Monday, May 28, 2007

Jennifer Loven does actual reporting

Yes, I did everything I could to avoid the New York Times as long as possible this morning. First off, let's sing the praises of Simon Romero who rarely gets his praises sang (for good reason). I'm sure there are other problems with the piece ("Dueling Protests Over Shutdown of Venezuela TV Station," A3) but even the headline notes "dueling protests." Why note that? When on the phone last night, while doing "And the war drags on," I turned off the nonsense out of the mouth of Meg Oliver as she was promoting that protests as solely by people objecting to the station be closed. Meg Oliver gets off one lie after another, does editorials passing as news (the Iran report I didn't see being one the most recent example). Media watchdogs need to be watching her. (For the record, no one at CBS News considers hers a news woman.)

Turning to Iraq. (We're ignoring Michael Moss' piece from Iran that comes without a dateline. It's nonsense and I'm not in the mood for it. It runs on the front page and his co-fiction writer is Souad Mekhennet.) Damien Cave offers "Roadside Bombings Kill 2 More G.I.'s in Iraq." Cave notes that the US military has confirmed one corpse has been found that they suspect is one of the two still missing soldiers and that DNA testing is being done. The two who remain missing are Alex R. Jimenez and Byron W. Fouty. He also writes that "Military officials warned that the body . . . did not initially appear to fit descriptions of either of the two missing soldiers." Not noted is that the body is reportedly mutilated beyond identification. I see he's calling ICCC's count based on the Pentagon as well so I'll assume that the Times is seeing the MNF and DoD sites as both coming from the Pentagon. (Apologies to John F. Burns.) He's writing about the raid that freed Iraqis -- 42 held by someone. The US military says "al Qaeda." Meg Oliver was reportedly selling (I can't that idiot for more than a few seconds) that as a turned corner on CBS overnight this morning.

He mentions Blackwater which Martha and Lloyd both highlighted yesterday so we'll go to that in a moment. Edward Wong offers "Iraq Ministry Fires Worker For Illegal Eviction Attempt." This can be seen as part two of Edward Wong's "Iraqi Widow Saves Her Home, but Victory Is Brief" from March 30th. (It's 'behind the wall' now. You can click here for a summary of it. Ashley Gilbertson's amazing photos may still be available online, however, to all at the Times website but they were never published online in full the way they were in the print version of the paper.) In that article, Wong and Gilberston told the story of Suaada Saadoun who was murdered after repeatedly refusing to turn her home over to thugs with papers from the Ministry of Finance. Today Wong tells you:

The Iraqi Finance Ministry said yesterday that it had fired a ministry employee who tried to evict a Sunni Arab widow and her family from their home in a mostly Shiite neighborhood of western Baghdad. The woman refused to move and was shot dead the day after being visited by two Shiite men indentifying themsleves as Finance Ministry guards.
The ministry said in a written statement released to The New York Times that the employee had tried to evict the widow, Suuada Saadoun, 49, without getting official permission from the ministry. The ministry did not identify the employee, but Ms. Saadoun's relatives and neighbors said after her death on March 28 that the ministry official pushing for the evictin was named Ali Jezairi.
[. . .]
This reporter met Ms. Saadoun on March 27 when Kurdish soldiers whom he was accompanying answered a distress call from her. She said in the call that two men were threatening her with eviction. The Kurds drove to her home in the Ali Salah neighborhood, where they helped American soldiers detain the two Shiite Men.

Wong tells you that the man fired is presumably a relative of the two thugs who demanded the home. Neither the man nor the thugs are facing criminal charges and Wong notes that the statement makes no mention or apology for the murder, just says that the attempted eviction hadn't been approved by the ministry.

Okay, back to Blackwater. Martha and Lloyd both highlighted an article yesterday. This is from Steve Fainaru and Saad al-Izzi's "U.S. Security Contractors Open Fire in Baghdad:"

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

For more on Blackwater, you can see (watch, read or listen) "Jeremy Scahill Responds to Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, Visits Blackwater Sites and Prince’s Hometown" (Democracy Now!). The best and most hard hitting Iraq related article today is by Jennifer Loven. From the opening of "Bush Has Own Take on Iraq Public Opinion" (AP):

Confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, President Bush decides to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him.
Democrats view the November elections that gave them control of Congress as a mandate to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. They're backed by evidence; election exit poll surveys by The Associated Press and television networks found 55 percent saying the U.S. should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq.
The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn't want the troops pulled out -- they want to give the military more support in its mission.
"Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change in our strategy in Iraq," he said April 24, ahead of a veto showdown with congressional Democrats over their desire to legislation a troop withdrawal timeline. "I listened. Today, General David Petraeus is carrying out a strategy that is dramatically different from our previous course."
Increasingly isolated on a war that is going badly, Bush has presented his alternative reality in other ways, too. He expresses understanding for the public's dismay over the unrelenting sectarian violence and American losses that have passed 3,400, but then asserts that the public's solution matches his.

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