Dropping back to Saturday, Andrew E. Kramer filed the only story from Iraq in the New York Times yesterday. It's entitled "Blackwater Resumes Guarding U.S. Envoys in Iraq" and that not only shouldn't be the title, it shouldn't be in the opening.
The actual story in the report, the actual news, is that a member of the Mahdi Army was killed in Baghdad and, as retaliation, the Mahdi Army began clearing out the Washash section of Baghdad with the help of the Iraqi and US military. Kramer tells you this was "Between 50 and 100 Sunni families" fleeing. He quotes Sheik Abu Hasan declaring, "What shocked us a lot was that as soon as we reached the main streets, we saw Iraqi and American forces who were showing and directing us to the highway."
That is news.
That is news you lead with in a paper.
50 to 100 families lost their homes and became refugees when a thug militia (which Nouri al-Maliki supports) came through the neighborhood using "loudspeakers, telling people to leave". The US is over in Iraq because? Don't talk about protecting Iraqis. 50 to 100 families -- not individuals, these are families with many members -- lost their homes and became refugees because a militia threatened them with death if they didn't leave. The US military wasn't unaware of the threat. The US military didn't avoid the scene. They were present because they were ordered to be. Directing traffic. Which they were ordered to.
Who has the US government supported throughout but thugs in Iraq. They've turned a blind eye (or a pretended blind eye) to torture and other acts carried out by the thugs paid for with US tax payer dollars. And now? Now they're assisting as armed thugs seize homes and neighborhoods.
What's the excuse for why the US needs to stay again?
What is it, something about there would be violence and chaos if they left.
Well maybe those losing their homes have every right to resort to violence and attack the armed thugs. But that won't happen, will it, when the US military is used to provide cover for them?
Karla notes this from Ned Parker's "Iraqi militia leader's death shatters truce" (Los Angeles Times):
Within the hour, small gangs from the Mahdi Army hunted down Sunnis across the district. Anywhere from five to 20 people were killed, and by Friday afternoon, at least 30 Sunni families had fled Washash. Violence continued Saturday as a Sunni man was pulled out of a car and shot to death.
Naji, a man viewed by many as a criminal, had ignited another chapter in Iraq's civil war.
That was supposed to be carried over The Third Estate Sunday Review (the latest refugees) but there wasn't time. That was Saturday's Times. Today Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz try to drum up sympathy for American embassy staff in their pure camp rendering entitled "Security Firm Faces Criminal Charges in Iraq."
Since Blackwater refuses to speak to the press, the US State Department picks up the slack and who better to serve up slop to than the New York Times? Heavens to Betsy, the slaughter last Sunday and the curtailing of Blackwater after means that embassy staff aren't able to travel around Baghdad. That's a bad thing? Furthermore, they aren't able to speak about Iraqis face to face, in their own neighborhoods . . . the way they never did. How stupid do holed up in the Green Zone Tavernise and Glanz think the average reader of the paper is? What the paper wouldn't print, Dexy was spilling like crazy on the lecture circuit. The Times does not leave the Green Zone without a military escort. That's not instead of the armed bodyguards they've always had, that's in addition to the team of armed bodyguards they travel with.
The US military is interviewing residents and eye witnesses. The State Deprt. is frantic over what they can't control so Glanz and Tavernise try to work it up as one of the great tragedies . . . That embassy officials who can't travel outside the Green Zone without US military escorts might have to rely on . . . the US military to tell them what eye witness to the slaughter report.
Here's why the State Dept is worried. These mercenaries aren't popular with the US military. The mercenaries get paid more, get into incidents like this all the time and breed the hostility towards the US military even further and everytime the mercenaries get in a jam (usually one they created), the US military has to drop everything and go save them. Repeating, while making MUCH LESS money than what the mercenaries do, while being paid peanuts by the US government that's happy to toss around the cash to contractors.
The State Dept's concern is that too many people (in the US military) are hearing eye witness reports and they aren't there to control them. They know the mercenaries are hated and they know there's nothing in it for the US military to sugar coat the findings. Even if they State Dept is able to leave out details and control the white wash report, too many US service members are in the loop and will know the lie is a lie.
Sorry, one thing added by a friend stationed in Iraq, "They" mercenaries "can leave any time they want. They can up and quit. They can walk any time they want. We keep getting extended."
Tavernise and Glanz -- like most of the reporters for the paper -- refuse to hang with the enlisted. They're hired help when it's time to go somewhere but they're only interested in what generals say. So it's no surprise they've written the most ridiculous article on the subject so far (their chief rivals are themselves with their previous coverage from last week). Funniest (unintended by the authors) line in the article: "For that reason, American officials have privately cautioned against drawing early conclusions." Funniest not mentioned, the paper made no known attempt to speak with anyone in the military actually speaking to eye witnesses.
New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:
Truest statement of the week
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Buying the illegal war
TV: Satan tires a sitcom
Thank you Lizette Jenness Olmos and all the rest
The peace movement has never been all White, all straight, all male or any other stereotype
CounterSpin: radio comedy with plenty of laughs
Why we'd give Congress' SCHIPs proposals a veto
Things to do, things to watch
Correction & Update
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
the new york times
andrew e. kramer
the los angeles times
the third estate sunday review