugh while reading it and may even check it out, we don't post that here. We never have. So if you're one of the two mainstream reporters wanting to know why an affair isn't noted here, we really don't cover that. We'll laugh as we read your e-mails. We'll enjoy it (and always have) but it's not going up here.

And as for what goes up here, Gina said it was time to again note: This is a private conversation in a public sphere. You're welcome to eavesdrop but don't assume your opinion matters more than others.

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