Friday, January 04, 2008

A matter of emphasis

The sun had not yet risen in Taji. A young Army soldier lay alone in the dirt. She was alive, but barely. Her ribs had been crushed; her spleen, ruptured. Her right side was marked by the angular tread of a tire.
Pfc. Hannah Gunterman McKinney was 20 years old, the brown-eyed mother of a toddler son, when she was spotted in the headlights of a passing Humvee on a perimeter road at one of the largest U.S. military camps in Iraq.
Thirteen hours later, in Redlands, Calif., Barbie and Matt Heavrin, who had three children in the military, learned they had lost their elder daughter to "injuries suffered when she was struck by a vehicle," as the Army first described it.
But there was more to the story. For the Heavrins, the events of Sept. 4, 2006, inside the wire of Camp Taji emerged bit by bit. McKinney's last hours, they would learn, involved alcohol, sex and a decorated reservist who was responsible for looking out for junior enlisted soldiers such as their daughter.
Her case would become one in a litany of noncombat deaths in Iraq, which number more than 700, from crashes, suicides, illnesses and accidents that sometimes reveal messy truths about life in the war zone.
The cases can be especially brutal for parents who lose a child and struggle to understand why. In McKinney's case, many of the details are in a 1,460-page file and court-martial transcript obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.
Now, her parents want her story to be fully told. They cannot reconcile themselves to the idea that, on that terrible day in Taji, their daughter was left behind.

The above, noted by Martha, is from Donna St. George's "A Drunken Night in Iraq, A Soldier Is Left Behind" (Washington Post). She was run over by the man who gave her booze and had sex with her. The Post runs it on the front page. Meanwhile, the New York Times? Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Khalid al-Ansary file a story and this is the *fourth* paragraph:

In another development on Thursday, two American soldiers were shot dead and a third soldier was wounded in Diyala Province, the American military said. On Wednesday a soldier was killed by an improvised bomb south of Baghdad, the first death of an American soldier this year.

And that's it, in the story, on that. Five deaths in Turkey are worthy of it's own story. Three deaths in Iraq? Not even worthy of opening paragraphs. But, as Ad Nags conveyed this week, the paper's not interested in Iraq.

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[*C.I. note: "Fourth" paragraph. I was wrong when I wrote third.]